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The

Gettier Problem
And Oooh! Shiny!
First by using Whedonesque logic to deconstruct issues with the Gettier Problem, we then attempt to use Moores Paradox to reconcile its objections.

The Gettier Problem


And Oooh! Shiny!

Resolving the Philosophical problem of Knowledge

By Michael J. Wright

I have so many contentions about the definition of knowledge by Plato that Ive already wasted an obscene amount of time formulating non-Gettier arguments that discredit it; I could readily make it my lifes work. And given how insulting and wrong it is Id be well motivated, but not well intentioned. So I will capitulate to the area of the assignment alone and save my other arguments for another time. The Gettier Problem has some issues of its own. Take this problem into consideration; Jack is looking for Y, but he observes X which at a distance has all the appearance of Y. But a cursory examination would identify that X is X and not Y. However, X is placed in direct line of site between Y and Jack. Thereby it cannot be said that Jack has knowledge of Y since he believes he has found Y, which is in truth X. There are however observable problems, and granted Im not an expert of Philosophy so feel free to correct me where I am wrong. The Presupposition Imperative: In problems such as these one should examine the relationship between Jack and Y. Clearly there is some sort of relationship, attachment, bond, call it what you will but there must be a reason, or causation for Jack to look for Y. I can think of no scenario in which Jack would be looking for Y with no personal or prerogative interest; such as Dad told me to look for it or Its my favorite Y, there is no evidence that I looked for it for no reason or I merely wanted to glance at its condition for no reason. The moment you add a because to any of these statements you have a statement of interest. And because I cannot find an explicit Philosophical term to describe this relationship, in honor of Firefly I hereby define Seeking Shiny as an interest or attraction between two entities that while their relationship cannot be not explicitly defined, hold as evidence that said entities have some relationship by virtue of unsaid attraction. Under this observation Gettier fails because there is no evidence that the relationship between Jack and Y are completely neutral, at some point Jack will seek Y and discover that X is not Y and continue looking till he finds Y. Gettier assumes Jack possesses false knowledge because at one time Jack believed X was Y. The first problem is that there is no such thing as false knowledge. I can pour water in my gas tank and claim I have false gas, and certainly my car will not run, but if I have filled the tank with water what I cannot claim is that the tank is not full. The same is true of knowledge, I can have knowledge of inferior quality or knowledge that is irrational but I cannot have false knowledge. The term False Knowledge presents an assumption, that which was believed as knowledge was in fact not knowledge, it was something else. If it was merely incorrect it is still knowledge, it is just incorrect knowledge. The something else has no definition of interaction upon the human mind, people who realize they are wrong do not burst into flames or drop into seizures and die of aneurisms, they simply alter their belief accordingly. Mankind spent a great deal of their existence on Earth believing that land to be flat, and Copernicus proved otherwise. I may come back to that. But I hope I have made my point, incorrect knowledge is still knowledge, just knowledge that requires correction. And that leads me to my second objection. Gettier assumes The Pepsi Challenge. Anyone remember that? A series of commercials where they would blindfold people and pour Pepsi in one unmarked cup and Coke into another, and the people (to my knowledge) universally chose the Pepsi cup. They were then allowed to take the blindfold off in order to see what they had chosen. Why do I call this a Pepsi Challenge? Lets look at the original

problem again, this time in a different light. Jack is looking for Y and he sees X, which he believes to be Y. X in this case is the blindfold; it is a device which prohibits the seeker from finding Shiny because X is also Shiny, but not Y. Now remember, the point of the Pepsi Challenge is to hide Y from Jack with X. Now here is the tricky part. If X is not removed from play, X becomes Y. Im probably getting back into Metaphysics, but the facts are if X hides Y because it resembles Y to a degree and Jack is never allowed the opportunity to know he has been duped, then to him X may as well be Y. An examination showing that X is not Y will only lead to further searching for Y, and a new belief that X was never Y in the first place. And that brings me to my third objection. Gettier assumes that knowledge is concrete, it cannot be changed. It completely ignores the Fuzzy Concept. A Fuzzy Concept is something in which the content, context, values, definitions, and location can vary according to context or conditions. Therefor if one can reasonably assume by nature that Y is an object which can be moved, and has similar attributes such that it can be confused with other variables, then Gettier falls apart entirely. Jack has a presupposition that Y is similar to X, and whether he initially believes X to be Y is an irrelevant point, because until Jack has met the conditions of justification that X is not Y he is never justified in believing that X is really Y in the first place. So Ive just pulled several philosophical models out of my hind quarters, I have to confess I have no idea what that means, either I clearly have no grasp of the material or Im a complete and total madman. But to the point of reconciling the Gettier problem (which I feel that even if I am not justified in refuting, certainly others are) to the long held definition of knowledge (that I do not agree with), in researching the issue as presented I feel that Goldmans Causal Theory has a sort of weak but valid point to it. Goldmans Causal Theory says that in addition to Justified True Belief, in order for the subject to be considered knowledge the individual holding the belief must be able to reconstruct the causal chain of evidence that makes the subject true in a logical and reasonable manner. The weakness of this argument however lies in the individuals ability to determine if the causal chain is appropriate or inappropriate reasoning. Now I have to confess, Ive been overthinking this issue for days so pardon me when I say I have absolutely no idea how I came up with this. I believe the solution to the Gettier problem lies in Moores Paradox. What in the world is that? you ask. That is a really good question, somehow I was reading about it and it just makes logical sense to me. Moores Paradox concerns the putative (or generally accepted) absurdity in asserting a first-person present-tense sentence that can be modeled in the fashion of P, therefore I do not believe P. where both P and the lack of belief in P can be demonstrated as both justifiably true. The sentence may go as such; It is raining, but I do not believe it is raining. Or I believe that red is a beautiful color, and I was born without eyes. Or one for Liberty, Dr. Towns has written a large library of theological material, but I do not believe that he is a person but an impressively engineered hologram. At first glance each of these sound absurd, and in fact they are. However upon examination you will find each sentence is constructed of two parts, a solid statement of truth followed by a genuine belief in the

