## Gettier's Case I Is Bewitchment

• 11.4k
Suppose that Smith and Jones have applied for a certain job. And suppose that
Smith has strong evidence for the following conjunctive proposition:
(d) Jones is the man who will get the job, and Jones has ten coins in his
pocket.

Smith's evidence for (d) might be that the president of the company assured him
that Jones would in the end be selected, and that he, Smith, had counted the
coins in Jones's pocket ten minutes ago. Proposition (d) entails: (e) The man who will get the job has ten coins in his pocket.

Let us suppose that Smith sees the entailment from (d) to (e), and accepts (e)
on the grounds of (d), for which he has strong evidence. In this case, Smith is
clearly justified in believing that (e) is true.

But imagine, further, that unknown to Smith, he himself, not Jones, will get the
job. And, also, unknown to Smith, he himself has ten coins in his pocket.
Proposition (e) is then true, though proposition (d), from which Smith inferred
(e), is false.

In our example, then, all of the following are true: (i) (e) is
true, (ii) Smith believes that (e) is true, and (iii) Smith is justified in
believing that (e) is true. But it is equally clear that Smith does not KNOW
that (e) is true; for (e) is true in virtue of the number of coins in Smith's
pocket, while Smith does not know how many coins are in Smith's pocket, and
bases his belief in (e) on a count of the coins in Jones's pocket, whom he
falsely believes to be the man who will get the job.

Here's the problem...

Smith's belief is not the man with ten coins in his pocket will get the job. Rather, Smith has two beliefs:Jones is the man who will get the job, and Jones has ten coins in his pocket. Turns out that the latter is JTB, but the former is justified false belief. Gettier's sleight of hand is made when he introduces the notion of entailment, by which he combines the two beliefs into one. But "he" is Gettier, not Smith. The proper entailment that Smith would've used to combine the two into one would have had to have continued to specify Jones. The content of Smith's belief included Jones in both cases... specifically. Changing Jones to "the man" is changing the content of Smith's belief. Smith's belief is the target.

Gettier conflated his own report of Smith's belief with Smith's belief.
• 6.8k
Instead of two beliefs, it is two separate notions of justification.

On one hand, there is what seems to be your idealist approach - a dyadic correspondence between what you believe and what you observe. And this is contrasted with the realist approach where the dyadic correspondence is between what you observe and how the world really is.

So what is needed to ground truth is the pragmatic or semiotic account which is triadic, and so can embrace both these correspondence claims.

Now it become the case that our belief or interpretation is connected to the world itself outside via the mediation of a sign.

So here, it is the number of coins in a pocket that has been proposed as the sign - the observable. And a mistake in counting shows that this sign could be an idea rather than a reality.

This seems a real problem. But a semiotic view says that is how signs work. They have to - somehow - have a foot in both camps and thus stand as the third thing in the modelling relation going on.

It is the same with dreams, illusions, imaginings, fictions and all the other ways we can have "sensations" that are "unreliable" when it comes to a correspondence with reality.
• 11.4k
Hey apo...

I don't even bother attempting to build a bridge between those two camps.

They both make the same mistake. They conflate reports of thought/belief with thought/belief. This, in turn, conflates the content therein.

On my view, correspondence doesn't lie between thought/belief and fact/reality. Rather, it is necessarily presupposed within all thought/belief formation and the attribution of meaning itself. Correlation presupposes the existence of it's own content, no matter how that is later qualified as 'real', 'imaginary', and/or otherwise...
• 4.6k
Gettier's sleight of hand is made when he introduces the notion of entailment, by which he combines the two beliefs into one. But "he" is Gettier, not Smith.

Not quite. Gettier is explicit:

Let us suppose that Smith sees the entailment from (d) to (e), and accepts (e)
on the grounds of (d), for which he has strong evidence.

Your argument has been made before -- maybe by Donnellan, I forget. It's that there are two different sorts of definite descriptions, and that in some cases such a description is used to refer, that it is in essence a name.

