Here’s an argument that every respectable epistemologist will reject the conclusion of. But I wonder which premise most people will think is false.

  1. If S has a justified, true belief that p, then S is aware that p.
  2. If S is aware that p, then S knows that p
  3. So, if S has a justified, true belief that p, then S knows that p.

At a pinch, I’d say premise 2 is false. But I’d be interested to know which premise other people think is false.

17 Replies to “Awareness”

  1. I’m more inclined to deny (1). Looking at the unbeknownst-to-me stopped clock, Russell forms the justified true belief that it’s 6 o’clock. But is Russell aware that it’s six o’clock? That doesn’t sound right to me.

  2. Carrie Jenkins beat me to the punch—the sense of the word in 1 must entail a stronger sense of awareness derived from a JTB whereas the awareness of 2 need not involve such epistemic depth. In addition, if “aware” in 2 does not involve anything like a JTB, then the conditional is dubious as well—so I also ratify your sense Brian that 2 is defective.

  3. Awareness seems to connote some form of cognitive attention to p. If this is the case counterexamples are available to both (1) and (2) without appealing to Gettier style cases. One might have many justified, true perceptual beliefs that one is not countenancing at the moment, which would provide a counterexample to (1). Further, as (1) states only sufficient conditions for awareness rather than necessary and sufficient conditions, one might be aware of some belief that p which is false, and if knowledge is factive this would constitute a couterexample to (2).

  4. I am always struck with JTB problems, by the fact that “justification” is something weak enough that its presence can not ensure knowledge.

    If justification has a lower-case j, problems creep in. If justification comes with a capital J, the problems vanish (if we insist in Russells example that the person staring at the clock had not obtained justification after all), and the problem of knowledge reduces to a problem of the meaning of justification.

    First time commenter, so sorry if I’m a little off topic. But if awareness follows from JTB, I’m confident enough that knowledge is obtained in a strong JTB.

  5. I do not agree that the issue is being aware-of—that has a palpable low-level epistemic interpretation. (There are behavioral constructs of being aware-of—spiders are aware-of flies in their webs.) Being aware-that implies cognition at some level. JTB is a sufficient condition for being aware-that something is the case. But being aware-of/that something is the case does not necessarily entail higher levels of self-reflective belief.

  6. Not to pile on, but I’d reject 1. It seems that on a natural reading of ‘aware’, being aware that p requires a directness that is not necessary for having a justified, true belief that p. That being said, I’m not quite sure I’d accept 2, either. It seems that on a natural reading of ‘aware’ being aware that p is consistent with suspending judgment as to whether p because we’re dealing where the subject might be aware that p but under the impression that things might be amiss. (Think of cases where the subject is aware that her limbs are arranged just so but is told that she has been given a drug that mucks with what is necessary for her to have proprioceptive awareness of the position of her limbs.)

  7. I’m not sure that I see the strong readings of ‘aware’ that most people are looking for. I think (4) is true.

    (4) I’ve been aware for a long time that New York is an expensive place to live.

    But I don’t have a “direct” line to the evidence that New York is expensive. I think it’s something I inferred from a lot of data. And I haven’t been consciously aware of my belief that New York is expensive every minute, or even waking minute. So I don’t think awareness, at least in one very natural sense, requires anything cognitively fancy than (background, dispositional) belief.

    And I don’t have any views here about ‘awareness-of’. That feels more like the ‘know’ in “I know Ernie Sosa”.

    Perhaps there’s an ambiguity in ‘aware’ beyond that which is relevant, but I’m not sure exactly what it is.

    The Gettier cases are trickier. What motivated the post was my reflection that intuitions about Gettier cases and awareness are much less clear than intuitions about Gettier cases and knowledge. That’s in part because, as Clayton’s example suggests, awareness can survive certain defeaters. But in part it’s a raw intuition that I don’t know is defensible.

  8. Maybe this is another line for motivating a strong sense of ‘aware’, and defending (2). (I haven’t thought about this very much, but it seems like a plausible line.)

    If S is aware that P, then S can properly use P as a reason for acting. Then following Stanley and Hawthorne (“Knowledge and Action”), S can properly use P as a reason for acting iff S knows that P. So, if S is aware that P, S knows that P.

  9. I think I’m one of the people advocating a “strong reading of ‘aware’.” But it has nothing to do with directness of evidence, or conscious awareness of awareness. I’m happy to agree that you’ve long been aware that New York is expensive; I think this is true only if you’ve long known that New York is expensive, which I’m also happy to agree with.

