Gettier problem

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-P022-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved April 20, 2024, from

4. The role of false propositions

Solutions concerning the role of false propositions continue to intrigue researchers. Roderick Chisholm (1966) requires that when one knows that p, something makes p evident for one without making any falsehood evident for one – unless the proposition that p is a conjunction (for example, ‘Nogot is in the office and has presented e‘), in which case Chisholm also requires that there is something that makes any given conjunct evident for one without making any falsehood evident for one. But the physicist Millikan, who mistakenly accepted the false statement that the charge of the electron was a certain value, did at least know that the value was very, very close to the one that he picked. Anything that made the latter proposition evident for Millikan also made the former falsehood evident for him (Plantinga 1993a provides other counterexamples).

Another solution of the Gettier problem that concerns the exclusion of falsehoods requires that one’s believing that p be justified through one’s grasping enough of a ‘justification-explaining chain’ – a specific type of structure of justified propositions concerning what explains the justification of other members without including falsehoods at certain locations (see Shope 1981). The rationale for such a requirement is that fully satisfactory explanations avoid crucial reliance on falsehoods. We must acknowledge and analyse a broader category of knowing that p than the narrower, debate-oriented species of concern in a standard analysis, a genus that grants some knowledge to infants and perhaps even to some brutes. Then we may say that: (1) grasping a proposition within a justification-explaining chain, for example, the proposition that h, is having knowledge that h belonging to the broad category; and (2) the amount of the chain that one must grasp in this way in order to have knowledge that p belonging to the narrow category is an amount that suffices for having knowledge that p belonging to the broad category (see Shope forthcoming).

Citing this article:
Shope, Robert K.. The role of false propositions. Gettier problem, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-P022-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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