Sufficient conditions of knowledge

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kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 2 Dec, 2009 07:41 pm
@Kielicious,
Kielicious;107686 wrote:
Ok, the analogy isnt equivalent.

There arent any colors in the dark because color is defined by what wavelength is being reflected off of the said object. So no light means no color. Similarly if there was no auditoy frequency then there wouldnt be sounds.


People could identify color way before they knew anything about wavelengths. And can now. Children can identify red, but know nothing about angstrom units. And, of course, it there were no sound waves, there would be no sound. But that does not mean that sound is only sound waves.
 
Kielicious
 
Reply Wed 2 Dec, 2009 07:45 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;107689 wrote:
People could identify color way before they knew anything about wavelengths. And can now. Children can identify red, but know nothing about angstrom units. And, of course, it there were no sound waves, there would be no sound. But that does not mean that sound is only sound waves.


And when did I say that people couldnt identify colors before our knowledge of wavelenghts? I seriously dont follow this at all...
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 2 Dec, 2009 07:57 pm
@Kielicious,
Kielicious;107692 wrote:
And when did I say that people couldnt identify colors before our knowledge of wavelenghts? I seriously dont follow this at all...


You said that color is defined by wavelength. But people can say what red is and know nothing about wavelengths. Does that mean that they don't know that something is red. "Red" is the name of a color many apples have. We can define "red" by pointing at red things. In fact, that is how we teach children the term, "red".
 
Kielicious
 
Reply Wed 2 Dec, 2009 11:34 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;107696 wrote:
You said that color is defined by wavelength. But people can say what red is and know nothing about wavelengths. Does that mean that they don't know that something is red. "Red" is the name of a color many apples have. We can define "red" by pointing at red things. In fact, that is how we teach children the term, "red".



Seriously ken?...

If there is a third party viewing, do I really need to respond to the above statement?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 3 Dec, 2009 01:14 am
@Kielicious,
Kielicious;107742 wrote:
Seriously ken?...

If there is a third party viewing, do I really need to respond to the above statement?


Too subtle for me.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Thu 3 Dec, 2009 10:59 am
@fast,
Fast,

I'm sorry for going off-topic earlier. If you want me to clean up the thread, I will.

I am on the same page as you, and this is what is stopping me from clearly understanding what knowledge is. I'm now contemplating what you say about considering knowledge as a sum of its parts, instead of evaluating each condition individually. You're right, justification does not give us any verificiation that we have a true belief, it just gives us reason to believe that our belief can, and sometimes probably, is true.

It still confuses me whenever I consider the "true" part of JTB. I still don't see how true is distinguished from certain. If something can be true, and not certain, what makes something true - the possibility of being true? That wouldn't make sense, but if it's true, it seems to me that it is certainly true; if there is such a thing as an uncertain truth, wouldn't that just be me thinking something was true? And if I just think something is true, that wouldn't be enough for what we call knowledge. Or, is knowledge really just me having a justified belief that, for whatever reason ( I guess based on justification), has a strong possibilily of being true?

As many times as I've gone over this, for countless hours, and in countless threads, I still just don't get it.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 3 Dec, 2009 11:29 am
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;107834 wrote:
Fast,

I'm sorry for going off-topic earlier. If you want me to clean up the thread, I will.

I am on the same page as you, and this is what is stopping me from clearly understanding what knowledge is. I'm now contemplating what you say about considering knowledge as a sum of its parts, instead of evaluating each condition individually. You're right, justification does not give us any verificiation that we have a true belief, it just gives us reason to believe that our belief can, and sometimes probably, is true.

It still confuses me whenever I consider the "true" part of JTB. I still don't see how true is distinguished from certain. If something can be true, and not certain, what makes something true - the possibility of being true? That wouldn't make sense, but if it's true, it seems to me that it is certainly true; if there is such a thing as an uncertain truth, wouldn't that just be me thinking something was true? And if I just think something is true, that wouldn't be enough for what we call knowledge. Or, is knowledge really just me having a justified belief that, for whatever reason ( I guess based on justification), has a strong possibilily of being true?

As many times as I've gone over this, for countless hours, and in countless threads, I still just don't get it.


You addressed this to fast, and I am sure he can reply for himself. But consider this. Suppose I believe that p is true, and suppose that my belief that p is true is justified. Then, if in addition, my belief is true, then (barring Gettier-like objections) I know that p is true. There is no requirement that I be certain that p is true. It is sufficient that p is (in fact) true. (If there is a "strong possibility" that my belief is true, then it is also possible that it is not true. And, if it is not true, then I don't know it is true. So, "strong possiblity of truth" will not do the trick. Only if the belief is true do I know it is true).
By the way, by "the belief" I am referring to the proposition that I believe. Not to my mental state of believing that proposition.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Thu 3 Dec, 2009 11:51 am
@fast,
In your thought experiment you nonchalantly state, "Then, if in addition, my belief is true...", but in many real life scenarios, we may never be able to confirm whether something is actually true or not. If we cannot, how do we ever know that we know?

