IV. Knowledge, Skepticism, Truth

IV. Knowledge, Skepticism, Truth - n n n n C. Abbott,...

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III. Knowledge, Skepticism, and Truth n C. Abbott, Flatland [Vspace] n Descartes, “The Method of Doubt” n Russell, “The Correspondence Theory of Truth” n Rorty, “Dismantling Truth”
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Introductory Remarks n Epistemology : the theory of knowledge n Not asking  what  the world is like, rather  how we  know  what the world is like n Questions about belief, knowledge,  justification, objectively/subjectivity
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A few things to notice n There are some things that are true, but  no one knows them n The exact number of atoms in this room n The precise instant that Julius Caesar crossed  the Rubicon River n In both cases, there is a fact-of-the-matter n We just don’t have access to it
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Key distinction: n Reality—the way the world is n Perception—how things seem to us n What people believe about reality does not  make it so n Give me an example of something everyone  once believed that was false
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Terms: Knowledge, Belief, and Justification n Traditionally, to  know  that x is to have a  justified, true belief that x n K=JTB n Knowledge is not merely belief n A person can believe something that is false n One cannot have  knowledge  of something  that is false n People  believed  that the earth was the center of  the universe.  We now  know  that’s not the case.
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JTB n Plus, even if you believe something that is  true, it can’t just be a lucky guess in order  to be knowledge n If you guess the right answer on a quiz, you  didn’t  know  the right answer n In order to be knowledge, you have to have  some reason (justification) for believing it
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Example: Humor Theory of Medicine n Four Humors: n too much blood: sanguine. n too much phlegm: phlegmatic. n too much yellow bile: choleric n too much black bile: melancholic.  n People sometimes say that was “true for them” n Russell will show that this is impossible n They certainly  believed  it n Plus, they had  justification  for that belief
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First question of epistemology: n Do we  know  anything at all?  If so, what? n We all have beliefs n But do we have knowledge? n Do we know anything about the world or do we just  have a lot of opinions?
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Skeptic: n You don’t know anything n All locked behind our own little world of  experience n No guarantee that any of my beliefs are true n All beliefs are fallible and ultimately  untrustworthy n Two traditional approaches to answering  the skeptic:
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Rationalism : n There are some things we know  a priori n Prior to any experience whatsoever n E.g., a chalk figure cannot be both a triangle and a  square at the same time n Don’t need to go out and do a scientific study of  triangles to know that’s true n Perhaps even some ethical truths:
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IV. Knowledge, Skepticism, Truth - n n n n C. Abbott,...

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