Why Causal Connections Do Not Solve The Gettier Problem

1054 words - 5 pages

The purpose of this paper is to show that Goldman's causal theory of knowledge does not solve the Gettier problem. First, I will reiterate the Gettier problem. Second, I will show how Goldman's theory attempts to solve the Gettier problem. Next, I will show how over determination points out a major flaw for Goldman's theory. Finally, I will demonstrate that Goldman's theory does not work if the world we live in is not one of absolute truth and void of deception.

First, when looking at the causal chain theory it is imperative that we understand the basis of what it is trying to do which is to attempt to solve The Gettier problem. So, in order to continue in the building of my argument I will briefly cover what said problem was in an effort to show how the causal theory of knowledge fails to solve the problem that Gettier proposed. In brief: the Gettier problem pointed out that knowledge requires more than a true justified belief. An example that Gettier provides is one where a man: Smith, is told by a potential employer that the man that will be getting the job has ten coins in his pocket, Smith then is justified in believing that Johnson: another man who interviewed for the same position, will be the one getting the job as Smith knows without a doubt that Johnson has 10 coins in his pocket. However Smith ends up getting the job as he unknowingly also had ten coins in his pocket. Smith was justified in believing that the man that has ten coins in his pocket will be getting the job, however we cannot say that Smith truly had knowledge based on this account because he wrongly assumed that Johnson would be getting the job. Hence Gettier said that there must be more to knowledge than true justified beliefs. (add citations and direct quotes from gettier, one or two)

Next, I will show what Goldman proposed to solve the Gettier problem so that I could argue against it later in the paper. Goldman's solution to the Gettier problem fell on the idea that what was missing from the equation of knowledge was a causal chain of connections. Goldman then provided us with two basic patterns in which he attempted to prove that a causal chain of connections would solve the Gettier problem. The first of the two patterns paid focus to perceptual knowledge, knowledge through memory, knowledge through inference, and knowledge through testimony. When one examines Goldman's paper, they see that he divides these four subsections up and provides decent arguments for each one of them.

For perception, Goldman creates a simple example of a man perceiving that there is a vase in front of him claiming: "A necessary condition of S's seeing that there is a vase in front of him is that there be a certain causal connection between the presence of the vase and S believing it present." which Goldman briefly explains, but does not go into too much detail as he...

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