Juan Comesaña and Holly Kantin have a paper
forthcoming out in PPR that argues against Williamson’s E=K thesis. (UPDATE: Actually it’s not forthcoming, it’s in the March 2010 edition. My apologies.)
- Juan Comesaña and Holly Kantin, Is Evidence Knowledge?
Now I don’t believe E=K. But I do sorta believe that only knowledge is evidence, and that’s the target of most of their arguments. They call the thesis that only knowledge is evidence E=K 1.
They argue that certain Gettier cases are impossible given E=K 1. Here’s one such Gettier case.
Coins. You are waiting to hear who among the candidates got a job. You hear the secretary say on the telephone that Jones got the job. You also see Jones empty his pockets and count his coins: he has ten. You are, then, justified in believing that Jones got the job and also that Jones has ten coins in his pocket. From these two beliefs of yours, you infer the conclusion that whoever got the job has ten coins in his pocket. Unbeknownst to you, the secretary was wrong and Jones did not get the job; in fact, you did. By chance, you happen to have ten coins in your pocket.
Now this seems like an easy case to me. “You” have two pieces of evidence. First, that Jones has ten coins in his pocket. Second, that the secretary said that Jones got the job. Those bits of evidence justify a belief that whoever got the job has ten coins in his pocket. But Comesaña and Kantin think this isn’t a good enough explanation of the story. They insist that the intermediate conclusion that Jones got the job is also part of the evidence. I’m not sure quite why they think that; it seems contradictory to me to say that p is part of someone’s evidence, but ¬p. They do offer this consideration.
And there is no argument that we can think of to the effect that your belief that Jones got the job plays no part whatsoever in justifying you in thinking that whoever got the job has ten coins in his pocket.
That seems like a failure of imagination to me. In general, there’s always an argument to the effect that p. Namely God knows that p, therefore p. Now the first premise might occasionally be false, but still, it’s an argument.
A little more seriously, here’s one such argument.
- Only knowledge justifies.
- “You” do not know that Jones got the job.
- So the (false!) proposition that Jones got the job plays no part whatsoever in justifying you in thinking that whoever got the job has ten coins in his pocket.
I know that Comesaña and Kantin don’t believe the first premise. Indeed, that’s the conclusion of their paper. But to use the falsity of that premise in an argument against it seems somewhat circular.
Posted by Brian Weatherson in Uncategorized