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Justified True Belief in the Face of Skepticism

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Justified True Belief in the Face of Skepticism

Knowledge, often considered as a concept integral to the understanding of human existence, is a concept rooted in security yet ambiguous in principle as no analysis has offered an explanation fully able to describe how knowledge comes to exist. Despite the difficulty incurred when trying to confirm all qualifiers that prove existence of knowledge, the Justified True Belief theory attempts to decipher these potential qualifiers. JTB, a theory somewhat basic in its analysis, makes the claim that in order for a true belief to take the shape of knowledge, an individual must have the justification necessary to prove the legitimacy of the true belief and therefore have the security required in order to claim knowingness. However, the JTB theory does not regard the potential fallibility of justification as a factor against the qualifying of knowledge, weakening its sufficiency. The qualifiers listed within the JTB theory lack the sufficiency necessary to prove knowingness, therefore not providing an analysis strong enough to support the existence of knowledge.

The JTB theory seeks to analyze how a subject (x) knows a certain thing (p) by attempting to prove that truth, belief and justification serve as a set of qualifiers sufficient for proving the existence of knowledge. With truth serving as the basis qualifier, the JTB theory claims that “(x) knows that (p) if, and only if, (p) is true.” The qualifier of truth, though considered by the JTB theory as a necessary quality, cannot stand alone sufficiently as truth is a relative concept. Due to the lack of sufficiency in truth alone, the JTB theory suggests the addition of another qualifier, belief, claiming that “(x) knows (p) if, and only if, (p) is true, and (x) believes that (p).” The qualifier of belief works to absolve the relativity of truth by centering an individual’s view of the world, eliminating the possibility of relative factors of truth (such as time) interfering. Within the JTB theory of analysis, justification serves as another noted qualifier when attempting to confirm knowledge, with the theory making the final claim that “(x) knows that (p) if, and only if, (p) is true. (x) believes that (p), [and] (x) is justified in believing that (p)”. Under the analysis brought forth by the JTB theory, justification serves as the final qualifier for the acceptance of the existence of knowledge, claiming that three qualifiers serve sufficiently together.

With the application of the JTB theory as a means to describe the qualifications of the existence of knowledge, the analysis does not extend past the level of justification, therefore disregarding the nuances of fallibility as irrelevant and making the theory prone to counterexample. The most substantial counterexample stems from philosopher Edmund Gettier’s work in regards to the concept of knowledge, as he sought to challenge the validity of the JTB’s theory basis. While attempting to further the JTB theory, Gettier examines the properties of justification, attempting to show the impact of false premise on the overall proof of a subject’s knowingness. Within his analysis of the existence of knowledge, he creates a new formula that attempts to show deduction based on false premise, making the claim that “if (x) is justified in believing that (p), and (x) deduces (q) from (p) argument, and (q) must be true if (p) is true, then (x) is justified in believing that (q).”

An example of a Gettier counterexample is as follows:

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