  10. I worry about the reading of ‘awareness’ requiring nothing more than a dispositional belief. I do not know that I am aware of all of my dispositional beliefs at any point in time. This seems to rule out the possibility that a mental patient or hardened racist would harbor some unconscious dispositional beliefs developed from suppressed childhood trauma or picked up ostensibly from an environment full of like-minded individuals.

    Perhaps I am aware of certain dispositional beliefs given a context in which the beliefs in question are salient to the matter at hand, whatever that may be, but in this case I would think that if these beliefs served as an inferential basis for certain occurant beleifs I would have to be attending to them consciously in some way.

    Additionally, I am worried about the line of argument rejecting (1) and strengthening (2) to a biconditional. It seems intuitively natural to say that I am aware that ‘The ticket I am holding for a fair, 1,000,000 ticket lottery will lose.’, but not so to say that I know ‘The ticket I am holding for the fair, 1,000,000 ticket lottery will lose.’.

  11. The last one would have to be the false one…….

    I would have to say, number 2 is the best one:

    “If S is aware that p, then S knows that p”

    Because if S is aware of p,then S knows that p. If S wasn’t aware of p, S would not know what p existed.

    Then the next best thing would have to be:

    “If S has a justified, true belief that p, then S is aware that p.”

    Because if S has a justified belief, then in a way S is aware that p exist and/or that it was there. OR does what it does.

    Which leaves Number 3 to be the false one.

    “So, if S has a justified, true belief that p, then S knows that p”

    Because if S has a justified true belief or whatever. Then S doesn’t know that p. Because S has a belief, but doesn’t know p. Just what S believes.
    So If anything S is aware of p, but does not know p.

    Can you let me know if its right or what you think?

  12. Soooo I have a justified true belief in god, but do I know god? NOO I do not know god, just my true justified belief in god.

    So therefore I am more aware of god, and his existence, then knowing him. But in a way I do know him, If I didn’t then P wouldn not be known. So thennnnnn there all false statements. well 2 and 3 are, becuase the first one probably does make more sense.

    Cuz S is aware of P, but knowing him or it is not a problem.

  13. I bet theres no way you can comment back could you? Im just trying to justify if my thinking is considered INSANE, or if I truely do fit in with philosophy. Well heres a tantilizing thought on how to fix the global economy or atleast are’s…

    Pretty much you have to spend money to make money economics 101 right? WORNG!!!! Not in this particular situation. 700 billion dollars comes out of our pockets to fix the economy, so all there really going to do is get that 700 billion back, IF ANY, OR A LITTLE AMOUNT!. SO that could of went to FIX ALLLLL OF KATRINA, but instead got dumped to where we really didn’t need it, and wont even see it back…bye bye birdie….

    What they reallly need to do, since we invented money and the system for it. IS RESET IT, And/OR lower the cost of everything. Because if you buy,make, and sell your good for cheap, then you in turn would see more profit. Thats for everyone BTW.
    Only thing is wages for employees would have to stay the same.

    WE THE PEOPLE, spend the money. THE MORE MONEY WE HAVE. The more TAX DOLLARS YOU SEE. The MORE BILLS GET PAID OFF, THE MORE MONEY FLOWING BACK INTO WALLSTREET. Needless to say all the loans would start being paid back.

    AHHH BUT THERES THE RUBBBB. All the money would in turn go to the employees, seeing no profit or gain at all; WRONG!!!!!

    Think about it like this, put it all into a pie chart. CUT everything you spend up in half or less except the EMPLOYEE. When the rest is cut in half the MONEY WOULD MOVE OVER TO THE EMPLOYEE!!!!

    THUS CAUSING PROFITSSS TO GO THROUGH THE ROOOF. Making milionares, billionaire, and the lower class middle class, and the middle class upper class. A TOTAL RESTIMULATION ON SOCIETY!!!

    With more money in our pockets the more we can spend,buy, and pay people off. NOW THINK OF IT GLOBALLLY!!!!

    We can probably all travel across the world, just for the mear fact, that every dollar cut, is back in the consumers pockets.

    BETTER YET, The golden topic a few months back is how we can fix our failing (forgot the term)transportation, buildings, and bridges.

    Welll if you cut everything in half, for everyone one bridge you were to make befor ethe cuts, you now have 2 and or 3 instead of one. BEING ABLE TO DO MOREEE for less is what the world needs. TALK ABOUT GETTING SHIT DONE. IT HAS TO BE DONE!!!

    No one seems to take me serious though. I seriously think this is going to work, and work wonders.

    Well What do you think my man?? Can you atleasr let me know?

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