---------- Post added 12-03-2009 at 01:05 PM ----------

Wait, to know, do you have to know that you know?

"I know that Jim knows", isn't a tautology. Is "I know that I know" a tautology, though?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 3 Dec, 2009 12:05 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;107846 wrote:
In your thought experiment you nonchalantly state, "Then, if in addition, my belief is true...", but in many real life scenarios, we may never be able to confirm whether something is actually true or not. If we cannot, how do we ever know that we know?


But you (I thought) were asking about the definition of knowledge, and how we distinguish true from certain. And my reply was that certainty is not a requirement of knowing. But truth is. "True" and "certain" do not play in the same ball park. You don't have to be certain that a proposition is true, for the proposition to be true. There are many propositions that are true that I am not certain (beyond the possibility of error) that are true.

I don't know what you have in mind by "actually true", but if you are asking how we, in real life find out whether a proposition is true, I can say only, it depends on the proposition. There are different procedures depending on the kind of proposition it is. But if it is an empirical proposition, then, as the word implies, we have to use empirical procedures. If the proposition is that the cat is on the mat, and we can look, then we'll look to see whether the cat is on the mat. And we can discover whether or not the proposition is true directly. If, on the other hand, the proposition is about the past, for example, whether the postman has been yet, I guess we can look into the postbox to see whether there are letters in the box. If there are, then we infer that the postman has been. And, so on. But I am not telling you something you don't know. In fact, I am reminding you of something you already know. As Wittgenstein wrote, "Philosophy is the assemblage of reminders for a particular purpose".
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Thu 3 Dec, 2009 12:14 pm
@fast,
kennethamy wrote:

If, on the other hand, the proposition is about the past, for example, whether the postman has been yet, I guess we can look into the postbox to see whether there are letters in the box. If there are, then we infer that the postman has been.


The letters in the mailbox would be justification for my belief that it was true the mailman came, but it doesn't provide verification that it is true the mailman came. Because, even though the letters are in my mailbox, the mailman may not have come. So, how can I ever know the mailman ever came? I can think the mailman came. I can believe the mailman came. But I don't understand how I could ever know the mailman came, if we can only know what is true, and we cannot verify whether the mailman having come is true.

Even if we cannot verify, you're saying we just follow a procedure, and then call it knowledge. Does this mean there are different sorts of knowledge, then? Some we're more certain of than others? I suppose that would make sense, but I still don't see exactly where truth fits in.

Do we have to know what we know, to know? "I know that Jim knows", isn't a tautology. Is "I know that I know" a tautology, though?
 
fast
 
Reply Thu 3 Dec, 2009 12:18 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;107834 wrote:
I'm sorry for going off-topic earlier. If you want me to clean up the thread, I will.
No problem, and no, you need not bother.

I am interested in addressing your concerns, but I may not be able to respond today.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 3 Dec, 2009 01:04 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;107854 wrote:
The letters in the mailbox would be justification for my belief that it was true the mailman came, but it doesn't provide verification that it is true the mailman came. Because, even though the letters are in my mailbox, the mailman may not have come. So, how can I ever know the mailman ever came? I can think the mailman came. I can believe the mailman came. But I don't understand how I could ever know the mailman came, if we can only know what is true, and we cannot verify whether the mailman having come is true.

Even if we cannot verify, you're saying we just follow a procedure, and then call it knowledge. Does this mean there are different sorts of knowledge, then? Some we're more certain of than others? I suppose that would make sense, but I still don't see exactly where truth fits in.

Do we have to know what we know, to know? "I know that Jim knows", isn't a tautology. Is "I know that I know" a tautology, though?


It seems to me that your objection amounts to saying that you cannot be absolutely certain beyond the possibility of error that the mailman came. And that is true. But, I think that I already have said that certainty is not the criterion of knowledge. As I think I also said, I my belief (the proposition I believe) may be true, and I not be certain (or even know) that it is true. (Knowledge implies truth, but truth does not imply knowledge). So, I think there is no reason to believe that just because it is possible that I am mistaken about the mailman, and so I am not certain he came, that I do not know that he came. For I can know without being certain.

