Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Natalie Galbraith



Epistemology Final- Natalie Galbraith

Initial Question: Can knowledge be false?

To begin this unit we were all faced with the question “what is knowledge?” Initially i thought information is knowledge.  Then I started to wonder and came across my question.  If knowledge is information, and information can be false, can knowledge be false?  The reading I found helped the most with answering my question.  It was a paper about knowledge and assumptions highlighting the idea that the majority of our knowledge is based on assumptions.  It used the example of parking your car to help explain this better.  If you park your car in front of your house then go inside, you have the knowledge that your car is in front of your house, but what if the car is stolen while you’re inside?  You have a justifiable reason to believe your car is parked outside, but it is still false knowledge.

During my in class discussions I didn’t learn much more new information on my topic but I did gather a more solid understanding of what the paper had been addressing.  With Sydney we talked about the differences between true, true belief, and justified belief.  We agreed true is something you are seeing, justified belief is something you saw, and true belief we struggled to define but decided it is something you haven’t seen but still believe in.  Defining these ideas made me think about my topic more because they connected to each other.  Most of our knowledge is based on assumptions, but our assumptions are justified by other events or facts.  You may have the justified belief that your car is in front of your house because you parked it there, but unless you are looking at the car at that point in time you are just assuming no one has stolen it.

For my Phil’s day off i decided to keep it simple and ask some of the people around me a question I had.  I asked them if they thought knowledge was what they know or what they think they know.  I asked three people and they all agreed that knowledge is what you think you know.  All this helped me with was once again confirming that knowledge is based on assumptions and assumptions can be proven false at any time.

Conclusion: Knowledge can not only be false, but a large portion of the time it ends up being so because even if we have justified belief of something we never know if that information is true unless we are directly seeing it occur.



Our Knowledge is False – Natalie Galbraith

A. We all began epistemology with the question of what is knowledge? I personally came to the conclusion that knowledge is information, but then I wondered if knowledge is information, and the information is afterwards proven false, is it still knowledge?

B. To try and answer my question I found a paper about knowledge and assumptions.  The paper explained how most of our knowledge, even if we have a justified reason to believe it is true, is based on assumptions.  This helped me to realize how not only some, but most of our knowledge could be false.

ou may know other things that are in some sense supported by things you merely take for granted in this way. For example, you may know that your car is outside in front of your house. Your knowledge rests on various assumptions that you do not know but justifiably take for granted—that there is an external world including cars and houses, that you are not a brain in a vat who simply imagines you have a car and a house, and that no one has taken your car away since you parked it in front of your house an hour ago.

Knowledge and Assumptions

During our discussions I talked with Sydney about the differences between true, true belief, and justified belief.  We agreed true is something you are seeing, justified belief is something you saw, and true belief we struggled with to define but decided it is something you haven’t seen but believe in.  This conversation connected to my topic because justified belief is what most of our knowledge is based on, and the definitions we came up with for these three topics solidified for me what I had gotten from the paper.

C. The paper I read and the in class discussions really helped me to answer my question.  When I used to think of knowledge I thought of things like facts and truth but the paper helped to show me how there is much more to it.  The discussions we had in class also helped to back up everything the paper was saying and furthered my understanding of it.




Knowledge and Assumptions- Natalie Galbraith

If you park your car in front of your house then go inside, you have the knowledge that your car is in front of your house, but what if the car is stolen while you’re inside?  The knowledge you now have is false, which leads me to my question; can knowledge be false information?

When talking about knowledge people typically think about truth, facts, justification, and other more factual aspects.  The article I found was different and discussed how our knowledge is mostly based on our assumptions.

Knowledge and Assumptions

The article mentions how when planning our future we take many things for granted, such as by simply thinking about where you’ll be next year you are taking for granted that you have not died from a heart attack before that time.  This reading really helped show me how most of the things we think we know could be false, most things are an assumption.  Even if you have a justified reason to believe something is correct you are only assuming it to be true unless you are seeing it happen at that moment.  Even if you parked your car in front of your house, you are only assuming it is still there unless you can see the car at that moment.  Therefore the majority of knowledge we have could be false because we are always assuming.

knowledge often rests on assumptions that you are justified in making even though you do not know those assumptions to be true.



What’s your purpose? -Natalie Galbraith

My initial question about if there really is a meaning to life or if we make it up ourselves led me to an article about if a lack of purpose in life leads to boredom. The article led me to understanding how most humans need to live for something larger than themselves; they must have a purpose. So essentially there is a meaning to life, but it is different to each individual person.

Does life have meaning? -Natalie Galbraith

In one of my discussions with other people we talked about the importance of money vs happiness.  This really emphasized the fact that each person is different and has different values.  Some people find it more important to become rich in life whereas others believed the importance of being happy out weighed wealth.