The thing is, logic is useful. We want to be able to manipulate linguistic tokens liberated from the circumstances of their utterance, to make inferences of the sort Gettier attributes to Smith. But logic has to be informed by linguistics. Ever since logic was formalized and logicians began applying it to natural language, there's been a recognition that an utterance doesn't always wear its logical form on its sleeve.

So there are two ways to take this: that you're right because Gettier is getting the linguistics wrong, or, more precisely, he's exploiting an ambiguity; or that you're wrong because you have no principled way of blocking the ambiguity Gettier relies on. It might even be a problem if you could.

We wouldn't see anything odd about a scenario in which Smith knows nothing about what Jones has got in its pocketses, but is asked to guess and guesses right. The sense in which "ten" is right -- with no justification at all -- is all logic cares about, and the source of logic's usefulness. Why that should be so, I can't say, except that abstraction rulez.

I would say we want to find linguistic grounds for blocking the ambiguity that Gettier exploits without blocking the use of logic entirely. I agree with you, by "the man with ten coins in his pocket" Smith means Jones. But how do we justify our preference for this interpretation? If it's by appeal to something that will nullify logical analysis, then that's a problem.

Sorry -- rambling, repetitive response. I agree that what's weird here is the entailment. I also think that means the stakes here are the nature of logic.
• 11.4k
No worries Srap...

Smith wouldn't accept (e). That's precisely the sleight of hand. "The man" isn't equivalent to "Jones", and if Smith would generalize in such a way, then "the man" would not refer to himself. So...
• 11.4k
Let me be clear, Smith could accept (e) if by that we mean that Smith could accept that (e) follows the rules of entailment. That is not the same as believing (e). His belief is clearly stated, and it is not (e).
• 11.4k
The thing is, logic is useful. We want to be able to manipulate linguistic tokens liberated from the circumstances of their utterance, to make inferences of the sort Gettier attributes to Smith. But logic has to be informed by linguistics. Ever since logic was formalized and logicians began applying it to natural language, there's been a recognition that an utterance doesn't always wear its logical form on its sleeve.

Logic is a product of thinking about thought/belief.

Get thought/belief right.

Of course Gettier is working from the conventional notions/formulations of JTB, which already makes the mistake of conflating thought/belief with reports thereof.
• 6.8k
On my view, correspondence doesn't lie between thought/belief and fact/reality.

I have no idea what you mean here. It sounds like some brand of idealism if you so clearly rule out fact/reality. Although fact and reality could also be talking about the "thing in itself" and the observables we take as its signs.

So what is fact/reality? And what is thought/belief? Is that conception, interpretation or what? Translation please.

Rather, it is necessarily presupposed within all thought/belief formation and the attribution of meaning itself. Correlation presupposes the existence of it's own content, no matter how that is later qualified as 'real', 'imaginary', and/or otherwise...

Now here is sounds like you want to talk about the packaged deal instead of the analysed justified belief relation.

It seems of course obvious that we need to "presuppose" both the existence of the world, and the veracity of our signs, or sensory observables. So correlation or inference can work because it is really doing something. And the way we become sure of that in practice is that presupposing this triadic truth relation has a definite outcome. Over time we come to reliably see a sharp difference between what is just our imaginings or wishful thoughts - the stuff we assign to our "self" - and then the recalcitrant category of experience which we then assign to the "existence of a real world".

So the presuppositions may seem necessary to start the ball rolling. But they remain in force only because we find they actually seem to do something very definite in partitioning our experience into a realm of thoughts and a realm of physical reality.

Thus the packaged deal of "inference to the best explanation" does not predetermine what it finds. And this is historically obvious as we have learnt that reality is not actually coloured. The hues we experience sit on the side of our ideas as constructed signs. Over the other side is electromagnetic energy. Or at least that is where our scientific strength inferencing has got us to in terms of conceiving the thing-in-itself in terms of a system of signs (that is, theories and measurements, ideas and impressions).
• 13.9k
Smith's belief is not the man with ten coins in his pocket will get the job. Rather, Smith has two beliefs:Jones is the man who will get the job, and Jones has ten coins in his pocket.

