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Justified True Belief Formula

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    In this essay, I will argue in support of Zagzebski’s assertion that luck is involved in knowledge, and due to this, the “the justified true belief formula” raises flaws and limitations to the reality of what knowledge is or can be due to its constricting values and requirements. This issue is philosophically significant because the premises of what can be determined as “knowledge” has been an ongoing debate for centuries, and the existence of knowledge and what constitutes it as valid can impact the future’s perception as to what is actual knowledge. Luck along with many other factors can both inhibit or prohibit the success and creation of knowledge. Knowledge and the premises of how it has come to the possession of mankind is wildly controversial.

    Many philosophers disagree in the origin of knowledge and on whether knowledge is deep within mankind or whether it simply exists and is discovered by man. Either way, the realization or discovery of some form of knowledge requires luck. The philosopher, Timothy Williamson, further supported that knowledge needed a component other than just a truthful, justified belief in the sense that beliefs can often be false in their reasoning or theory even though there is an apparent justification for their “knowledge”; in his opinion, belief alone was in between the success and failure in acquiring knowledge. This ideal coexists in many ways with the discoveries of the vaccine for polio or medicine for the common cold because man did not simply “know” this information. It was by luck that he or she had the luck to both create and successfully display their knowledge without external factors prohibiting it. In several situations, the difference between success and failure in relation to knowledge can be defined by a stroke of luck; for instance, Zagzebski’s criticism and analysis of a situation where a wife has made a mistake in identifying her husband’s brother as her actual husband since the chair in which he sits in is often occupied by her husband shows how luck or the lack of can impact the knowledge one has.

    Zagzebski defends the notion that the wife had an instance of missed luck in identifying her husband by saying “The falsity of the belief is therefore due to some element of luck. Now emend the case by adding another element of luck, only this time an element which makes the belief true after all”. This claim offers heavy support for the idea that luck has an impact in several forms of knowledge and their context. Some may say that the failure of the woman to identify the man in the chair as her husband’s brother would simply call her “knowledge” a false belief through and through, but in fact, the lack of luck in mistaking her husband’s brother as her husband is what made her knowledge false because in many other instances, the wife would have had the luck in correctly knowing that her husband was in the chair due to her knowledge that he often sits in the chair. Zagzebski’s claim can further be defended through the examples that commonly relates to people’s use of their own perception of direction and locations in their everyday lives. For instance, the common question occurs for every driver as to which way to turn when in a town or area that he or she is only faintly familiar with.

    Their “knowledge” tells them to go left in order to reach their desired destination. This decision acquainted by luck allows the driver to reach their destination even though their belief in their knowledge was loosely based. The luck acquainted with the driver’s trust and belief in his or her sense of direction allowed the driver to reach the correct destination without complications. Although their belief to turn left was justified through the experience of the area and true due to their decision to turn left was correct, the exterior factor of luck is what gave their belief legitimacy. The driver’s decision to turn left could have ended horribly and resulted in them being lost if luck or other factors were not into play. This idea that along with belief there has to be outside factor that influences the efficacy of one’s knowledge heavily relates to both Zagzebski and Williamson in their theories that knowledge cannot just be explained through the “justified true belief formula”, but instead, has external factors such as luck that contribute to knowledge’s possibility.

    At one point, Williamson says “You need knowledge; not even blameless true belief is enough”. Williamson’s claim essentially coexists with that of Zagzebski, but instead of listing a specific, external factor that correlates to knowledge, he simply labels it as X. Both philosophers agree that belief and truth need to be a part of knowledge; however, some other factor must be a part of the equation for knowledge because in many cases a justified, true belief is not enough. Reverting back to the issue with the driver and choosing which way to turn, the driver could have had a devout belief that turning right would have been the correct way, but in reality, this belief was ultimately false and therefore not knowledge due to the belief’s lack of luck or some other dependent factor. Although the idea that knowledge cannot depend on seemingly independent factors crosses many people’s minds, humankind would have to both be essential untouchable and flawless to achieve knowledge without some other factor. No one is fully protected from external factors that could inhibit one’s knowledge from continuing on or being seen because the world is both a dangerous and accident-prone environment that can consistently ruin or limit one’s ability to successfully display or spread their knowledge.

    Both extreme or minute disasters or complications can stop one’s success. If one wanted to refute this, they would have to have proof that complications or external factors have never once stopped their success or any other individual’s success in association to their knowledge. Mistakes or complications can happen, but in lucky situations, one’s excellent paper can be turned in or their proposal for a new groundbreaking scientific theory can advance due to its survival through problems and limitations. External factors such as weather, personal issues, limitations in association with one’s home life, death, and many more can limit the ability of one’s knowledge to flourish and be made known to others.

    The circumstances that surround one’s knowledge can consequently hinder or end it. The theory that knowledge can expand beyond just being true, justified, and a belief is supported by philosophers such as Zagzebski and Williamson. The assertion that luck is a part of can be seen through a variety of situations and examples, and it is through luck that many forms of knowledge survive and sustain their importance within the world. Luck along with other factors allow knowledge to be both a reality and adequate due to their fine-tuning impact on how knowledge gets out into the world or if it ever will. Although knowledge may need to be both justified and truthful in its premises, the luck that follows it ensures that both you and I have the opportunity to see or create it ourselves. Justified True Belief Formula

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