exact opposite. Both components of the sentence are contradictory and yet together you have an actual truth statement, so long as the belief part of the sentence is genuine. And this is how it works when applied to Gettier. Consider this problem: Bill owns a ranch and is particularly concerned about his cow Betsy who is pregnant and will go into labor soon, so he wants to keep an eye on her. From the window of his cabin he looks out to see what he perceives to be the clear form of Betsy behind some brush and trees, so he believes she is still nearby. In the meantime he sends his ranch hand Patrick out to work on a tractor that broke down the other day. When Patrick arrives he finds Betsy sitting on the ground resting in the shade of the tractor, and a black and white quilt caught up in the branches of the bush. Now from the perspective of the Gettier Problem, we can infer these things: 1) Bill saw what he believed to be the form of Betsy behind the trees, therefore he had a justifiable belief that Betsy was still on the ranch and truly OK. 2) Patrick discovered that what Bill saw was in fact not Betsy. 3) Patrick found that Betsy was still on the ranch and OK. So according to Gettier Bills assumption met the conditions of being justified true belief, but not accurate knowledge. However looking at it from the perspective of Moores Paradox we can see how that is in fact not the case. 1) Patrick discovers Betsy is on the ranch and doing ok. 2) Patrick discovers there is some sort of white and black quilt caught up in the trees. 3) Bill witnesses what he perceives to be Betsy on the ranch and doing ok, and therefor formulates a belief that this is true. 4) While what Bill actually perceived was not true, the fact that he formulated a true belief reconciles along with Patricks discovery that what Bill has done is formulate true knowledge that Betsy is ok and on the ranch, regardless of whether or not the particulars of Bills belief was true. What can I say from all of this, I mean Ive really said a lot and quite honestly Im not well versed in philosophy so I have no doubt anyone can come along and pick out the holes in this argument. But what I believe I have demonstrated is that the formulation of true knowledge does not require accurate belief. And if anyone has any question that this has no bearing in real life, consider this story: Carl Barks was a Disney Illustrator and comic book writer who you could quite easily say created every original aspect of the TV show Duck Tales in comic form. What is so amazing about Carl Barks are his accidental contributions to science, one of which was recently featured on Mythbusters as they tried to raise a sunken boat by filling it with ping pong balls. A similar method had been employed by Danish inventor Karl Kroyer in raising the freighter Al Kuwait, which had been loaded with 5,000 sheep and sank in the waters of Kuwaits drinking supply. Kroyer was quite perturbed to learn he could not patent the idea as it had been illustrated by Barks in a Donald Duck comic written 15 years beforehand.

As if that was not enough, in 1964 Disney received a letter from Joseph B. Lambert of the California Institute of Technology informing them that an article in the New York Academic Press entitled The Spin States of Carbenes would include a reference to a comic Barks wrote 20 years before. Now Carl Barks had no scientific or chemical background, but in this comic he describes Donald Duck as being hit on the head and given this idea of a new substance. Barks, knowing nothing of chemistry not only detailed the particle but predicted its interactions with other substances. In real life what Barks had described was discovered 20 years later to be Methylene, a carbondihydrogen atom that would go on to be used in a number of ways industrial processes, a degreaser, and by strange coincidence, a fairly common drug we now know as Ritalin. How odd is it that a man with no scientific training or understanding of chemistry and wrote cartoons about a duck that no one could understand would accidentally discover the substance that would help millions of kids with the same problem. What sort of Philosophy do you call that? Blessings Michael Wright