To explore my question further in the real world I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do at first.  Eventually I came to the decision that I should do nothing.  This may sound lazy but I did actually think this through.  Before this from my previous exploration of my question I had come to the realization that I too feel like I need a purpose in life.  My only issue was that I wasn’t entirely sure what that purpose was.  Because I was unsure I decided to carry out my weekend as normal and see if anything came up.  My weekend was very typical, I saw friends, I went to the gym, and I went to work, but by the end I had come to a conclusion.  For me personally, the meaning of life is to be happy and enjoy as much of it as I can.  I realized this while thinking about my weekend and what I had done over the course of three days.  When I was at work I really wished I could have been somewhere else doing something more enjoyable with my time.  This brings me back to the topic of money vs happiness, I realized that for me personally I would rather have time to enjoy myself than have lots of money but spend all my time working.  Every single person is different, some believe the meaning of life is to help others, or to eventually go to heaven, or to become overly rich, or even just as simple as mine, to be happy and enjoy themselves.



Does life have meaning? – Natalie Galbraith

A. My question was about whether life has a true meaning we find over time, or if it is a social construct we make up.  I chose this question because I find the idea of it interesting.  Do things such as the meaning of life really exist? Or have humans made it up to cope with the idea of life and how truly insignificant we could be in the universe?

Does a lack of meaning cause boredom?

according to frankl (1959/1962/1984, 1978), the conditions of modern society have left many individuals with a feeling of meaninglessness—an affliction he refers to as an existential vacuum. When this condition remains unresolved, individuals are said to “lack the awareness of a meaning worth living for. they are haunted by the experience of their inner emptiness, a void within themselves” (frankl, 1959/1962/1984, p. 128). frankl further contends that “the existential vacuum manifests itself mainly in a state of boredom”

C. The paper I found addresses the correlation between people without meaning or purpose in their lives, and the link to higher levels of boredom, depression, and anxiety.  It mentions the importance of one having meaning in their life as for some people, the quest to find and fulfill a sense of meaning in their life is the escence of human motivation.  Without meaningful life goals people are more easily susceptable to developing chronic boredom.  Many aspects of this paper gave me light towards my original question.  Mostly the many experiments conducted to link lack of purpose and boredom to each other were what gave me my answer.  

the purpose of study 1a was to determine whether boredom, life meaning, depression and anxiety are correlated, yet psychometri- cally distinct, constructs. to achieve this purpose, structural equa- tion modeling analyses were used to determine whether these vari- ables could be best described as four separate constructs.

Many of the studies conducted seemed repetitive to me as they all have the same objective; to link life meaning, boredom, anxiety, and depression, but they all proved to be true.  People who are depressed or severely bored don’t see anything bigger to live for than themselves. The meaning of life is different to every single person, which is why there is no “true” meaning of life.  The meaning of life is a social construct for humans to be able to cope with life.

When we talk about someone having a sense of “meaning” in life, it means they believe life has a certain significance to it, so they act according to those beliefs. What a person believes to be meaningful can vary though. for example, some people might believe that life is about helping others so they try to do things that make a difference in the world. someone else might believe that life is about trying to be satisfied, so they then try to be happy or to enjoy themselves. others might feel life is about achievement and success, so they try to make money. others might believe that the purpose of life is to serve god, allah, gaia, or some kind of higher power or deity. there are many ways people’s lives can be meaningful. having a sense of “meaning in life” means that a person determines their goals and behaviour based on the beliefs that they have about their life meaning and purpose. a person who says their life is really meaningful is someone who spends their time doing things that fit with those beliefs.

After coming to this conclusion this leads me to wonder why?  Why are so many humans not capable of going through life without the idea of something larger, more important than them, pushing them through each day.  Is it because humans are naturally self centered and hate the idea of our lives being insignificant in comparison to the universe?  Or is it the opposite where we need to believe in something bigger in hopes we aren’t all that’s to the universe?



The Problem With Free Tuition- Natalie Galbraith

“The Problem Is That Free College Isn’t Free”

The article I chose for this assignment is arguing against free college tuition for students using these main points:

  • “Free college” isn’t actually free, it just shifts the cost from students to taxpayers which limits the college spending to what ever taxpayers are willing to pay.
  • Free college will increase enrolments causing the taxes to increase and continuously grow over time.  Eventually these costs will not be able to cover all resources forcing the schools to compromise the quality of their offerings.
  • Free college plans assume that tuition prices are the main obstacle to student success, looking past problems of educational quality and college readiness.

A national push for tuition-free college would strain public budgets even further, leading to shortages rather than increased access.

Truth, Validity, and Soundness: This article has truth and validity as it is not only factually correct, but it gives specific examples of colleges and places free tuition has been attempted at showing the validity of the authors argument.  The truth and validity of this article also makes it a sound argument.