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“Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?” by Gettier Essay

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Updated: Jun 22nd, 2019

The thesis of Gettier’s article “Is Justified, True Belief Knowledge?” is centralized around methods of substantiating knowledge. According to the author, knowing that something is true takes several dimensions.

A person’s claim to knowledge depends on several factors including what the individual knows is true, his/her belief, and his/her right to be convinced. According to Ayer, these three factors form the basis of knowledge and its underlying definition.

On the other hand, Gettier argues that justified belief knowledge is false because it does not incorporate the element of ‘sufficient’ truth. Consequently, justified belief knowledge cannot be used to ascertain that a particular person knows that a certain proposition is true.

In addition, the article reveals that the concepts of ‘the right to be sure that’ and ‘has adequate evidence for’ only work if the element of ‘justified true belief’ is not introduced in an analysis. Gettier’s argument in the article “Is Justified, True Belief Knowledge?” focuses on the premises of truth, justified knowledge, adequate knowledge, and the right to be sure about something.

According to Gettier, in order for someone to know certain information several conditions have to be met. The first important condition for knowing certain information is the truthfulness of the particular suggestion. For instance, for someone to know a proposition, believe in it, accept it, and be sure it is the truth, the ‘information’ itself has to be true.

Gettier refutes the premise of justifiable true belief using the arguments of two other scholars; Chisholm and Ayer. According to Chisholm, a person has to accept a proposal and have adequate evidence to prove it in order for the aforementioned proposal to be true.

On the other hand, Ayer argues that any proposal is initially true. Consequently, a person becomes sure that the proposal is true, and he/she has the right to believe that it is so. According to Gettier, Ayer and Chisholm’s arguments are only true if the concept of ‘justified true belief’ is not introduced into their assertions.

Gettier’s main protest against ‘justified true belief’ is the fact that a person can use it to believe falsehoods. This argument is valid because believing in a proposition chiefly depends on the truthfulness of a conviction. Consequently, ‘believing’ a falsehood cannot be equated to ‘knowing’ it.

For example, someone can belief that person X is honest because he/she is justified to believe this to be true. The person’s conviction does not qualify to be termed as knowledge, because the person’s justified belief does not amount to ‘true knowledge’. When the same person finds out that X is dishonest, the premise of ‘justified true knowledge’ will subsequently be nullified.

Gettier uses parallel situations to access the premise of justified true belief. This method is quite effective because it enables Gettier to explore every possible outcome of a scenario that involves justified true belief. The author also offers a step-by-step analysis of what constitutes knowledge.

For example, the article contains two case-examples that pose hypothetical knowledge scenarios. In both scenarios, the author is able to prove that justifiable true belief does not provide substantial grounds for knowledge. Another argument that the author dwells upon although it is not given prominence involves changes in knowledge.

The article clearly proposes that propositions that are subject to future changes cannot be considered to be true. In retrospect, the author’s argument against justified true belief is another way of proving that true knowledge does not change.

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IvyPanda. 2019. ""Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?" by Gettier." June 22, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/is-justified-true-belief-knowledge-by-gettier/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) '"Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?" by Gettier'. 22 June.

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