Linda Zagzebski: A Virtue Based Definition Of Knowledge

1211 words - 5 pages

The philosopher, Linda Zagzebski, offers a virtue based definition of knowledge. She arrives at this definition by presenting numerous accounts of knowledge definitions that fail, explore why they fail, then shows how her theory satisfies knowledge criteria.
Zagzebski defines knowledge by expressing the relationship between the subject and the truth proposition. A truth claim becomes knowledge when your state of belief makes cognitive contact with reality. What it is to know that you understand something is different from having a relationship with something. Propositional knowledge, that can be known or believed, is her focus due to simplicity. The criteria required for belief is to have a thought, followed by augmentation with experience. The minimal criteria for a definition of knowledge must incorporate two types of “good”; a moral and an ethical. These truths are implemented to develop the foundation on which Zagzebski later builds her definition.
How we approach the question of knowledge is pivotal. If the definition of knowledge is a necessary truth, then we should aim for a real definition for theoretical and practical knowledge. Methodology examines the purpose for the definition and how we arrived to it. The reader is now aware of the various ways to dissect what knowledge is. This entails the possibility of knowledge being a set of truths; from which it follows that one cannot possibly give a single definition. The definition given must therefore satisfy certain desiderata , while being strong enough to demonstrate clarity without losing the reader. If we base our definition on every counter-example that disproves our original definition then it becomes ad hoc. This is the case for our current definition of knowledge; therefore the method for attaining the definition must be addressed.
The contextual and logical problem of knowledge being a justified true belief (JTB) is unpackaged. It shows the gap between truth and the component of knowledge. This is demonstrated with the Gettier example. Despite Howard-Synders’ attempt to correct the accidental knowledge by offering the non-accidental clause, we still arrive to a false belief being true. The definition must satisfy the condition of being achieved noncontingent on counter-examples for future Gettier defeaters, but must intrinsically be tied to the cognitive faculties used to obtain the definition. The JTB method that the Gettier case attacked should be altered to do so. For a definition of knowledge to be good, it must satisfy two conditions; it must lead to the truth, and it must do so not accidently.
The definition of knowledge proposed is contingent upon who is asking. This prioritizes the essential characteristics offered in the definition. The presupposition is that the definition of must be true for it to be good. It follows that the property of a belief and/or the justification of it cannot make it true. Properties are determinants of the truth...

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