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Philosophical Issues (Extended Cognition p. 5)

Posted Jun 30, '13 at 9:08am

Moegreche

Moegreche

2,845 posts

Moderator

Since I'm back for the foreseeable future, I thought it might be fun to consider some important philosophical issues. The idea I have in mind is to discuss issues - taking one at a time - that philosophers are currently thinking about. The goal is to introduce some of the member of the AG community to what philosophers do but more importantly to help develop critical thinking and argumentation skills for us all.

My role will simply be to (try to) guide the conversation and to fill in any theoretical gaps that appear. I know that my posts can be rather long-winded, so I'll try to sum up the conversation thus far with some handy bullet points at the end.

The topic I'd like to start with: how is knowledge more valuable than true belief?

This issue goes back as far as the writings of Plato, but is still an unanswered question - and one that is hugely important. There's an intuition that knowledge is, in fact, more valuable than true belief. The problem is actually providing an account of this value.

So let's suppose you're in Venice and you want to get to Rome, so you ask for directions. You have the choice between asking someone who has a true belief on how to get there or someone who has knowledge of the road to take. In either case, it looks like you're going to get to Rome. The first guy's belief is true (we've stipulated that) but so is the second guy's (since knowledge implies truth). So why would we prefer knowing over truly believing?

Summary:
Knowledge seems more valuable that (mere) true belief.
We can find plenty of cases where a true belief seems just as good as knowledge.
Is there a way to explain the value of knowledge over that of true belief? Or maybe knowledge doesn't have the value we think it has!

 

Posted Jun 30, '13 at 9:23am

Moegreche

Moegreche

2,845 posts

Moderator

Oh, and if any of you have ideas for future issues, please feel free to leave a suggestion on my profile page!

 

Posted Jun 30, '13 at 10:03am

partydevil

partydevil

5,097 posts

how is knowledge more valuable than true belief?

i didn't read you post but to just answer the bold question:

knowledge gives me a reason to know, that what i believe is true.
if i dont know what i'm talking about then i can't believe what i say is true.

 

Posted Jun 30, '13 at 2:01pm

Kasic

Kasic

5,572 posts

how is knowledge more valuable than true belief?

This seems an easy question to me. What one believes to be true may not necessarily be so, while knowledge can be of both correct and incorrect things. One can mislead and blind you, the other simply is.

 

Posted Jun 30, '13 at 2:06pm

Salvidian

Salvidian

3,950 posts

Ah, but without belief how can we gain knowledge? You have to believe something will or won't work before trying it out, and then after trying it do you gain knowledge. It's the scientific method.

 

Posted Jun 30, '13 at 2:09pm

Kasic

Kasic

5,572 posts

You have to believe something will or won't work before trying it out, and then after trying it do you gain knowledge. It's the scientific method.

No. The scientific method starts with observation. You don't have to believe anything - you just have to notice something that seems off. Then you think about it and try to come up with an explanation (hypothesis) and then test it (experiment). Data is then gathered an examined, and a conclusion is drawn based upon the results.

In fact, bringing current belief into the matter is bad science. It's called bias. If you do that, you're already looking to try and prove one thing or another, instead of remaining objective.

 

Posted Jun 30, '13 at 2:14pm

Salvidian

Salvidian

3,950 posts

In fact, bringing current belief into the matter is bad science. It's called bias. If you do that, you're already looking to try and prove one thing or another, instead of remaining objective.

Well, I didn't mean belief in the sense that you try and come up with pre-made conclusions. I meant the type of belief that creates ambition and then motivation. If you don't have that initial motivation, then you can't gain knowledge. I didn't clarify that well, sorry.

 

Posted Jun 30, '13 at 2:25pm

Kasic

Kasic

5,572 posts

If you don't have that initial motivation, then you can't gain knowledge.

I won't argue that beliefs can motivate people to explore and gain knowledge, but you don't need that either. People stumble across discoveries all of the time.

"Knowledge" is gained any time you learn something new, even if it's true or not. Even if you "learn" a hundred ways something won't work, you still learned. Whereas with what I take this idea of "true belief" to be as being so stuck in your way that you cannot easily be shown otherwise.

 

Posted Jun 30, '13 at 3:39pm

pangtongshu

pangtongshu

8,676 posts

The first guy's belief is true (we've stipulated that)

If the belief is true, would it not then be knowledge?
Isn't the difference between belief and knowledge the fact of truth and justification (reasonable and necessary plausible assertions/evidence/guidance [italics taken from wiki]) a for the idea held?

how is knowledge more valuable than true belief?

My answer for this, with my previous statement, would be that knowledge has justification behind it.

 

Posted Jun 30, '13 at 5:43pm

StDrake

StDrake

191 posts

Ah, but without belief how can we gain knowledge? You have to believe something will or won't work before trying it out, and then after trying it do you gain knowledge. It's the scientific method.

Ah, but the OP states that we should be considering TRUE belief. How can one call a belief true, if he feels the need to check and proove it..to himself?

I'd say that above is  why knowledge is better - it drives you to want to know more. True belief provides answers, but does not provide questions. When you know something happens a certain way you have a chance of asking - but why? And that leads to the aquisition of more knowledge..or at least attempts at that.
True belief merely states - "It is so", for it to be able to expand it requires either to be given new "facts" to passively accept..or be synergic with knowledge, which is a much less general case - and yet still it would have the  weakness of not being able to overthrow illusions, when the drive of expanding knowledge would show the previous beliefs to be incorrect.

Lets try to image that while trying to stay away from the ouchy topic of gods:
Take a situation of a tree visible in the distance
pure true belief - there's a tree there, end of topic
knowledge - I see a tree there, possible things to think
-is it really a tree?
-why do I see it?
-let's check if we can find out more about the tree
..and the tree turns out to be merely a painting
true belief synergic with knowledge - there is a tree there, let's check if we can find out more about it
..and the tree turns out to be merely a paiting...what now? at the same time for us that is a real tree and a painting? Houston we have a problem

 
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