Week 2
Fun metaphors
There is an elephant in the room.
Love is a battlefield.
Video killed the radio star.
You are the bee’s knees and the cat’s pajamas!
• TYPO: vocab #1, argument ad ignorantium, not agreement.
Apologies. Very different things.
• Quiz this Friday: content and vocab
• Readings: “Science’s Finest Hour” and “Uncertainty of
• Ishmael Beah piece: (turn in at end of period, please.)
– Knowledge Claim(s) (topics)
– Knowledge Issues (questions)
– Problems of Knowledge (holes in the certainty)
*Think about issues for which you have a passion. What are the
knowledge claims? Knowledge issues? Problems of knowledge?
New Blog Post
"Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance." -Confucius
"Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance." -George
Bernard Shaw
We've briefly talked about strengths and limitations in regards to the
epistemologies (Ways of knowing: sense perception, language, emotion, and
reason; Areas of knowing: sciences, maths, arts, history, ethics.) Discuss
where you see strengths and limitations in knowledge in one or more of these
areas. Which do you find yourself drawn to as having more certainty than
others? Personally, where are your strengths as a knower in these
epistemologies at this point in your life? How does knowledge in the different
areas or ways change over time?
Respond to the podcast, quotes, the questions, or a combination of these by
Saturday, February 2, 2013.)
Review: Problems of Knowledge
Certainty (doubt of)
Radical Doubt
Relativism/Moral Relativism
Common sense—assumption
Too skeptical, too judgmental
Gullibility—Gossip, Conspiracy theories, Mob
Four little questions
How is knowledge acquired?
How is knowledge presented?
How is knowledge evaluated?
How is knowledge passed on?
Create a visual metaphor to help us comprehend
your response to these questions.
Finish and present tomorrow.
Truth Tests
X is accepted as true
because it is…
• Logical
• Makes sense
• Fits into the system
• Rational
X is accepted as true
• You perceived
• You observed
• You saw it with your
own eyes.
• You check the equation
Sharks don’t
live in
rivers! Not
Truth tests
Sharks reported
in Clarkfork
The dog
is on the
Four kinds:
1. Empirical Statements
2. Analytical Statements
3. Value-Judgments
4. Metaphysical Statements
*See Handouts!
Gettier Problem
• Edmund Gettier—1963 Paper
• Repudiates a definition of knowledge as JTB.
• Two scenarios where the three criteria
(justification, truth, and belief) seemed to be
met, but where the majority of readers would
not have felt that the result was knowledge
due to the element of luck involved.
Smith has applied for a job, but, it is claimed, has a justified
belief that "Jones will get the job". He also has a justified
belief that "Jones has 10 coins in his pocket". Smith therefore
(justifiably) concludes (by the rule of the transitivity of
identity) that "the man who will get the job has 10 coins in his
In fact, Jones does not get the job. Instead, Smith does.
However, as it happens, Smith (unknowingly and by sheer
chance) also had 10 coins in his pocket. So his belief that "the
man who will get the job has 10 coins in his pocket" was
justified and true. But it does not appear to be knowledge.
Smith, it is claimed by the hidden interlocutor, has a
justified belief that "Jones owns a Ford". Smith therefore
(justifiably) concludes (by the rule of disjunction
introduction) that "Jones owns a Ford, or Brown is in
Barcelona", even though Smith has no knowledge
whatsoever about the location of Brown.
In fact, Jones does not own a Ford, but by sheer
coincidence, Brown really is in Barcelona. Again, Smith
had a belief that was true and justified, but not
Reuben Abel
The Man is the Measure
Abel's Nine Good Reasons for Knowledge
1.) I know that ice is cold because I feel the chill.
Sense perception is the evidence for our
knowledge about the world.
2.) I know that three plus two is five because I can prove
it. Logic is the basis of our analytic knowledge.
3.) I know that I should not kill an innocent, because my
intuition tells me so. Knowledge of right and wrong is
often based on such inner convictions of certainty.
4.) I know that I am tired because I feel it. Self-awareness
is the basis for knowing one's own "self-presenting"
states. One's wishes, feelings, thoughts and hopes, etc.,
seem to be self-evident.
5.) I know that I had pink rain boots when I was a child because I
remember it. Knowledge of the past is based on memory.
6.) I know that the atmosphere is composed of nitrogen, oxygen and a
small percent of other gases because my science teachers told me. We
rely on authority as a justification for some knowledge.
7.) I know that Jesus is real because everyone says so. Consensius
gentum, the theory that what everyone knows collectively, is true, is a
justification for knowledge.
8.) Cassandra knew that Troy would fall under the
Greeks because the gods revealed this to her.
Revelation as a justification for knowledge.
9.) I have faith in the goodness of human nature.
Faith is not knowledge, and faith cannot be relied
on as a reason for knowledge. *
*Abel says that belief is requisite for knowledge,
but not a guarantee for it.
Paradigm Shift: change from one way of thinking to
another. It's a revolution, a transformation, a sort of
1.a self-evident truth that requires no proof.
2. a universally accepted principle or rule.
3. Logic, Mathematics . a proposition that is
assumed without proof for the sake of studying the
consequences that follow from it.
1: the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another
2: abstract thought : speculation
3: the general or abstract principles of a body of fact, a science, or an art
4 : a belief, policy, or procedure proposed or followed as the basis of action (her
method is based on the theory that all children want to learn)
b : an ideal or hypothetical set of facts, principles, or circumstances —often used in
the phrase in theory (in theory, we have always advocated freedom for all)
5: a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered
to explain phenomena (the wave theory of light)
6a : a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigation b : an unproved
assumption : conjecture
Rational and Intuitive Knowledge
The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra
Rational: Experiences we have with objects and
events; intellectual; discriminates, divides,
compares, measures and categorizes. Buddhists call
this knowledge ‘relative’.
Rational knowledge is based on our “mental map”
of reality—how we’ve already made sense of many
abstract concepts and symbols (think about the
alphabet, or how words are lines of letters)
Problems of rational knowledge
There is no perfect map: in other words, we
only get close in our conceptual thinking—all
rational knowledge and its application is limited.
The nature of Knowledge
Truth, authority, paradigms, context,
acquaintance, know-how, wisdom,
information, justification, belief.
Strengths and Limitations
Sensory Perception
a. Limitations and strengths in
b. MY Limitations and strengths
in knowledge in each
Natural Science
Human Science

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