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Gettier Gets Far Too Much Credit

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There is an old theory of knowledge known as the JTB view: the view, that is, that knowledge is "justified true belief."

Edmund Gettier gets a lot of credit for weakening the hold of JTB upon conventional wisdom, in his brief article of 1963 in the journal ANALYSIS, arguing that there are cases in which all three circumstances are met, but which one wouldn't ordinarily speak of as "knowledge." 

Some people believe Gettier gets more credit than he deserves. Alvin Plantinga has written:

According to the inherited lore of the epistemological tribe, the JTB [justified true belief] account enjoyed the status of epistemological orthodoxy until 1963, when it was shattered by Edmund Gettier... Of course there is an interesting historical irony here: it isn't easy to find many really explicit statements of a JTB analysis of knowledge prior to Gettier. It is almost as if a distinguished critic created a tradition in the very act of destroying it.

Also, Bertrand Russell stated a Gettier type case before Gettier did. It appears in his book HUMAN KNOWLEDGE (1948). Russell writes of a woman named Alice, who looks at a clock where the hands point to 12 and 2. She concludes that it is 2 o'clock. But the clock is no longer working. But (another "but"!) it stopped exactly 12 hours before Alice glanced at it. So it is only a matter of luck that Alice comes to believe that it is the time that it actually is, 2 o'clock.

Does Alice "know" the time or not?

And why does Gettier get the credit? Maybe just because Russell is known for so much else that one might as well grant Gettier this. He is known after all for nothing else! 


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