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KFS (KM) in China:
I The Gettier Counterexamples

In 1963, E. Gettier published his criticism on the knowledge definition of "justified true belief". He argued that although a knowledge holder believed in a knowledge claim, and justified his belief by finding "adequate evidence" for it, a "sufficient condition of the truth of the proposition" (Gettier, 1963) that he knows the knowledge claim would not be fulfilled. That is because a belief based on invalid assumptions could lead to true conclusions. He produces two examples on which he elaborates his position:

Firstly, the Jones and Smith example that describes a situation in which Smith and Jason both apply for a job position. Smith then produces a knowledge claim according to which Jones is going to get the position and has ten coins in his pocket (I). With evidence being that the president of the company assured him that Jones would be selected in the end and that Smith himself counted the coins in Jones' pocket ten minutes ago. Therefore, Smith concludes that the man who will get the job has ten coins in his pocket (II). Gettier states that Smith's clearly justified for believing that II is true because it is a conclusion from I for which he has strong evidence. In the example, however, it turns out that Smith gets the job and that Jones really has ten coins in his pockets which defies proposition I. Unknown to Smith however, he himself also has ten coins in his pockets which makes proposition II true. Therefore he II was true but was based on I that was false.

However, the main problem the author has with Gettier's argumentation is the statement that justification is met when "adequate evidence" (1963) is held. In the example, it is "adequate" that Smith considers the president's assurance that Jones would receive the job position as sufficient evidence that Smith would get the job. However, there are more possible factors that could influence the company's decision. For example the level of the president's influence over the hiring decision or the president's intention when he gave the assurance. In my opinion, justification should be a process in which the individual should evaluate all available truths and defeaters in order to produce an ultimately undefeatable evidence to support his knowledge claim. That is all truths and defeaters from the past, present, and future. Thus, knowledge cannot be seen as a single, absolute but rather as a dynamic process.


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