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Does knowledge ought to be a true justified belief?

Saeed Tayseer Khunaizi
2011 / 5 / 13

Many philosophers have attempted to state necessary and sufficient conditions for someone knowing a given proposition. The attempts have often been made in a form resembles to the following:

A subject S knows that a proposition P is true, if and only if:

P is true
S believes that P is true, and
S is justified in believing that P is true

Knowledge can t be acquired without justification. You can t blindly believe anything by anyone and/or anyway offered to you for granted! One would be considered true believer only and only if logical reasoning is attached. Since childhood we want justification for everything. For example, if I am instructing a child that an 8-year old kid is prohibited for leaving home alone, the child would most probably ask me why is that, right? If I would not be able to clearly and explicitly justify my given answer to him, most probability he would semi-neglect me, or in another context, wouldn t believe what I am saying is a justified belief. Thus, what all we want to begin our argument is understand, knowledge should be justified in order to a believer loyally believe in something or someone.

Well, what is justification all about then? In its simplest meaning, it is a reason lies behind a belief. There must be a reason or purpose for a proposition, and the reason or purpose must be acceptable to any argument you make by trying to make sense of that particular situation. It often gets complicated when we begin to dig very deep on it. However, there is a problem with this idea. The problem is being that; it is fallacious to say that in order for all beliefs to be knowledge, they must always accommodate justification. Knowledge isn’t “black and white” to be treated as such. For there are some instances where the JTB (Justified true belief) theory applies without unjust discrimination, other instances when applied, resulted with too discriminatory.

People have all kinds of beliefs in what they conceive to be true. Examples of belief can range anywhere from simple beliefs, such as a child having beliefs about the Santa Claus; to more complicated beliefs such as a doctor’s beliefs about the practice of medicine. Although the child believed in the Santa Claus was justified in his belief based on trusting his parents, according to the JTB theory, his belief fails to be knowledge due to the absolute falsehood of the existence of a Santa Claus. What about the medical doctors who vigorously pursue all potential breakthroughs in their field? The vast amount of time they dedicate their practices in trial and error, trying past methods that the medical journals had deemed as helpful, only to find that they were no good; or trying new methods that have recently showed no benefits in some cases, but were giving positive results this time around. Such an answer can be brought upon the constant utilization of old and new methods that work while dismissing those which fail. According to the JTB theory, the medical doctors and professionals do not have any knowledge on the ailments they treat because they do not have any absolute truths as to what ought or ought not be done in regard to treating various health problems. So to accept the application of the JTB theory in the more complicated instances such as the medical professional, where there is no definitive answer to refute what they believe in, is to accept the idea that the doctors really do not know anything about their profession and therefore they have no knowledge.

Doctors certainly have knowledge in their profession. People fall sick and depend upon their doctors helping them in feeling better every day. There are always new revelations in medicine that fail to explain the ultimate truths involved with the treatment of various health issues, but still have positive results that may not cure but are more helpful in helping recovery rather than idly standing by in plain ignorance by succumbing to the reality. This being the case, it is important that we understand that knowledge as a development, something that is ongoing and is subject to trial and error. While some instances the JTB theory is applicable, such as the Santa Claus example, there are other instances where it is too discriminatory to apply such as the practice of medicine; as an example, it doesn’t take long for children to find out the truth about where the money under their pillow actually came from. The parents will tell the child that the money actually came from them. Therefore, the child’s old justified belief is false, making their previous perception lacks any knowledge.

However, there must be a gap between what we have just mentioned previously, and what we will be up to. in fact the distinction between these cases may not be always very clear, but in spite of that, it is useful to separate them from each other. Often the eliminate definition will be a matter of deciding where the greatest emphasis lies.

Edmund Gettier, an American philosopher, does not seem to get along with the idea that you ought to have justification beyond any doubt for something or someone to be known (He obviously backs the idea that doctors have clear justifications in their field of practice!) An instance of the Gettier case would be the following:
Robert owns an Audi. As long as I have known him, he has driven the same Audi, it is safe to assume that he owns one (Gettier believes). Now, let us say also my friend Carly is away on vacation, and I have no clue of her whereabouts. Someone told me that he probably in Ireland. I can conclude, randomly then, that Carly is in Ireland (Getteir believes). But how? I also believe that Carly could be in Germany. And it is still possibly that Carly is after all this time, simply in Rhode Island. Now, if I conclude that Robert owns an Audi, or Carly is in Ireland, I am justifying something that is not necessarily true. As it turns out, Carly is in fact in Germany, and the Audi that I was so sure belonged to Robert, actually belonged to his brother. However, short of the Cartesian justification, I have justified my belief because one part of the sentence is true. Surely though, knowing Carly s whereabouts is not knowledge.

Gettier assumes that these beliefs are justified, but I am not yet convinced. Was he justified in believing that Robert owns an Audi just because he saw him driving one? If so, What proofs back his claims? It was a good theory, a probable belief, but he had evidence to be conveniently sure. While we may have thought we had good evidence for the belief of the previous examples, we didn t. We accepted this as fact without investigating it adequately. Just as if somebody has thought he knew her daughter was raped, but he doesn t have sufficient evidence; he might be asked on a witness stand ``Are you sure? . The answer, I believe, is no. If, however, his response would be “yes, I am sure”, it sounds like what he ought to need is more than a justified true belief; he would need a correct justified true belief. Not only the belief, but the justification as well must be held. The justification must be logically sound. False and non-investigative justifications do not seem to satisfy the very basic requirements for knowledge.

The argument of the JTB theory is at itself a very dialectic and mysterious one. it’s very uneasy to assertively reveal the absolute truth of what basics form our knowledge of everyone and everything. Nevertheless, truth, justification, and belief each plays a major role in the determining of knowledge. But how much of each is necessary to have the very basic of knowledge, here lies the question?

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