I don't think that "I know that I know" is a tautology. "I know that substance is copper" is not a tautology. Why should "I know that I know" be a tautology. Indeed, not only is it possible to know, and not know that one knows, but one cannot know that one knows without knowing in the first place. How can I know that I know unless I already know. And if that if true, then doesn't it follow that I can know without knowing I know?

Knowing I know is one of the meanings of "being certain". And, as I have already pointed out, since I an know without being certain, I can know without knowing that I know.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Thu 3 Dec, 2009 01:16 pm
@fast,
kennethamy wrote:

It seems to me that your objection amounts to saying that you cannot be absolutely certain beyond the possibility of error that the mailman came. And that is true. But, I think that I already have said that certainty is not the criterion of knowledge. As I think I also said, I my belief (the proposition I believe) may be true, and I not be certain (or even know) that it is true. (Knowledge implies truth, but truth does not imply knowledge). So, I think there is no reason to believe that just because it is possible that I am mistaken about the mailman, and so I am not certain he came, that I do not know that he came. For I can know without being certain.


What is the distinguishing factor that seperates a justified belief from knowledge? If I saw the mail in the mailbox, I would have justification for believing that the mailman came. I would probably even believe the mailbox came. But if I cannot directly verify that the mailman came, I cannot know that I know, and so why should I ever proclaim that I know the mailman came? I could be wrong that I know, couldn't I? And, then, in that case, I wouldn't have known after all.

Does my proclaiming that I know, for many things empirical, come with the implication "I know beyond a reasonable doubt"? If I say I know the mailman came, I am not saying it's true the mailman came, but rather that I think the mailman came beyond any reasonable doubt? We cannot know something that is false, but we can be mistaken about knowing something. So, since this is true, when we say we know, it's only a temporary placeholder until we can verify the truth? It's like being innocent until proven guilty -- I know until it's proven that I do not know (that whatever it was, was in fact false)?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 3 Dec, 2009 01:33 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;107863 wrote:
What is the distinguishing factor that seperates a justified belief from knowledge? If I saw the mail in the mailbox, I would have justification for believing that the mailman came. I would probably even believe the mailbox came. But if I cannot directly verify that the mailman came, I cannot know that I know, and so why should I ever proclaim that I know the mailman came? I could be wrong that I know, couldn't I? And, then, in that case, I wouldn't have known after all.

Is my proclaiming that I know, for many things empirical, come with the implication "I know beyond a reasonable doubt"? If I say I know the mailman came, I am not saying it's true the mailman came, but rather that I think the mailman came beyond any reasonable doubt? We cannot know something that is false, but we can be mistaken about knowing something. So, since this is true, when we say we know, it's only a temporary placeholder until we can verify the truth? It's like being innocent until proven guilty -- I know until it's proven that I do not know (that whatever it was, was in fact false)?


Yes. That is the price of being an Empiricist, and surrendering certainty. Your complaint is exactly the complaint that Descartes made when he argued that Empiricism inevitably led to skepticism, namely, the impossibility of knowledge. Of course, by "knowledge" Descartes meant certainty, and "knowing that one knows". And that's the bullet (if that is the word) that the Empiricist has to bite. Empirical knowledge is fallible knowledge, and the Empiricist must also be a fallibilist. A fallibilist is someone who holds that although it is necessary that if one knows that p, then p, but that it is false that if one holds that p, tnen p is necessary. (Sound familiar?). In other words, a fallibilist is not a skeptic. He holds that if we know that p, then p is true. But not that if we know that p, then p must be true. That if I know that p, I could be mistaken, but that I am not mistaken. And if my belief is justified, then, even if my belief might not be true, as long as it is true, then I have satisfied the conditions of knowledge. I have justified true belief. I know that you may find this unintuitive, and many do. But that is partly the fault of the language which misleads us into thinking that knowledge is certainty. Remember the modal fallacy. And how philosophy is a constant battle against the bewitchment of the intelligence by language.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Thu 3 Dec, 2009 01:47 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;107867 wrote:
Yes. That is the price of being an Empiricist, and surrendering certainty. Your complaint is exactly the complaint that Descartes made when he argued that Empiricism inevitably led to skepticism, namely, the impossibility of knowledge. Of course, by "knowledge" Descartes meant certainty, and "knowing that one knows". And that's the bullet (if that is the word) that the Empiricist has to bite. Empirical knowledge is fallible knowledge, and the Empiricist must also be a fallibilist. A fallibilist is someone who holds that although it is necessary that if one knows that p, then p, but that it is false that if one holds that p, tnen p is necessary. (Sound familiar?). In other words, a fallibilist is not a skeptic. He holds that if we know that p, then p is true. But not that if we know that p, then p must be true. That if I know that p, I could be mistaken, but that I am not mistaken. And if my belief is justified, then, even if my belief might not be true, as long as it is true, then I have satisfied the conditions of knowledge. I have justified true belief. I know that you may find this unintuitive, and many do. But that is partly the fault of the language which misleads us into thinking that knowledge is certainty. Remember the modal fallacy. And how philosophy is a constant battle against the bewitchment of the intelligence by language.


