Reliabilism has been a significant line of response to the Gettier problem among philosophers, originating with work by Alvin Goldman in the s. According to reliabilism, a belief is justified or otherwise supported in such a way as to count towards knowledge only if it is produced by processes that typically yield a sufficiently high ratio of true to false beliefs.
In other words, this theory states that a true belief counts as knowledge only if it is produced by a reliable belief-forming process. Examples of reliable processes include: Reliabilism has been challenged by Gettier cases. In the thought experiment, a man, Henry, is driving along and sees a number of buildings that resemble barns. Based on his perception of one of these, he concludes that he has just seen barns.
Theoretically, Henry does not know that he has seen a barn, despite both his belief that he has seen one being true and his belief being formed on the basis of a reliable process i. Robert Nozick has offered the following definition of knowledge: S knows that P if and only if:. Nozick argues that the third of these conditions serves to address cases of the sort described by Gettier.
Nozick further claims this condition addresses a case of the sort described by D. His belief via the method of the courtroom satisfies the four subjunctive conditions, but his faith-based belief does not. If his daughter were guilty, he would still believe her innocent, on the basis of faith in his daughter; this would violate the third condition. The British philosopher Simon Blackburn has criticized this formulation by suggesting that we do not want to accept as knowledge beliefs, which, while they "track the truth" as Nozick's account requires , are not held for appropriate reasons.
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He says that "we do not want to award the title of knowing something to someone who is only meeting the conditions through a defect, flaw, or failure, compared with someone else who is not meeting the conditions. Timothy Williamson has advanced a theory of knowledge according to which knowledge is not justified true belief plus some extra condition s , but primary.
In his book Knowledge and its Limits , Williamson argues that the concept of knowledge cannot be broken down into a set of other concepts through analysis—instead, it is sui generis. Thus, though knowledge requires justification, truth, and belief, the word "knowledge" can't be, according to Williamson's theory, accurately regarded as simply shorthand for "justified true belief".
Alvin Goldman writes in his Causal Theory of Knowing that for knowledge to truly exist there must be a causal chain between the proposition and the belief of that proposition. A central debate about the nature of justification is a debate between epistemological externalists on the one hand, and epistemological internalists on the other.
Externalists hold that factors deemed "external", meaning outside of the psychological states of those who gain knowledge, can be conditions of justification. For example, an externalist response to the Gettier problem is to say that for a justified true belief to count as knowledge, there must be a link or dependency between the belief and the state of the external world. Usually this is understood to be a causal link.
Such causation, to the extent that it is "outside" the mind, would count as an external, knowledge-yielding condition. Internalists, on the other hand, assert that all knowledge-yielding conditions are within the psychological states of those who gain knowledge. He wrote that, because the only method by which we perceive the external world is through our senses, and that, because the senses are not infallible, we should not consider our concept of knowledge infallible. The only way to find anything that could be described as "indubitably true", he advocates, would be to see things "clearly and distinctly".
However, this does not mean that man's ability to know is perfect. God gave man the ability to know but not omniscience. Descartes said that man must use his capacities for knowledge correctly and carefully through methodological doubt. The dictum "Cogito ergo sum" I think, therefore I am is also commonly associated with Descartes' theory. In his own methodological doubt—doubting everything he previously knew so he could start from a blank slate—the first thing that he could not logically bring himself to doubt was his own existence: The act of saying that one does not exist assumes that someone must be making the statement in the first place.
Descartes could doubt his senses, his body, and the world around him—but he could not deny his own existence, because he was able to doubt and must exist to manifest that doubt.
Even if some "evil genius" were deceiving him, he would have to exist to be deceived. This one sure point provided him with what he called his Archimedean point, in order to further develop his foundation for knowledge. Simply put, Descartes' epistemological justification depended on his indubitable belief in his own existence and his clear and distinct knowledge of God. We generally assume that knowledge is more valuable than mere true belief. If so, what is the explanation? A formulation of the value problem in epistemology first occurs in Plato 's Meno.
Socrates points out to Meno that a man who knew the way to Larissa could lead others there correctly.
