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Knowledge and Justification

Knowledge and Justification

John L. Pollock
Copyright Date: 1974
Pages: 362
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  • Book Info
    Knowledge and Justification
    Book Description:

    One of the most firmly entrenched beliefs of contemporary philosophy is that the only way to analyze a concept is to state its truth conditions. In epistemology this has led to the search for reductive analyses, to phenomenalism, behaviorism, and their analogues in other areas of knowledge. Arguing that these attempts at reductive analysis have invariably failed, John L. Pollock defends an alternative theory of conceptual analysis in this book.

    The author suggests that concepts should be analyzed in terms of their justification conditions rather than their truth conditions. After laying a theoretical foundation for this alternative scheme of analysis, Professor Pollock applies his theory in proposing solutions to a number of traditional epistemological problems. Among the areas of knowledge discussed are perception, knowledge of the past, induction, knowledge of other minds, and aprioriknowledge.

    Originally published in 1975.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7073-8
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Chapter One What Is an Epistemological Problem?
    (pp. 3-22)

    Let us begin by looking at an example of a classical epistemological problem:

    There is a book sitting on my desk in front of me. But, now, suppose I ask myself how I know that there is, or more generally, how I know that there is anything there at all (regardless of whether it is a book). A sensible answer to this question would be, “Because I see it.” We know that there are material objects around us because we see them, feel them, hear them, etc. And the statement that we see something, or feel it, or hear it,...

  5. Chapter Two The Structure of Epistemic Justification
    (pp. 23-49)

    The fundamental problem of epistemology is one of answering questions of the form “How do you know thatP?” and these are questions concerning what justifies one in believing thatP. In order to answer these questions for each of the various areas of knowledge, it will be necessary to get clearer on the structure of epistemic justification.

    Our knowledge of the world comes to us through what, for lack of a better term, we might call “modes of intuition”, such as our senses of sight, touch, smell, taste, our interoceptive sense, our memory, etc. This much is at least...

  6. Chapter Three Theories of Perceptual Knowledge
    (pp. 50-70)

    Chapters One and Two have laid the groundwork for an attack on a number of traditional epistemological problems. The first of these is the problem of perception. The problem of perception is to explain how it is possible to acquire knowledge about the physical world on the basis of perception. This resolves itself into the task of giving an account of the justification conditions of statements about the physical world that shows how those statements can be based on perception. The basic tool for this task will be the concept of a prima facie reason.

    Historically, philosophers have been puzzled...

  7. Chapter Four Incorrigibility
    (pp. 71-79)

    It was argued in Chapter Two that our judgments about physical objects are based upon epistemologically basic beliefs, at least some of which have something to do with perception. In Chapter Three it was argued that beliefs ascribing perceptual attributes to physical objects are based upon beliefs about how we are appeared to. These two conclusions together suggest (but do not entail) that beliefs like “I am appeared to redly” are epistemologically basic, and hence either incorrigible or prima facie justified. This was assumed in several places in the last part of Chapter Three. But this is an unpopular position....

  8. Chapter Five Perceptual Attributes
    (pp. 80-133)

    In Chapter One it was argued that there are manyostensiveconcepts that can be analyzed in terms of their justification conditions. An ostensive concept is one that can be explained to a person with the help of an ostensive definition. It seems quite clear that the concepts of perceptual attributes are ostensive concepts. Any attempt to give a verbal definition of a concept like “red” is doomed to failure. The concept of a red object can only be explained to a person by pointing out red objects and non-red objects. Accordingly, the only way to analyze the meaning of...

  9. Chapter Six The Reidentification of Physical Things
    (pp. 134-174)

    I am typing this page on my typewriter. It is the same typewriter I used yesterday. But how do I know this? Philosophers have often been puzzled about how one can possibly know that an object observed at one time is the same object as one observed at another time. In the case of my typewriter, how do I know that between yesterday and today it has not been replaced by another typewriter of identical appearance? My judgment seems to be based simply on the appearance of the typewriter I used yesterday and the one I am using now. But...

  10. Chapter Seven Memory and Historical Knowledge
    (pp. 175-203)

    I had eggs for breakfast this morning. How do I know this? I remember that I did. But why is that a reason for believing that I did? Memory is not infallible. People are often mistaken in what they think they remember. What reason is there for thinking that memory iseverreliable? Of course, there are other ways to acquire knowledge about the past. We can examine old newspapers or documents, or talk to other people. But how do we know that what they report actually happened? As Bertrand Russell asked,¹ how do we even know that there was...

  11. Chapter Eight Induction
    (pp. 204-248)

    The traditional problem of induction was that of justifying induction. This is just one more instance of the traditional attempt to justify sources of knowledge. In the case of induction it is almost obvious that nothing could possibly count as a justification. We cannot justify induction inductively, and, as Strawson remarked, to attempt to give a deductive justification of induction is to attempt to turn induction into deduction, which it is not.¹ This, of course, is just what has always made the traditional problem of induction so puzzling. But the lesson to be learned from all this is that the...

  12. Chapter Nine The Concept of a Person
    (pp. 249-299)

    I witness a man hit by a truck. He is writhing about on the pavement and screaming. The splintered ends of broken bones are projecting through his torn flesh, and he is lying in a pool of blood. Being a philosopher, I ask myself, “How do I know that he is in pain?”

    This is representative of one type of problem regarding the concept of a person. The task of this chapter will be to analyze that concept. Pretty obviously, the concept of a person cannot be defined in terms of other purely physical concepts. It might be possible to...

  13. Chapter Ten Truths of Reason
    (pp. 300-340)

    It has traditionally been supposed that there are two kinds of truths. On the one hand there are “empirical” truths that can only be known by experience of the world; but on the other hand there are “truths of reason” that can be known simply by reflection, independently of any experience of the world. For example, one could know that all bachelors are unmarried without ever having met a bachelor, or even without there ever having been any bachelors. Such knowledge has traditionally been calleda priori knowledge. Knowledge that is not a priori is calledempirical.

    There is a...

  14. References
    (pp. 341-346)
  15. Index
    (pp. 347-348)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 349-349)