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Goldmans Reliabilsm Essay

2176 words - 9 pages

“How do you know that you know the stuff you think you know?
Take away the option of answering, “I just do!” and what’s left is epistemology.”
(Cathcart ,T. & Klein, D. 2007)

The above joke highlights the concept of knowledge, but more specifically it raises the question of how do we know anything? Alvin I. Goldman has an attempt at forming a set of conditions that will help us decide what in fact we do know. The article is ‘What is justified belief?’ and tackles the very core of the question, what, if anything, is possible to know? There are however objections to his theory and they will be looked at as well.
The theory that Goldman comes up with is a theory that uses reliability of ...view middle of the document...


How do these 4 conditions fail, looking at each one separately there are clear areas in which these conditions do not uphold the initial two premises.
What does “p is indubitable for S” actually mean? According to Goldman ( 1979) it mean that S has no “grounds” for doubting p. This therefore breaks the first premise of the theory, as “grounds” is an epistemic term and not allowed. He does give another reason how this fails, where S is psychologically not able to doubt p, as in the religious fanatic not being able to doubt his religion, which are not justified beliefs.
When Goldman (1979) says ‘p is self-evident’ he is saying that ‘p is directly justified’ and this again does not meet the first premise of his theory, as justified is again, an epistemic term. This also can mean that “it is impossible to understand p without believing it’. Goldman (1979) says that if we understand the proposition then we will not be able to stop ourselves from believing it. This then according to 2, will result in no justified contingent beliefs.
Similarly as in 1 and 2, Goldman (1979) shows that “self presenting” fails to hold his first premise by using epistemic language. Goldman (1979) also splits this into two sections, Nomological beliefs (3N) and Logic beliefs (3L). A nomologicial belief is a belief that follows the general and physical laws. A situation when a belief fails to be nomological is with the example of a person who claims to be in a brain state B, however with the use of a EEG machine, we know he is not in that state, therefore his belief is not justified. An example of a logical belief, is when we are sleeping, we may believe we are awake, even though we could be asleep and dreaming. The belief that you are awake, does not need to be justified, as the truth of the belief, guarantees itself.
An incorrigible proposition is a proposition that cannot be easily changed, as in an incorrigible bad habit. Goldman also shows 2 cases where this proposition is not nomological or logic. Nomological, because, again, a person could believe they are in brain state B, but a very good EEG machine shows us the contrary. Goldman (1979) says any true maths or logic proposition would satisfy being ‘logical’, but this does not account for a belief that comes about due to wishful thinking (Goldman, A. 1979).
The reason these first four conditions fail is because in each case, there was an example of how it failed Goldman’s own restriction of what he would like to have in this theory. If we had to diagnose the problems, we find that our beliefs are causally caused or sustained on the inability to doubt our faith; because it is humanly impossible to stop ourselves believing certain propositions; by the fact we think we think we are in a brain state and lastly by wishful thinking. The reason why they failed is because the first four propositions do not restrict how beliefs can be caused (Goldman, A. 1979).
Goldman addresses the issues, but adding new conditions...

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