But so, too, could a man who had true beliefs about how to get there, even if he had not gone there or had any knowledge of Larissa. Socrates says that it seems that both knowledge and true opinion can guide action. Meno then wonders why knowledge is valued more than true belief and why knowledge and true belief are different. Socrates responds that knowledge is more valuable than mere true belief because it is tethered or justified.
Justification, or working out the reason for a true belief, locks down true belief. The problem is to identify what if anything makes knowledge more valuable than mere true belief, or that makes knowledge more valuable than a more minimal conjunction of its components, such as justification, safety, sensitivity, statistical likelihood, and anti-Gettier conditions, on a particular analysis of knowledge that conceives of knowledge as divided into components to which knowledge-first epistemological theories, which posit knowledge as fundamental, are notable exceptions.
The value problem has been presented as an argument against epistemic reliabilism by philosophers including Linda Zagzebski , Wayne Riggs and Richard Swinburne. Zagzebski analogizes the value of knowledge to the value of espresso produced by an espresso maker: If the espresso tastes good, it makes no difference if it comes from an unreliable machine. She assumes that reliability in itself has no value or disvalue, but Goldman and Olsson disagree. They point out that Zagzebski's conclusion rests on the assumption of veritism: By analogy, having a reliable espresso maker that produced a good cup of espresso would be more valuable than having an unreliable one that luckily produced a good cup because the reliable one would more likely produce good future cups compared to the unreliable one.
The value problem is important to assessing the adequacy of theories of knowledge that conceive of knowledge as consisting of true belief and other components. According to Kvanvig , an adequate account of knowledge should resist counterexamples and allow an explanation of the value of knowledge over mere true belief. Should a theory of knowledge fail to do so, it would prove inadequate. One of the more influential responses to the problem is that knowledge is not particularly valuable and is not what ought to be the main focus of epistemology.
Instead, epistemologists ought to focus on other mental states, such as understanding. The nature of this distinction has been disputed by various philosophers; however, the terms may be roughly defined as follows:. A priori knowledge is a way of gaining knowledge without the need of experience.
In Bruce Russell's article "A Priori Justification and Knowledge"  he says that it is "knowledge based on a priori justification," 1 which relies on intuition and the nature of these intuitions.
The need for epistemology
A priori knowledge is often contrasted with posteriori knowledge, which is knowledge gained by experience. A way to look at the difference between the two is through an example. Bruce Russell gives two propositions in which the reader decides which one he believes more. All crows are birds. All crows are black. If you believe option A, then you are a priori justified in believing it because you don't have to see a crow to know it's a bird. If you believe in option B, then you are posteriori justified to believe it because you have seen many crows therefore knowing they are black.
He goes on to say that it doesn't matter if the statement is true or not, only that if you believe in one or the other that matters. The idea of a priori knowledge is that it is based on intuition or rational insights. Laurence BonJour says in his article "The Structure of Empirical Knowledge",  that a "rational insight is an immediate, non-inferential grasp, apprehension or 'seeing' that some proposition is necessarily true.
Evolutionary psychology takes a novel approach to the problem. It says that there is an innate predisposition for certain types of learning. The remainder is more like an exposed negative waiting to be dipped into a developer fluid" . Immanuel Kant , in his Critique of Pure Reason , drew a distinction between "analytic" and "synthetic" propositions.
He contended that some propositions are such that we can know they are true just by understanding their meaning. For example, consider, "My father's brother is my uncle. Philosophers call such propositions analytic". Synthetic propositions, on the other hand, have distinct subjects and predicates.
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An example would be, "My father's brother has black hair. The American philosopher Willard Van Orman Quine , in his Two Dogmas of Empiricism , famously challenged the distinction, arguing that the two have a blurry boundary. Some contemporary philosophers have offered more sustainable accounts of the distinction. Science is viewed as a refined, formalized, systematic, or institutionalized form of the pursuit and acquisition of empirical knowledge. As such, the philosophy of science may be viewed variously as an application or foundation of the philosophy of knowledge acquisition.
The regress problem is the problem of providing a complete logical foundation for human knowledge.