Do we think in language? If not, then I can tell you right now, I am confused even without using language.

What is the value in saying that you know something instead of saying that you have a justified belief for something, in regards to things empirical? As Plato noted, knowing and having a justified belief that is true, come to the same outcome. If my knowledge is fallible, why don't I just ditch "knowledge" altogether, and not proclaim that I know, since I don't know that I know?! When people hear "know", they think of certainty. "I know" sounds more certain than "I think" in language, but either case could actually be true! They may even be equally probabilitistically true (they have the same probability of being true)! So, am I not misleading people by saying that I know the mailman came?

Dude: "Hey, man, do you know if the mailman came today?"
Me: "I think the mailman came, that's all I can give you! Sorry, old chap!"
Dude: "But weren't you just here a moment ago when he was supposed to come? You must know!"
Me: "My knowledge is fallible, buddy, I could be wrong. But I may know. I just don't know if I know."
Dude: "You don't know if you know? Well, what good does that do me?!"
Me: "It does you no good, and I don't understand why I even voiced that! Now get lost!"
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 3 Dec, 2009 02:04 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;107870 wrote:
Do we think in language? If not, then I can tell you right now, I am confused even without using language.

What is the value in saying that you know something instead of saying that you have a justified belief for something, in regards to things empirical? If my knowledge is fallible, why don't I just ditch "knowledge" altogether, and not proclaim that I know, since I don't know that I know?!
Dude: "Hey, man, do you know if the mailman came today?"
Me: "I think the mailman came, that's all I can give you! Sorry, old chap!"
Dude: "But weren't you just here a moment ago? You must know!"
Me: "My knowledge is fallible, buddy, I could be wrong. But I may know. I just don't know if I know."
Dude: "You don't know if you know? Well, what good does that do me?!"
Me: "It does you no good, and I don't understand why I even voiced that! Now get lost!"


I really don't know how to answer you that. Suppose a teacher asks the class, who knows what the capital of Ecuador is? Suppose Mary raises her hand and say, I think I know. The teacher now says: "No, I want only those who really do know to answer". Mary says, "I know". The teacher asks, "How do you know?" Mary replies, "I spent two hours last night and studied all the capitals of South America, so I do know, I don't just think I know." Teacher say, "All right, then, what is the capital of Ecuador". Mary replies, "Quito", and the teacheer replies, you are right, it is the capital. Did Mary know? Yes, she did. Was it possible for Mary to be mistaken. Yes. Of course it was. But is there a difference between her having only justified belief that Quito is the capital and her knowing it. Of course. Since she would have had justified belief even if she had been mistaken. But she would not have known if she had been mistaken. Isn't that right?

As I asked, why should I have to know that I know in order to know, any more than I have to know that Quito is the capital of Ecuador in order for Quito to be the capital of Ecuador? Have you a reply to that? Or know that I am 6 feet tall in order to be 6 feet tall. That I know that p is just a fact about me (like that I am 6 feet tall). And I can be 6 feet tall without knowing I am; so what can't I know that p without knowing that I know that p? I can, after all, believe that I know that p. And when I tell you I know that p, I believe I know that p (unless, of course, I am lying to you).
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Thu 3 Dec, 2009 02:15 pm
@fast,
kennethamy wrote:

But is there a difference between her having only justified belief that Quito is the capital and her knowing it. Of course. Since she would have had justified belief even if she had been mistaken. But she would not have known if she had been mistaken. Isn't that right?


But she could have said Quito without knowing, too. She could have said Quito only holding a justified belief. Heck, her saying Quito could have just been a guess, even if she had studied!

Quote:

As I asked, why should I have to know that I know in order to know, any more than I have to know that Quito is the capital of Ecuador in order for Quito to be the capital of Ecuador?


Because if I do not know that I know, even if I really do know, I'm hesistant to say I know, because I could be mistaken. I wouldn't want to mislead anyone. Why would I say I know unless I'm sure of it? If I thought I was sure I was six feet tall, I would tell people I know I'm six feet tall. And I am sure about many things like that, including capitals. However, when we start speaking of things which are spatially or temporally dependent, things which are empirically observed, and which I do not always have direct access to, I start doubting myself. And, so, I do not want to say I know without some sort of certainty. Because, if I was wrong about knowing, I would be misleading people.