But I can apply the same reasoning here. Smith's belief is not that Jones has ten coins in his pocket. Rather, Smith has two beliefs: Jones has ten pieces of metal in his pocket, and these pieces of metal are coins. But then Smith's belief isn't that Jones has ten pieces of metal in his pocket. Rather, Smith has two beliefs: Jones has a pocket, and there are ten pieces of metal in this pocket.

We can play this reduction game for quite a while. Doesn't quite seem right though.
• 4.6k

And the argument can always be retooled so that Smith fits whatever description you deem to safely refer only to Jones.
• 11.4k

I wrote:

Smith's belief is not the man with ten coins in his pocket will get the job. Rather, Smith has two beliefs:Jones is the man who will get the job, and Jones has ten coins in his pocket.

You replied:

But I can apply the same reasoning here. Smith's belief is not that Jones has ten coins in his pocket. Rather, Smith has two beliefs: Jones has ten pieces of metal in his pocket, and these pieces of metal are coins. But then Smith's belief isn't that Jones has ten pieces of metal in his pocket. Rather, Smith has two beliefs: Jones has a pocket, and there are ten pieces of metal in this pocket.

We can play this reduction game for quite a while. Doesn't quite seem right though.

That's not the reasoning I used.

"Jones" is not equivalent to "the man". Changing the correlations that Smith draws is changing the meaningful content of Smith's belief. Changing the meaningful content of Smith's belief produces a target that is not what Smith believes. That is precisely what happens in this case. Thus, it doesn't make much sense to me for you to do the same thing Gettier does while claiming that that is the reasoning I used.

It's not. Not at all. I granted Smith's beliefs. I'm quite simply pointing that out.
• 4.6k

If you want to describe Smith's belief as "Jones will get the job", then what do you do if it turns out that, unbeknownst to him, Smith's name is actually "Jones"? Then you'll have to say he meant a particular Jones. And if you give any way of identifying that Jones, I'll give you a new version of the problem that makes it refer the Smith as well. Eventually you'll end up locking meaning inside Smith's head.
• 11.4k
If Smith doesn't know his own name, then so much for all of us assuming we're working with a rational/reasonable target.
• 11.4k
The underlying issue, it seems to me, involves the undeserved trust placed in the notion of entailment. I suspect that that is due to not having a good grasp upon thought/belief, and thus not being able to effectively analyze what Gettier calls "belief".
• 4.6k

Part of what's going on here is that we construct untold numbers of sentences and utter them in untold numbers of circumstances, all using a finite number of lexical units. Language has to be ambiguous. In practice, we only need to narrow the possibilities enough to be confident enough to go about our business. Occasionally that bites us, but mostly not, and when it does, it's usually easily resolvable. Gettier forces us to take a single utterance or a handful and denies us the usual tools for resolving ambiguity.
• 13.9k
"Jones" is not equivalent to "the man". Changing the correlations that Smith draws is changing the meaningful content of Smith's belief. Changing the meaningful content of Smith's belief produces a target that is not what Smith believes. That is precisely what happens in this case. Thus, it doesn't make much sense to me for you to do the same thing Gettier does while claiming that that is the reasoning I used.

It's not. Not at all. I granted Smith's beliefs. I'm quite simply pointing that out.

I don't understand how this addresses my post. For one, "the man" doesn't appear at all in my writing.
• 11.4k

I would agree that the ambiguity of language is a factor. More importantly however, in these cases the conceptual scheme(linguistic framework) is the culprit.
• 11.4k

"The man" appears in Gettier's case. He changed Smith's belief. Your last post made different changes to Smith's belief. My post simply pointed out Smith's belief.

You claimed that you used the same reasoning as I. You did not.
• 11.4k

I wrote:

On my view, correspondence doesn't lie between thought/belief and fact/reality.

You replied:

I have no idea what you mean here. It sounds like some brand of idealism if you so clearly rule out fact/reality. Although fact and reality could also be talking about the "thing in itself" and the observables we take as its signs.

So what is fact/reality? And what is thought/belief? Is that conception, interpretation or what? Translation please.

This thread is not the place. You're welcome to join the Mechanics of Thought/Belief thread. The OP ought answer all these questions...
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