I have been interested in epistemology for a while, but I have been on such a busy schedule lately that I haven’t had time to work out my theories a whole lot. So far, this wikipedia.com entry has been my only source of information and introduction to epistemology problems.

Epistemology is a study that analyzes knowledge and belief including its nature, limitations, and validity. The field of epistemology is fairly recent in philosophy, but it has its roots back to Plato. Plato asserted that knowledge involved both belief and truth. According to Plato, all of our knowledge stemmed from where those two overlapped. Also included is justification, which verifies the truth of the belief. These three combined result in knowledge.

Justification is undoubtedly important. But what happens when your belief is justified and true, but not be knowledge? (Search the Wikipedia page for examples). This  is a problem asked by Gettier. One response, as proposed by Kirkham, is that justification only works if truth is a necessity for that justification.

What are your thoughts on epistemology?

2 thoughts on “Epistemology

  1. Personally I think the Gettier problem demolishes the theory that knowledge is justified true belief. It does, of course, leave us with the question of what we want knowledge to be.

    Again, speaking personally, I’ve always been attracted to pragmatist accounts that leave room for knowledge to be tentative and negotiable. When you think about it, “justified true belief” contains three philosophically complicated ideas, whereas “knowledge” is just one, so on the face of it the traditional “explanation” or “definition” of knowledge never was much good anyway.

    I suspect, for example, that any attempt to pin down “justification” is futile, and that if Gettier doesn’t, ahem, get ya, then another similar case will. As for truth, well, that can be slippery too.

    I wrote a short piece about Gettier problems on Big Ideas — you may or may not find the links there useful. You might also enjoy the Paderewski problem if you’re not familiar with it.



  2. Thanks for the comment.

    I have to admit that Epistemology is not my field of specialty… I am in fact a complete Epistemology “n00b”. I am curious, though, what you think of the structuralist approach to the analysis of knowledge.


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