Knowledge and Reality A

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					Knowledge and
Reality A
Lecture One: Introduction
Today’s Lecture
 General Course Information
 Coursepack
 What is a conceptual analysis?
 What is a counterexample?
 What is knowledge?
Course Information
   Module convenor: Nikk Effingham
   Office number: 114
   Email: N.Effingham@bham.ac.uk
   Office hours: Monday 2-3; Thursdays 2-3.
   Web Resource: www.nikkeffingham.com/teaching.html
    plus WebCT
   Your TA is either:
       Naomi Thompson or
       Kirk Surgener
   Assessment is 50% by essay and 50% by exam.
   You must read the course document.
Reading
 You’ll need Pritchard’s
  What is This Thing Called
  Knowledge.
 Plus the coursepack.
 Plus other (downloadable)
  articles.
Learning Methods
 You are committed to 100 hours on this
  module.
 15 hours of lectures/seminars.
 15 hours writing up notes for
  lectures/seminars.
 6 hours per seminar preparing for them.
 Essay/Exam prep is 20 hours each.
Seminar Preparation
   ALL students MUST prepare for their seminars.
   ALL students must come to the seminar with
    answers to the seminar questions.
   WRITTEN answers.
   One side of typed A4, or equivalent.
   You WILL be kicked out if you fail to do this, or
    bring some miserable excuse of ‘yes and no’s’
    written next to the questions.
   You MUST bring the reading with you.
Learning Skills
 This module is an introduction to
  epistemology – the study of knowledge.
 However, what is less important is the
  information you will learn.
 Rather, it is the skills that an
  undergraduate arts student must acquire
  which are important.
Learning Skills
   We’ll concentrate on skills by introducing a topic
    today and next week (Gettier on knowledge),
    and using that topic as an example throughout
    the first half of the course.
   So you’ll have a chance to see an example of
    how to research that topic, how to write an essay
    on it etc.
   Whilst the topic you’ll need to be researching
    and writing on comes in week 3.
Learning Skills
   What kind of skills must you acquire?
   During this year you must:
       Learn how to research undergraduate essays and exam
        answers.
       Learn how to discuss material critically, and debate the issues
        raised.
       Learn how to present your arguments (not your opinions!)
        clearly in the form of an essay/exam answer.
   If you learn these things, you have succeeded on this
    module.
   If you do not learn these things, you must if you want to
    progress through your degree successfully.
Learning Skills
   Notice the emphasis on arguments not opinions.
   You do not earn marks for reciting what people have
    said.
   You do not earn marks for agreeing with them.
   You do not earn marks for stating your opinion on
    issues.
   We do not care about your opinion.
   A philosopher doesn’t care about anyone’s opinion
Learning Skills
   What a philosopher cares about are the reasons
    to accept that opinion, and whether they are good
    reasons or not.
   They care about the arguments that you one can
    give for a particular point.
   No position we study is obvious (if it were, why
    would we study it?) so every position is open to
    criticism.
   So philosophers also care about the
    counterarguments against such criticism.
   If you are to succeed, you must get used to
    offering arguments, acknowledging criticisms and
    giving counterarguments against such criticism.
What is Epistemology?
 Epistemology is the study of knowledge.
 What do you know?
 How do you know it?
 What should you know?
 What can’t you know?
What is Epistemology?
   This course concentrates on how we know things.
   We start by looking at general problems with knowledge.
       What is knowledge? What is justification?
       The former will be used for example purposes.
   We will also spend some time looking, specifically, at
    writing and researching philosophy.
   The second half of the course then looks at specific
    areas of knowledge.
       How rational thinking can lead to paradox; the problems of
        inductive knowledge; whether we can we have a priori
        knowledge; whether we can know anything at all.
Conceptual Analysis
 For the next two weeks we will be looking
  to give a conceptual analysis of
  knowledge.
 What is conceptual analysis?
 It is, funnily enough, the analysing of
  concepts and what they involve.
Conceptual Analysis
   For instance, we could analyse what it is to be a chair.
   Is it something you sit on?
   Well, that’s not all there is to being a chair.
   Counterexample: A horse.
   Perhaps it has to have been designed by someone?
   Counterexample: The top of the Empire State Building.
   Perhaps it has to have been designed by someone with
    the intention for people to sit on it.
   Counterexample: The bad carpenter’s table.
Conceptual Analysis
   This could go on.
   At each point we are giving the conditions under
    which something would be a chair.
   We are asking what is necessary for it to be a
    chair, and what is sufficient for being a chair.
   Thus we end up with the necessary and
    sufficient conditions for an object satisfying a
    certain concept.
   That’s what a conceptual analysis is.
Conceptual Analysis
 Here’s another example.
 What is it for something to be alive?
 Go back to GCSE biology!
 The seven life processes:
     Movement,   Reproduction, Sensitivity,
     Nutrition, Excretion, Respiration, Growth.
Conceptual Analysis
 But this is all wrong.
 These things aren’t necessary for life.
 Counterexample: Paralysed individuals.
 Counterexample: Vasectomies.
Conceptual Analysis
   Nor are they sufficient.
   Consider televisions.
   They are sensitive to their surroundings (the remote
    control).
   They respire, excrete and need nutrition.
   They grow (mine’s grown a freeview box and an XBOX
    360).
   TV’s reproduce (there used to be few, now there are
    many, although they reproduce parasitically).
   They move (again, given the use of a parasitic host).
Conceptual Analysis
   We can do this all day, for all kinds of concepts.
   Some are more interesting than others.
   Philosophers care little about analysing the
    concept of chair.
   But they care a lot about analysing concepts like
    what it is to be good, what it is to be just, what
    artworks are, what it is to be free
   And what it is to know something.
Conceptual Analysis
 Notice how a conceptual analysis takes
  place.
 We suggest an analysis (something is
  chair if and only if you sit on it)
  Then provide counterexamples (the horse)
  Then we continue in this vein until we hit
  on something better.
Conceptual Analysis of Knowledge
   So what about knowing things?
   There are different types of knowing.
   You might know how to swim, drive, or play
    Halo.
   You might know David Beckham, the Queen or
    Bill down the road.
   Or you might know that 2+2=4, or that the
    economy is in trouble or that the successor to
    Ghenghis Khan was Ogedei Khan.
Conceptual Analysis of Knowledge