I at least want psychological certainty, even if I'm not epistemically certain. And if I can't have that, this happens :surrender: followed by :brickwall:.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 3 Dec, 2009 02:30 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;107878 wrote:
But she could have said Quito without knowing, too. She could have said Quito only holding a justified belief. Heck, her saying Quito could have just been a guess, even if she had studied!



Because if I do not know that I know, even if I really do know, I'm hesistant to say I know, because I could be mistaken. I wouldn't want to mislead anyone. Why would I say I know unless I'm sure of it? If I thought I was sure I was six feet tall, I would tell people I know I'm six feet tall. And I am sure about many things like that, including capitals. However, when we start speaking of things which are spatially or temporally dependent, things which are empirical, I start doubting myself. And, so, I do not want to say I know without certainty. Because, if I was wrong about knowing, I would be misleading people.



I have no qualms about saying that I know that Quito is the capital of Ecuador although it is not impossible that I should be mistaken. That is because I believe that Quito is the capital, and the probability of my being mistaken is vanishingly small. So, I can say, with complete confidence, that I know that Quito is the capital, and would if I had too.

Sorry, I have no idea what you mean by, "we start speaking of things which are spatially or temporally dependent, things which are empirical". Of course, it is true that when I say that "I know" I am giving my word to people that I have done what has to be done to make sure that what I say I know is true. But that has to do with saying I know. And what is required for saying I know may, or may not be, required for knowing.

Yes, Mary could have said, "Quito" without believing she knew it was Quito. But so what. There is still a difference between having only justified belief that it is Quito, and knowing it is Quito. You can have the first without its being true that it is Quito. But you cannot have the second without its being true that it is Quito. So, what Mary could or could not have said, doesn't seem to have much to do with it.

The fact is that there is as much difference between having only justified belief, and knowing, as there is between being 5 feet tall, and being 6 feet tall. The difference may not make a difference sometimes, but it may other times, and, whether or not it makes a difference, there is still a difference.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Thu 3 Dec, 2009 02:36 pm
@fast,
I know there's a difference between justified belief and knowledge. Perhaps you misunderstood me, because I never said there wasn't a difference. That's not the problem I'm having, you're beating the wrong horse. The problem I'm having is knowing when I should say I know, and knowing when I should say I only have a justified belief.

You're confident Quito is the capital of Ecuador because, "I believe that Quito is the capital, and the probability of my being mistaken is vanishingly small.", and from this you feel comfortable saying that you know.

I don't feel as comfortable saying I know unless I have that psychological certainty you seem to have. And I don't have it that often (psychological certainty). So, I may know many things, but my never knowing if I do actually know, presents to me a problem.

Maybe this isn't a philosophical problem, but rather a personal problem. I fear being mistaken.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 3 Dec, 2009 02:54 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;107885 wrote:
I know there's a difference between justified belief and knowledge. Perhaps you misunderstood me, because I never said there wasn't a difference. That's not the problem I'm having, you're beating the wrong horse. The problem I'm having is knowing when I should say I know, and knowing when I should say I only have a justified belief.

You're confident Quito is the capital of Ecuador because, "I believe that Quito is the capital, and the probability of my being mistaken is vanishingly small.", and from this you feel comfortable saying that you know.

I don't feel as comfortable saying I know unless I'm psychological certain. And, with many things, I'm not.


I think you should say that you know when you think you have enough justification for thinking it is true that p, and say, you have only justified belief when you think that there isn't enough justification to thinking it is true that p. Of course, you might be wrong about that, both ways.

If you are not confident that p is true, then, of course, you ought not to say that you know (even if you do know). Mary might be timid, and know that the capital is Quito, but be so timid that she cannot bring herself to say that she knows. But that does not mean that she doesn't know. It just means she is timid. Do not confuse not saying you know, with not knowing, nor saying you know with not knowing. What you say, and what is true, can be different things. And you may not say you know that p, not because you don't know that p, but for other extraneous reasons. Do you perhaps have the idea that if you know, then you should know that you know, otherwise, you don't really know? And that is what makes you hesitant about saying that you know? That might be what is going on. And that is why I asked the question whether knowing is a mental state. For the belief that it is a mental state often leads people into thinking that if one knows, one should know that one knows, since we all have direct access to our own mental states. Whether or not that is true, it doesn't matter if knowing is not a mental state. Another source of the false belief that knowledge is certainty besides the modal fallacy is the notion that knowing is a mental state.
 
 

 
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