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Old 04-11-13, 06:37 PM   #1
Tom Stormcrowe
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Philosophy Fun: A Gettier Problem: Are you a brain in a tank? (It'll pain the brain!)

In practical analysis, to believe and know requires 2 reconditions: Necessary and sufficient, to give a good account of what you are analyzing.

1) Can a person know that p is true if they believe that p is true?

2) Can a person know that p is true if they do not believe p is true?

3) Can a person think they know p if in fact, p is false?

4) Can a person reasonably think they know p if p is false?

5) Can a person know p if in fact p is false?

This brings us to a huge Epistemological problematic issue.

Imagine being the victim of a prank like this:

Imagine you wake up on a table after a big roaring drunk party, and see your friend on the next table. Surgeons are apparently removing his brain and hooking it up to a wire harness and suspending it in a nutrient tank. You have reliable evidence that you're next, so you protest that you don't want that, and that you aren't going to do it. The surgeon chuckles, and tells you relax, it had been done to you 3 months ago, and the entire 3 months previous were a computer generated illusion.

Is he lying to you? Do you know that that reality you've been experiencing is true or are you actually a brain in a tank?

Next, they tell you it was all a prank. Are they lying to you now, or were they before, and how would you determine the truth of either statement? What is belief, and what is knowledge?
. “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”- Fredrick Nietzsche

"We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." - Immanuel Kant
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Old 04-11-13, 08:08 PM   #2
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Not every day one runs into mention of Edmund Gettier in a place like this. I have met him, and he is an enormously nice guy. He is something of a legend in academic philosophy circles for having the highest ratio of impact on the field with the fewest number of pages published. That makes him my hero anyway.

So, the traditional position in philosophy is that knowledge requires meeting three conditions: the claim is believed, the claim is justified, and the claim is true. According to Gettier, examples like the one you mention indicate that a claim can be known even if it is not true. For myself, I never really understood the argument here: seems to me that in such cases the subject simply does not have sufficient justification and so its not known in the first place.

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Old 04-11-13, 08:33 PM   #3
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God said it.

I believe it.

That settles it.

Something like that?
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