What is Knowledge?

That is not true. Knowledge is beliefs we have that are true, whether or not our evidence for them is sound.

This should be required reading for this thread: Epistemology (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

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You can’t object to a definition of a concept. It’s a definition, you either agree to define the concept that way or you don’t. I reject knowledge defined as “justified true belief”.

So your definition of knowledge is “true belief”. Define ‘true’.

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Have you heard of the Gettier cases? Please read this:

Knowing what is true is different from defining knowledge in a sensible way. You are putting forward the JTB (justifies true belief) view that is not ultimately coherent.

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No, I’m not. I reject JTB as the definition of knowledge. That’s why I defined knowledge as “belief justified by evidence”. Not JTB.

This rules out, by definition, proper basic beliefs as a type of knowledge. I suppose you can, that seems to be misguided. I’d be curious to see how you solve the pitfalls ahead.

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Truth is the problem, which is why I don’t require truth for knowledge. It seems to me that if truth is required for knowledge, then we can know nothing, because all reasoning has to rest on axioms we can’t demonstrate the truth of(then they wouldn’t be axioms). And so knowledge would be impossible. That’s as succinct as I can put it.

I’m okay with having ruled that out. I don’t see why it would be misguided. Can you elaborate?

The problem of other minds. Do others have minds or are they philosophical zombies? If they are philosophical zombies, we can do whatever we want to others. There is no basis for ethics. We can’t however establish true belief in other minds by evidence. This is not a toy problem. It is consequential.

We have a proper basic belief in other minds, but we can’t establish this belief with evidence.

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Knowledge and belief are quite distinct from one another

(I’m just disagreeing with everybody).

Yes, I disagree with SEP, too.

What’s a proper basic belief?

Of course they have minds.

My belief that there are other minds is based on evidence. I’ll agree that there isn’t a logical proof from foundations, but then I am not a foundationalist.

For the purposes of this discussion I’m going to ignore that this claim doesn’t follow from the premise. Even if everyone around me don’t have minds, it doesn’t follow that there is no basis for ethics.

We can’t however establish true belief in other minds by evidence.

True belief? No, we can’t establish that. But you can’t do that with a “properly basic belief” either. That’s just another word for an assumption you can’t demonstrate the truth of.

But the entirety of ethics already rests on that, an assumption. We can’t derive an ought from an is, we have to assume it. We don’t know that others have minds, we assume it.

This is another example of those things physicalists are scolded for by people who can’t solve the problem either. You really think people are fooled into thinking that the existence of other minds is a “truth” by having it called a “properly basic belief”?

We have a proper basic belief in other minds, but we can’t establish this belief with evidence.

Hence it isn’t knowledge, nor even is it known to be “true”. It’s an assumption.

Though it might not be. Everyone I know profess to have minds. Now the question is if that is more likely on the hypothesis that they actually do have minds, than if they don’t?

I think knowledge is a subset of belief. Some beliefs are held without evidence (beliefs in axioms, or things believed on faith), but beliefs held because of evidence are knowledge.

If the evidence is very weak, we might say we don’t really know it. I’d be fine with saying there is some cut-off where the evidence used to justify a belief is too weak to have the belief constitute knowledge.

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You’re confusing demonstrating that P is true and the proposition that P is true (similar to the confusion between moral ontology and moral epistemology). In these epistemology discussions we simply assume (for the sake of the discussion) that P is true. Otherwise this will just create confusion down the line.


Ah, testimony. Is it (ever) a valid source of knowledge: Testimony as a Source of Knowledge.


I don’t.

I don’t have beliefs in axioms. I find axioms useful, but they do not inspire belief. I can do ordinary arithmetic, based on the Peano axioms. And then I can switch to using mod 5 arithmetic (where 3+3=1). I do not change beliefs going from one to the other. I just change practices according to the context.


I don’t see any connection between that premise and that conclusion.

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Modular arithmetic can be written as regular arithmetic… Isn’t this more of a notation change if anything?
The issue is how a “context” can be interpreted/understood without basic axioms.
For example, if i believe that i am a mind in a jar and everything i experience is just an illusion, then i perceive the world very differently from if i believed differently.
Isn’t t this where axioms come in… in accepting what we are/reality is fundamentally?

Isn’t belief an entirely subjective phenomenon? And evidence can change from place to place. Think of a schizophrenic who has sufficient visual and auditory evidence to claim that all scientists he knows are actually reptilians in human skin suits. Why shouldn’t this qualify as “Knowledge”?
Isnt it “Truth” that differentiates between false beliefs that one thinks is supported by evidence vis a vis actual facts of reality.
Are you suggesting that knowledge can be decoupled from reality?

Well then I dont’ know what you mean by either knowledge or belief. To say, for example, that you know you drank coffee this morning is to say that you believe you drank coffee this morning for reasons that would make that belief also constitute a knowledge claim.

If you say you know you drank coffee and I ask how you know that, and you then give me the reasons as the explanation for who you claim to know it, then I really don’t see how you have not essentially conceded that you believe it for those reasons.

I some times get the impression that some atheists have an irrational aversion to the word belief, as if conceding that something is believed automatically entails that all beliefs are equally justified, or that belief is a matter of mere volition that does not take persuasion.

The fact that you don’t believe those axioms doesn’t mean you can’t or don’t believe any axioms. Of course this also depends on what you mean by belief.

Obviously I can’t tell you what you believe or how to use the words knowledge or belief, but my guess is when it comes down to it, you do what I described above. You claim to know that X because some justification, which is to say that you believe X because of the justification. And here the justification is what you invoke to make it a claim of knowledge.

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