In this Wireless Philosophy video, Geoff Pynn (Northern Illinois) explains epistemic contextualism, which says that the word “know” is a context-sensitive term. Geoff describes how contextualists claim to dissolve the problem of radical skepticism, and discusses the argument for contextualism from our ordinary linguistic usage.
People tend to value knowledge; it’s better to know something than just to believe it, even if your belief is correct by pure luck. But why? What’s so great about knowledge? In this Wireless Philosophy video, Jeremy Fantl (University of Calgary) explains the so-called “Meno problem” – the problem of explaining why knowledge is distinctively valuable.
Everybody has false beliefs, including you. But that means everyone's beliefs are self-contradictory. If we wrote down everything you believe in a book, we'd have to include one more statement in the book's preface: "some of the statements in this book are false". In this Wireless Philosophy video, Jonathan Weisberg (University of Toronto) explains the infamous "Paradox of the Preface", and what it might teach us about belief, reason, and logic.
In this Wireless Philosophy video, Geoff Pynn (Northern Illinois) introduces virtue epistemology, an approach to epistemology that takes intellectual virtue as the central concept in discussions of theory of knowledge. Along the way, he shows how virtue epistemology can provides interesting solutions to some of the problems that we've encountered so far in the series.
Common sense takes for granted that we can typically just see physical objects without further hindrance. In this Wireless Philosophy video, Eugen Fischer (University of East Anglia) presents the ‘argument from hallucination’ that questions common sense: Together with parallel arguments, it appears to show that we are cut off from any physical objects around us by a veil of immaterial perceptions.
After many failed attempts to construct an analysis of knowledge, some philosophers began to wonder whether knowledge was resistant to analysis, and why that might be so. In this Wireless Philosophy video, Jennifer Nagel (University of Toronto) looks at the reasons why philosophers like Linda Zagzebski have thought that knowledge can’t be reductively analyzed, and explores the “Knowledge First” approach of Timothy Williamson.
Problems for the causal theory of knowledge led epistemologists to propose that knowledge is a matter of tracking the truth. Fred Dretske and Robert Nozick developed this idea using counterfactual conditions. In this Wireless Philosophy video, Geoff Pynn (Northern Illinois University) examines the tracking idea, consider how it improves on the causal theory, and then discuss some well known objections to the theories advanced by Dretske and Nozick.
Is knowledge a matter of being causally connected to the world in the right way? In this Wireless Philosophy video, Jennifer Nagel (University of Toronto) examines the causal theory of knowledge proposed by Alvin Goldman in 1967, and then discusses the problems with the causal theory that led Goldman to formulate his influential reliabilist theory of knowledge.
If we can’t analyze knowledge simply as justified true belief, can we add one more ingredient to produce a successful analysis? In this Wireless Philosophy video, Jennifer Nagel examines two ‘extra ingredient’ analyses of knowledge: Michael Clark’s ‘no false lemma’ analysis, and the fancier ‘no undefeated defeaters’ analysis of Keith Lehrer and Thomas Paxson.
Is knowledge the same as justified true belief? In this Wireless Philosophy video, Jennifer Nagel (University of Toronto) discusses a Gettier case, a scenario in which someone has justified true belief but not knowledge. We’ll look at a Gettier case from Edmund Gettier’s famous 1963 paper on this topic, and a structurally similar case from 8th century Classical Indian philosophy.
How do contemporary philosophers respond to the threat of skepticism? In this Wireless Philosophy video, Jennifer Nagel (University of Toronto) reviews the semantic (or meaning-based) theories of Hilary Putnam and David Chalmers, according to which skepticism either self-destructs, or isn’t as scary as you might think. She then examines the defensive approach of Timothy Williamson, an approach whose goal is not to convert you from being a skeptic back into believing in knowledge, but rather to protect you from becoming a skeptic in the first place.
In this Wireless Philosophy video, Jennifer Nagel (University of Toronto) looks at three historically influential responses to the challenge of skepticism. We start with René Descartes’s efforts to prove that God would not let us be chronically deceived. Next, we examine Bertrand Russell’s efforts to disprove the skeptic through a strategy called ‘inference to the best explanation’, and we finish with G. E. Moore’s common sense approach.
Is knowledge humanly possible? In this video, Jennifer Nagel (University of Toronto) looks at skeptical arguments, starting with Ancient Greek and Chinese philosophy, and moving forward into contemporary brain-in-a-vat scenarios. We’ll review a variety of reasons to worry that knowledge might be impossible, and we’ll examine the difference between global and local forms of skepticism.
In this video, Jennifer Nagel (University of Toronto) launches our Theory of Knowledge series. We look at the line between knowing and just believing something, focusing on factors like truth and confidence.
In this video, Sinan Dogramaci (The University of Texas at Austin) explains the puzzle of grue. He discusses how this puzzle undercut the attempt to formally develop inductive logic, the logic of probabilistic support.
In this video, Dr Eugen Fischer (UEA) presents the ‘argument from illusion’. This argument appears to refute our common-sense conception of perception (seeing, hearing, etc.). Together with parallel arguments, it raises the problem of perception that has been a lynch-pin of Western philosophy, since the mid-18th century.
In this video, Michael Campbell introduces the Sleeping Beauty problem. This is a problem in formal epistemology about how to correctly assign probabilities to an odd scenario in which we flip a coin and, depending on the outcome, wake Sleeping Beauty up according to two different patterns. We’ll discover some very strange consequences for our beliefs as a result.
How do we know stuff about matters of fact that we have yet to observe? For example, how do I know that the sun will rise tomorrow? A natural answer is that we have this knowledge through induction: I know the sun will rise tomorrow, because it has risen every day in the past. Now, the philosopher David Hume recognized that this inductive reasoning assumes that the future will resemble the past. Why though think that this assumption is true? How do we know that the future will resemble the past? This question is the starting point for Hume's skeptical argument against induction (and his skeptical solution), which Daniel Greco lays out in detail in this video.