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.



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