Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Epistemology – Final


Upon searching on the internet for epistemology and knowledge, I happen to encounter The Gettier Problem which caught my attention. For some time, the justified true belief (JTB) account was widely agreed to capture the nature of knowledge. However, in 1963, Edmund Gettier published a short but widely influential article which has shaped epistemology quite differently. Gettier provided two examples in which someone had a true and justified belief, but in which we seem to want to deny that the individual has knowledge because luck still seems to play a role in his belief having turned out to be true.

Consider an example. Suppose that the clock on campus (which keeps accurate time and is well maintained) stopped working at 11:56pm last night, and has yet to be repaired. On my way to my noon class, exactly twelve hours later, I glance at the clock and form the belief that the time is 11:56. My belief is true, of course, since the time is indeed 11:56. And my belief is justified, as I have no reason to doubt that the clock is working, and I cannot be blamed for basing beliefs about the time on what the clock says. Nonetheless, it seems evident that I do not know that the time is 11:56. After all, if I had walked past the clock a bit earlier or a bit later, I would have ended up with a false belief rather than a true one.

This example and others like it seem to show that it is possible for justified true belief to fail to represent knowledge. Initially, the justification condition was meant to ensure that knowledge was based on solid evidence rather than on luck or misinformation, but Gettier-type examples seem to show that justified true belief can still involve luck and thus fall short of knowledge. To solve this problem, we must either show that all instances of justified true belief do indeed constitute knowledge, or alternatively reevaluate our analysis of knowledge.



My discussion with others is mainly upon whether our knowledge, to some extent, is based on “luck”. The Gettier Problem somewhat proves that without luck, the knowledge that we think is true and justified can actually be wrong. After hearing the theory behind The Gettier Problem, all of us agree that justified true knowledge does rely on luck to a certain extent. Which brought us further to questions like:

Are the JTF we know right now ACTUALLY true, or just true because of luck?

Can knowledge justified by luck still be Knowledge?

Is “luck” one of the limitations of knowledge?

There are many JTF that we can prove to be true at any moment, such as 2 + 2 =4. However, what if the person who discovered 2+2=4 used clay to prove the theory? His answer would no longer be 4, instead, it should be 1. These kinds of “what ifs…” may be a bit far-fetched, but consider the fact that these JTFs are so widely used, it may seem a bit shaky when the equation 2+2=4 can actually be published and taught as 2+2=1.

My conclusion after the discussions is that knowledge does have a lot of limitations, and “luck” happens to be one of them. It may sound absurd because “knowledge” and “luck” doesn’t mix well together since luck doesn’t happen as often while knowledge should be applicable at all times to be considered as knowledge.

Active Learning

What is my goal?

To explore all sorts of justified true knowledge and evaluate whether they are justified at all times, or justified by luck.

What did I achieve & learn?

After investigating some of the most obvious JTF I can find around myself, I realize that many of the truth I see can be true just by luck. For example, it is debatable that many of the equations we are using in Calculus 12 are proven true because of partially luck. Also, it is unreasonable to assume that the clock in my house is working properly just because I see 9:16am and 9:16pm correctly out of the whole day. There are many knowledge that I know which can be true at certain moments because of “luck”, and false when it is not at the exact moment or condition.

What do you still want to know?

I would like to know if there is a way to prove that knowledge is true for eternity, not only for a period of time but forever.

How is this Phils Day Off different from the last one?

I feel like this Phils Day Off is more close to me than the last one because I try to associate my thinking and mind into the topic. Last time I simply search up on the internet for methods to discover and calm my emotions. This time, I try to discover different kinds of JTF around me and try to prove to myself that whether this knowledge can be true for all cases, or it might be true because of “luck”.

Final Thoughts

The idea of The Gettier Problem truely opens up a lot of questions for me. The reading part was surprisingly interesting than Metaphysics because I was able to ask myself several questions along the way. Discussion with others didn’t seem to have much debate or exchange in opinions, but instead most of the people I talked to were able to understand and agree with the idea that knowledge, to a certain extent, relys on luck. I was looking forward to people who might have a different opinion that can contradict the Gettier Problem, but no one really poses a solid arguement. Phils Day Off was probably the most interesting one i have experienced through out the unit. I was able to relate my surroundings with my topic, and really get to think and evaluate the obvoius knowledge I think are JTF. Over all, I feel like this unit gave me a really different view towards knowledge as a whole. I am starting to doubt almost everything I am taught in Calculus and physics thanks to this unit.




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