Saturday, September 13, 2008

A (very) basic account of knowledge

The traditional concept of knowledge is a justified true belief.

Let's take an example. Suppose the Cubs win the World Series this year. A lot of fans are going to come out and say that they knew at the beginning of the season this would be the year the Cubs win the series.

First, the Cubs have to win the series in order for someone to know that the Cubs won the series. If the Angels win the series, no one can know that the Cubs won it.

Second, the person has to believe it. So someone who says he knew the Cubs would win would have to believe that the Cubs would win. Someone who was picking the Diamondbacks would not qualify as someone who knew that the Cubs would win.

Third, a person has to be justified in believing it. So the mere fact that one is a die-hard, incurably optimistic Cubs fan, who have predicted victory for the last 70 seasons would not qualify as someone who knew that the Cubs would win the series.

Some philosophers have posed problems with this definition (google the word Gettier if you want to know about that) but this is a fair enough rough idea of what knowledge is.


havoc said...

Dr. Reppert, I would like an overview on competing theories of 'truth.' I subscribe to the "correspondence theory of truth," but I know that not all people have/do.

I know many Christians (and I am a Christian) who hold some kind of belief-based theory of truth, "I know it's true because I believe it."

Timothy said...

"I know it's true because I believe it."

Wouldn't this lead to some type of self-defeating relativism? Are there any well-known Christians who accept such a theory of truth?

Anonymous said...

A very good book presenting different views of truth is Wolfgang Kunne's "Conceptions of Truth".

You can find a review of the book here

Anonymous said...

A very basic account of knowledge is not the same as a very basic account of a claim to knowledge.
You appear to be focusing on the latter.