Gettier's Problem

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Philosophy
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Epistemology is the branch of philosophy which is mainly associated with the discussion about the concept of knowledge (Ichikawa). The problem of defining knowledge has been discussed by the…

Introduction

Gettier presented two cases in which subjects achieve the justified true belief, but fail to recognize it, proving that knowledge varies from justified true belief. Consequently, the cases refute the classic definition of knowledge, generating the ‘Gettier’s problem’ to satisfy the exact definition of knowledge (Gettier 121-123).
According to the traditional theory, justified true belief (JTB) is knowledge when three necessary and fundamental conditions are fulfilled. In other words, “S knows P if and only if (iff) – 1. P is true; 2. S believes P; and 3. S is justified in believing P” (Gettier 121). With the help of two cases, Gettier exposed the flaws of the definition. In his first example, Gettier showed that Smith had a justified belief that a man with ten coins in his pocket will get a job. Smith had evidences about ten coins in Jones’ pocket and hence, he believed that Jones would get a job. But he was unaware about the ten coins in his pocket. Based on the belief, Smith got the job instead of Jones. Here, though Smith’s justified belief was true, but it was based on false assumption, hence one can’t say that Smith had knowledge (Gettier 121-122). Similarly, in other example, Smith had strong evidence about the Jones’ ownership of a Ford car. Also, Smith had another friend, Brown, whose location was unknown to Smith. Based on the belief, Smith concluded three outcomes- “1. Either Jones owns a Ford, or Brown is in Boston; 2. Either Jones owns a Ford, or Brown is in Barcelona; 3. Either Jones owns a Ford, or Brown is in Brest-Litovsk” (Gettier 122). Gettier further revealed the facts that the car was rented by Jones and Brown was located in Barcelona. In this case, though second conclusion was true, Smith didn’t know that it was true. Consequently, it violated the first condition of JTB, leading to the conclusion that Smith had no knowledge (Gettier 122-123). In a way, ...
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