I begin with the ‘grounds clause’ and then expand on whether the two clauses satisfy a proper definition of knowledge in light of the justificationist program.
Archive for August, 2011|Monthly archive page
Take the term ‘justified’ as one of the following:
- S adopts a belief in an epistemically responsible manner (call this the ‘responsibility clause’).
- A relationship between the proposition believed and the grounds on which it is believed by S (call this the ‘grounds clause’).
As I will show, both clauses are needed in a plausible account of knowledge. The justification clause in the traditional doctrine that knowledge equals justified true belief must have these two components (1, 2). Furthermore, if 1 and 2 are satisfied, then the belief and truth clauses are reducible to the grounds and responsibility clauses — they will be necessarily believed and be true. The first part of this two-parter will show that the responsibility clause is not sufficient for a justificationist account of knowledge.
Wesley Salmon objects to Popper’s theory of knowledge on the grounds that, contrary to its stated rejection of a principle of induction, in order to explain how one can rationally decide between competing unfalsified theories, it requires the adoption of a principle of induction. The advice to an applied scientist or engineer to act as if the best-tested theories are probably true and the untested theories are probably false, though no doubt excellent advice, does not have any claim to be dubbed ‘rational’ unless a pragmatic principle of induction is adopted.
If the applied scientist’s choice is guided by the best-tested scientific theories available to him, then it appears that he is assuming that what was successful in the past will remain successful in the future. This would be an assumption rejected by Popper, for it employs the principle of induction. However, if a scientist, following Popper’s theory of knowledge, renounces a principle of induction, then he is not allowed to say that ‘future unobserved events will resemble past observed events.’