 It’s this last type that we are concerned
  with.
 This course does not deal with knowing
  people, or knowing certain skills.
 It deals with knowing that things are the
  case.
 This is called propositional knowledge.
Conceptual Analysis of Knowledge

   So here is a list of propositions:
    London is the capital of England.
    2+2=4
    2+2=76
    The square root of 1,254,647,241 is 35,421
    You can see the Wall of China from space.
    Water goes down the plug hole anti-clockwise in one
    hemisphere and clockwise in the other.
Conceptual Analysis of Knowledge

   So here is a list of propositions:
    London is the capital of England.
    2+2=4
    2+2=76
    The square root of 1,254,647,241 is 35,421
    You can see the Wall of China from space.
    Water goes down the plug hole anti-clockwise in one
    hemisphere and clockwise in the other.
Conceptual Analysis of Knowledge

   So here is a list of propositions:
    London is the capital of England.
    2+2=4
    2+2=76
    The square root of 1,254,647,241 is 35,421
    You can see the Wall of China from space.
    Water goes down the plug hole anti-clockwise in one
    hemisphere and clockwise in the other.
Conceptual Analysis of Knowledge

   So here is a list of propositions:
    London is the capital of England.
    2+2=4
    2+2=76
    The square root of 1,254,647,241 is 35,421
    You can see the Wall of China from space.
    Water goes down the plug hole anti-clockwise in one
    hemisphere and clockwise in the other.
Conceptual Analysis of Knowledge

   So here is a list of propositions:
    London is the capital of England.
    2+2=4
    2+2=76
    The square root of 1,254,647,241 is 35,421
    You can see the Wall of China from space.
    Water goes down the plug hole anti-clockwise in one
    hemisphere and clockwise in the other.
Conceptual Analysis of Knowledge

 This last two examples are telling.
 To know something, it is not enough that it
  is true. You must believe it to be true.
 To know something, you must not only
  believe it to be true, it must be true.
 That’s the difference between knowing
  something and simply believing it.
Conceptual Analysis of Knowledge

 You know something if and only if (i) you
  believe it and (ii) it’s true.
 Time for some terminology.
 We can abbreviate ‘if and only if’ as ‘iff’.
 This is very common in philosophy.
Conceptual Analysis of Knowledge

 You know something if and only if (i) you
  believe it and (ii) it’s true.
 But this isn’t a correct conceptual analysis.
 There are counterexamples.
 I’ll leave you for a minute to think of one.
Conceptual Analysis of Knowledge

 Imagine John McClane has a gut instinct
  that the suspect committed the crime.
 Imagine the suspect did commit the crime.
 Still, without evidence or proof, even
  though he believes something true John
  doesn’t know it to be true.
Conceptual Analysis of Knowledge

 What John needs is justification that he
  knows it.
 If he saw a CCTV camera of the suspect
  committing the crime that would be
  justification.
Conceptual Analysis of Knowledge

   So it’s not enough for you just to believe that the
    square root of 1,254,647,241 is 35,421 for you
    to know it.
   You have to be justified in that belief.
   For instance, by using a calculator or possessing
    excellent skills in mental arithmetic.
   Or taking my word…
The Tripartite Theory of Knowledge

 So we end up with the following analysis:
 Agent S knows that p iff
     (i) p is true
     (ii) S believes that p is true.
     (iii) S is justified in believing that p is true.
Next lecture
 Persuasive as this analysis is, it falls foul
  of famous counterexamples.
 Next lecture we will look at these Gettier
  countexamples.

				
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posted:9/14/2012
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