Thursday, July 6, 2017

Gettier & Reliabilism - Zagzebski

(Originally written December 5, 2006)

A person is praiseworthy (justified) for doing an act (having a belief) if it is what a virtuous person probably would do (or believe).

A right act is what a person with phronesis might do. A wrong act is what a person with phronesis would likely not do.

A moral duty is what a person with phronesis would do in specific circumstances.

A justified belief is what a person motivated by intellectual virtue, possessing understanding, might believe.

An unjustified belief is what a person motivated by intellectual virtue, possessing understanding, would not believe.

Epistemic duty is what the person who is motivated by intellectual virtue and possesses understanding would believe in a specific situation.

"A belief is an epistemic duty (strong sense) in certain circumstances if and only if it is unjustified not to believe it... A belief is an epistemic duty (weak sense) in certain circumstances if and only if it is unjustified to disbelieve it" (Zagzebski, 242).

"An act is a moral duty (strong sense) in certain circumstances if and only if it is wrong not to do it. An act is a moral duty (weak sense) in certain circumstances if and only if it is wrong to choose to reject it" (Zagzebski, 243).

A justified belief is what some one with phronesis might believe.

An unjustified belief is what someone with phronesis would not believe.

A belief is a duty when a person with phronesis would believe.

6.2 Acts of Virtue

An act is an act of virtue if it rises out of the motivational component of the virtue, it is something a person with that virtue would do, and it is successful in bringing the end of that specific virtue to fruition.

Part III - The nature of knowledge

2.1 The definition

An act of intellectual virtue is an act that arises out of the motivational component of that virtue, is something a person with that virtue would probably do in the circumstances, is successful in achieving the ends of that virtue, and causes the agent to acquire a true belief (cognitive contact with reality)

Definition 1 of knowledge: "Knowledge is a state of cognitive contact with reality arising out of acts of intellectual virtue" (Zagzebski, 270).

Definition 2 of knowledge: "Knowledge is a state of true belief arising out of acts of intellectual virtue" (Zagzebski, 271).

Definition 3 of knowledge: "Knowledge is a state of belief arising out of acts of intellectual virtue" (Zagzebski, 271).

Gettier Problems:

The problem for justified true belief theories

"Gettier problems arise when it is only by chance that a justified true belief is true" (Zagzebski, 283).

The Gettier problem has forced knowledge to see one of two things:
1) Justified true belief is not sufficient for knowledge and must have an extra component to make it sufficient
2) Justification must be reconciled to make it sufficient

Zagzebski sees both choices as inadequate because neither can escape the Gettier problem.

Internalism and externalism both suffer from the Gettier problem.

Smith owns a Ford or Brown is in Barcelona is an example of a Gettier problem when there is no problem internally, but something causes a false belief, but somehow it is still true.

Reliablism also faces the Getteir problem, in spite of what Alvin Plantinga states.

True beliefs can arise accidentally and thus we have Gettier problems.

Plantinga argues that knowledge is had when the belief warrants it.

Warranty admits degrees, but either the warrant is or is not sufficient for knowledge.

Undefeatable justified belief is immune to Gettier problems because undefeatability entails truth.

Strong defensibility conditions however threaten the assumption of independence of the justification condition and the truth condition for knowledge.

Truth conditions for knowledge must be entailed by the other conditions.

Nearly every contemporary theory of knowledge analyzes knowledge as true belief that is justified or warranted.

3.2 Resolving Gettier problems in a virtue theory

Zagzebski states that there are moral analogues of the Gettier problem. She says that a moral act can be performed but it not be virtuous it is moral luck, just like Gettier justified true beef's are epistemic luck.

"Gettier problems in virtue epistemology can be resolved by an analogous move" (Zagzebski, 296).

In Gettier cases the truth is reached by accident. In moral luck cases the right act is done by accident.

"Gettier problems can be avoided if we utilize the concept of an act of intellectual virtue" (Zagzebski, 297).

Acts of intellectual virtues are strictly analogous to acts of moral virtue.

Acts of moral virtue are strongly right in a moral sense; acts of intellectual virtue are strongly justified.

The definition, "knowledge is a state of cognitive contact with reality arising out of acts of intellectual virtue" is immune to Gettier problems.

4. Reliablisim

Zagzebski calls her theory of knowledge a combination of externalist and internalist combinations.

Laurence BonJour would call Zagzebski's theory an externalist one. BonJour calls any theory externalism when some of the justifying factors are external to the agent.

Zagzebski claims that her hybrid theory sets it apart from more radical externalist theories like Plantinga's reliablist proper function theory.

Objections to Reliablism

Purely externalist theories imply that the only thing valuable in an instance of knowledge is the value of the truth that is acquired.

Reliablism does not give sufficient conditions for knowing.

Knowledge has more value than true belief.

The value must lie in something in addition to the value of truth and in addition to the reliable mechanism for acquiring true belief.

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