Peter Klein: What Is Knowledge? (Gettier Problem) | Who Shaves the Barber? #37

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Peter Klein

What is knowledge?

For some time, the answer to this perennial question was thought by many to be “justified true belief”. If I believe X to be true, I have good reason for believing X to be true, and X really is true, then I know X. In 1963, Edmund Gettier published a now legendary three-page paper titled “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?” in which he gave two examples of justified true belief that did not constitute knowledge. Since then, epistemologists have mostly agreed that there’s some extra ingredient requisite for knowledge but have disagreed about what it is. After drawing out Gettier’s examples, Peter Klein explains that there are two major camps. The first he calls etiology of belief: theories in which the extra ingredient has to do with how the belief was attained. Reliabilists, for example, argue that a justified true belief counts as knowledge if the belief is arrived at via a method that reliably delivers accurate beliefs. Klein belongs to the second camp: quality of evidence theories, which have to do with the strength of the justification, not the cause of the belief. Klein defends his own preferred quality of evidence theory: defeasibility theory, which involves the existence or absence of “defeaters” for the justification.

Next week: David Papineau: Naturalism

Interested in knowledge? You may be interested in Alvin Plantinga’s epistemology, which I discussed with professor Jim Slagle.

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Special thanks to Jackie Blum for the podcast art, and The Tin Box for the theme music.…

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Peter Klein: Infinitism and Pyrrhonism | Who Shaves the Barber? #36

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Knowledge!

Suppose you know X. How do you know? Maybe you know because of Y. How do you know Y? Maybe the answer is Z. How do you know Z?

This is the regress problem of knowledge, also called the Agrippan trilemma and the Münchhausen trilemma. It is based on the supposition that if we claim to know something, we must have a reason for it and that reason must itself be something that we know. This leaves open four possible solutions. One is skepticism, the belief that we have no knowledge. The most common is foundationalism, which posits certain basic facts that require no external reasons to be justified. Another option is coherentism, which solves the problem via a kind of circular reasoning or justification loop. And finally, there is infinitism, the view that there is no end to the regress. For any chain of justification, the final member of the chain will always be unjustified, and it is always possible to go looking for further reasons of reasons of reasons. As infinitist Peter Klein puts it, knowledge is never “settled”. Even so, says Klein, it is still possible to have knowledge. In this interview, Klein first argues why he thinks coherentism, foundationalism, and a certain kind of skepticism all fail. He then explains his own account of justification, as “something that we do”, and how it makes the infinitist picture look more plausible than it first seems.…

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Bryan Caplan: Non-State Legal Systems | Who Shaves the Barber? #35

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Bryan Caplan

Does the law need to be provided by the state?

Economist Bryan Caplan breaks down the law into three components: rule formation, arbitration, and enforcement. For all three, he provides examples of how these are already provided without the state in many contexts. He also explains the theoretical reasons we shouldn’t be surprised to find law provided without the state, usually better than the state does. He goes on to speculate how the law could be provided if there were no state at all. Finally, he considers two common objections: that law without the state leads to chaos, and that providers of legal services in a world without the state will inevitably collude and come together to form a new state.

Next week: Peter Klein: Infinitism and Pyrrhonism

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Special thanks to Jackie Blum for the podcast art, and The Tin Box for the theme music.
Click here for the full list of episodes!

Topics discussed

1:14 – Non-state law that already exists
2:23 – Innovation in the creation of new rules (copyright)
5:11 – Private enforcement of law: private security, ostracism, bonds
7:32 – Private arbitration and private rule formation
9:13 – Benefits of competition
13:54 – Expanding role of contracts
19:03 – Private law without contracts
20:24 – Law without any government
27:34 – Collusion objection and economies of scale
29:27 – Tyler Cowen’s collusion argument from network industries

Sources

The Case against Education (Bryan Caplan)
Bryan Caplan (homepage)
“The Economics of Non-State Legal Systems” Part 1Part 2Part 3 (Bryan Caplan)
Law as a Public Good: The Economics of Anarchy” (Tyler Cowen)
Outline of a Critique of Tyler Cowen’s ‘Law as a Public Good’” (Bryan Caplan)
Networks, Law, and the Paradox of Cooperation” (Bryan Caplan, Edward Stringham)
Adjudication as a Private Good” (Richard Posner, William Landes)…

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