Epistemology Friday

I honestly never thought I’d be living out one of the classic thought-experiments from a philosophy tutorial.  But that’s what happened.

I was picking my wife up from hospital where she had had some tests.  As I drove into the hospital complex, she called me to say the receptionist had informed her I had arrived and she’d meet me at the exit.  But how did they know I was there?  Especially when, at the time the message was delivered, I wasn’t.  Presumably some other patient’s partner had arrived and the receptionist told the wrong person.  But did they know I was there?  As a former student of epistemology – the philosophy of knowledge – this demanded further thought. (Yes I know, I know, but bear with me.)

Justified true belief is a definition of knowledge,  often credited to Plato and his dialogues. The concept states that in order to know that a proposition is true, we must not only believe the relevant true proposition, but also have justification for doing so.


Philosophers construct all manner of thought experiments to test the principle against our accepted use of the expression to know.  For example, cases in which we believe something for good reason but it turns out unexpectedly not to be true.  Do we know it?  Or cases where we believe something and it is indeed true, but we don’t have good cause for believing it.  Do we know it?
And here I was in real life in a situation which put the theory to the test –  my wife believed me to be there (tick) a belief which was true, but her justification was flawed.  Or was it?  Did she know I was there?
I do appreciate this belongs in ‘pseud’s corner’ but I couldn’t resist it.


Mike Ashley: marketing genius?

Let’s hear it for one of marketing’s great ideas that’s almost universally unrecognised.  Yes it’s the humble Sports Direct mug.  You’ve got one.  I’ve got one.  We’ve all got one, possibly several.  Every time you buy something (come on, you can admit it, we’ve all been there) from Sports Direct online, you get one of these oversized mugs, like it or not.  And even though it’s frankly rather ugly (and it tells the world  you shop at Sports Direct) your sustainability-driven conscience won’t let you throw it out. So you keep this tiny advertisement for Mike Ashley’s sports empire on show in your home for ever. The cost to him is about a quarter to a fifth of bugger all.  And your lovely home even gives Sports Direct a kind of genteel respectability.  It’s utterly brilliant.


Is this Britain’s unfriendliest clothes shop?

There’s a school of thought that suggests we Brits secretly love to be intimidated by arrogant sommeliers and doormen at posh venues.  Could that extend to clothes shops?


This is a  well established (and I presume successful) men’s clothes emporium in Cobham, Surrey.  The clothes are a bit on the pricey side, but this isn’t Mayfair and it’s far from haute couture.  So it’s quite surprising to find that the door remains locked unless you knock to be allowed in.  Maybe I’m a bit downmarket but I’ve always had a rule of thumb in retail that you encourage customers to come in and browse.  When you do enter, the disdain of the staff is evident almost to the point of caricature.  Funny thing is this doesn’t stop me wanting to buy stuff from them –  almost the opposite.  D’you think if I asked nicely they’d beat me up a bit too?