Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Mangled Midterms: I’m Shook

Proposition: Knowledge exists when one’s true justified beliefs correspond with one’s perceived reality.

Knowledge defined as justified true belief is relatively broad but holds a current day truth of one of the many definitions of knowledge. This is because of one of the arguments brought up by British philosopher Bertrand Russell about true belief being the definition for knowledge. Russell argued that true belief could not be a possible definition for knowledge because it would be possible that “knowledge” could be based off false belief. An example of this is would be if your friend thought your dog’s name started with the letter “S”, which they believe to be true, since your dog’s name is Spot. However, if your friend believes your dog’s name is Sparky, your friend will still believe your dog’s name starts with the letter “S”, which is true and a belief your friend still has. But, this technically true belief is not knowledge, and was deduced from a false belief. Though, justified true belief adds a third and fourth criteria for something to constitute as knowledge: you are justified in believing said belief. This is where things may get a little messy because this is when the perception aspect of my proposition comes in. One’s perception of reality can differ greatly from one another. The only way I can really try and explain this one is using Descartes theory- you can’t really know what everyone else is perceiving and/or what actually exists. There is no way for me to know I perceive the colour blue the same way as anyone else. For all I know, someone may perceive what I perceive as the colour orange as the colour blue. I know it is a very confusing concept that I probably could have worded better but it’s the best I got.

photo creds: http://www.123opticalillusions.com/pages/opticalillusions36.gif

Premise 1: People may have different perceived realities

In Descartes first meditation of philosophy, he basically discredits the existence of everything except for the “thing that thinks”. Descartes stripped down his thinking to all true beliefs ultimately deducing that our senses are unreliable, we do not know whether or not we’re dreaming and there may be a deceitful all-powerful god or demon. The only known thing that Descartes is left with after his first meditation is that he does exist. He seemed to come to the conclusion that nothing is certain, and nothing we know is certain. This is due to the various ways in which everyone’s perception of the world is limited to their own, therefore leading to multitudes of varying perceptions of reality.

“Your reality is as you perceive it to be. So, it is true, by altering this perception we can alter our reality.”

-William Constantine

Premise 2: Knowledge can be defined as justified true beliefs

Plato is most often the philosopher praised for evolving the definition of knowledge from true belief to justified true belief. In this definition of knowledge three principles must be met: it must be a belief, it must be true, and it must be a justified belief. However this model of justified true belief lasted until American philosopher Edmund Gettier challenged Plato’s definition arguing that a justified tru belief can be false. When something supposedly constructs knowledge, it can still be true, it can still be believed as true and it can still be justified in believing it as true. But, in some cases, the justification for making a knowledge claim is false, and therefore can not be considered knowledge. So, as an additional aspect of justified true beliefs came the justification does not depend on a false statement. Though epistemologists are still trying to determine the means of justification, this definition of knowledge is one that many philosophers have accepted.

Conclusion: Knowledge exists when one’s true justified beliefs correspond with one’s perceived reality

My thinking behind my conclusion of what I know about knowledge is derived from the simple idea that nothing is certain. I probably perceive the world completely differently than most of my peers, and even if I didn’t, there would be no way to be sure. The only thing that I am aware of is the way I perceive reality. Justified true beliefs equate to knowledge, however these justified true beliefs can only become knowledge when they correlate to the perceived world or reality they exist in. So if in my perceived world I have the true belief that the world is flat which was hypothetically true and I was justified in believing that and my justification was based on a true statement, the Earth being flat would constistute as knowledge for me. It seems relatively impossible to justify something if in your perceived reality if and/or when said justification does not exist because it could not become knowledge. Therefore knowledge can only exist when true justified beliefs conform to the parameters of the perceived reality.

Side Note: Here is a really helpful crash course on epistemology, more specifically defining knowledge


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