Chapter 11 Knowledge, Justification, and Truth

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This page is part of my self study project into philosophy. What is written are my own personal notes taken as a means of formalizing what I've read and/or learned. The information may not be accurate, as I may have took away the wrong points. Also the information could be basic or partial - as learning requires taking on small parts before getting deeper. The content may be a tad scatterbrain as well. Either way, it should be an interesting read and maybe you'll learn something with me.

Knowledge and Justification

The Apparent Possibility of Clairvoyant Knowledge

Take a possible person: (1) a man that can foretell horse races. He doesn't know why he believes what he beliefs - he just does. Even though he may know who will win the race, he does not have justified true beliefs as to who will win. If he kept a record of how well his forecasts turned out, he would have justification.

Natural Knowledge

Take another case of the idiot savant. They're mentally deficient, but can rapidly answer complex arithmetic. It's not like they do the math in their head, they just spit out the answer.

If this example and the horse race guy's are producing knowledge, they are special cases. We might call them natural knowledge - as they seem rooted in the nature of its possessors and not depend on their training or learning much beyond what is needed to possess the concepts required for holding arithmetic beliefs. This produces a contrast that suggests a difference between knowledge and justification that explains why the former seems possible without the latter.

Internalism and Externalism in Epistemology

Could justification and knowledge be grounded in different ways? Maybe they ground differently in the way each relates to truth. Excluding self-knowledge, knowledge is true belief about the external world. True belief of the external world is external to one, but justification (by some philosophers) rest on a source 'inside' the mind (ie: internal).

Internalism about justification - Justification is grounded internally.

Externalism about knowledge - Grounds of knowledge are external to the mind.

Some Varieties of Internalism and Externalism

Internalism and externalism have different form. Internalism can differ themselves with how readily the justifiers are accessible to consciousness. Externalist views differ themselves in the kind of non-introspective knowledge they take to be possible regarding the grounds of knowledge (ie: one might say common sense observation is enough versus scientific evidence required).

The Overall Contrast Between Internalism and Externalism

The main contrast is as follows: apart from self-knowledge, whose object is in some sense mental and thus in some way internal, what one knows is known on the basis of one's meeting conditions that are not (at least not entirely) internally accessible, as states or possesses in one's consciousness are. By contrast, what we justifiably believe, or are simply justified in believing, is determined by mental states and processes to which we have internal (introspective or reflectional) access: our visual experiences, for instance, or memory impressions, or our reasoning processes, or our beliefs of supporting propositions.

Internalist and Externalist Versions of Virtue Epistemology

Internalist and externalist approaches in epistemology represent a basic division. Consider virtue epistemology: theories committed to the position that knowledge and justified belief are to be understood as expressions of epistemic virtue - such as observational acuity, apt for arriving at truth.

Internalist virtue theory: justified belief would be belief based on internally accessible grounds understood in terms of epistemic virtue. Externalist virtue theory justified belief would be belief based on processes that are appropriately connected with a virtue and reliably lead to truth.

Some Apparent Problems for Virtue Epistemology

The main problem is how to specify the kind of character features without at least already having a rough account of knowledge and justification.

The Internality of Justification and the Externality of Knowledge

If I were to believe I was hallucinating and there was not a field before me - the belief that I'm hallucinating is internal.

If knowledge and justification do contrast, why is justification important to knowledge at all?

  1. The sources of justified belief (experience and reason) are generally sources of knowledge.
  2. Virtually the only knowledge we can conceive of for beings like ourselves is apparently grounded in those sources.

Justification, Knowledge, and Truth

Justification by its nature has some kind of connection with truth. Justified true belief need not be knowledge, and knowledge apparently need not be justified belief. But normally knowledge arises from the same sources of justification: normally, the internal states and processes that justify our beliefs also connect our beliefs with the external facts in virtue of which those beliefs are true.

The Value Problem

Plato raised the value problem. Why is knowledge more valuable then mere true belief?

===Why is Knowledge Preferable to Merely True Belief?

Two Kinds of Value

  • Value things may have in themselves - intrinsic value
  • Value things may have as a means to something of intrinsic value - instrumental value

To ask whether knowledge is good in itself is implicitly to ask about the intrinsic value of an appropriate kind of experience of it.

The Value of Knowledge Compared with that of Justified True Belief

One can have justified true beliefs that are not knowledge, just because they were lucky (guessing). but the value on a lucky guess wouldn't be high.

(1) At least where knowledge embodies justified true belief, it is inherently better than mere true belief, and (2) justified true belief that does not constitute knowledge is also inherently better than mere true belief. (3) Both points are supported by the role of justification in yielding understand, which is inherently good. (4) By and large, the same preferability expressed in (1) and (2) holds for instrumental value, and (5) where knowledge does not embody justification, it may be inherently good on some counts and inherently bad on others. But (6) such knowledge is likely to be instrumentally better than mere true belief, though (7) perhaps not instrumentally better than mere true belief does not constitute knowledge.

Theories of Truth

Truth falls more under the category of metaphysics.

The Correspondence Theory of Truth

Truth, like knowledge, is external. A green field before me is not a matter of states of my mind.

Minimalist and Redundancy Accounts of Truth

Minimalist: The 'grass is green' is true if grass is green.

Redundancy: The 'grass is green is true' is not just equivalent to 'grass is green', but has essentially the same meaning.

The coherence theory of Truth

The central idea is that a true proposition is one that coheres appropriately with certain other propositions.

The Pragmatic Theory of Truth

True propositions are simply those that 'work', hence successful in practice - pragmatically.