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Justified True Beliefs

September 15th, 2004 · No Comments

I’m sinking to ridiculous levels of pedantry here, but I think Brian Weatherson’s mistaken to say that (many of) the blogospheric memo-debunkers aren’t Gettier cases—instances of “justified true belief” that don’t count as knowledge because of some issue with the way the justification links up with the truth of the belief. The relevant belief was “these memos are bogus”—which it now seems to be mostly agreed is true. The justifications involved various reasons why documents that looked like the memos couldn’t have been produced in the ’70s. Some of those were wrong, but at least appeared to be supported by people claiming knowledge of the typewriters in use at the time. (I don’t know that all of these were wrong: did anyone rebut the automatic-grouping-of-letters point?) Obviously, you can quibble about the threshhold for “justified”, but if I have a question about 1973 typewriters, and a dozen people who worked in offices in 1973 say: “No, I did lots of typewriter work, and that feature didn’t come around until the advent of word processing,” I’ll count that as good enough prima facie evidence—it’s no lower a standard than is in play in most of the canonical Gettier examples.

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