Plato said that knowledge was justified, true, belief. That is to say that there are three conditions to be met, in order for something to be considered knowledge. Firstly, according to Plato, the subject of the knowledge should be true. For example, I cannot know, that 1+1=3, because 1+1=2.Furthermore, knowledge also holds the condition of Belief. In order to know something, you must believe it. For example, I cannot know that I am writing an essay, if I do not believe that I am writing one, otherwise I would have no knowledge of doing so, as I would not acknowledge my doing so.The third and final condition for knowledge, if Plato’s definition of knowledge is used, is Justification.
In order to know something, must be justified. For example, if there is no evidence for something – that is no evidence or foundation leading to my belief – then I cannot say that I know something, as there would be no reason to believe it, or capacity to explain why I believe it. In short, without justification, there is no basis to say that something is knowledge.However, some Philosophers have argued that all three conditions can be met, but result in no knowledge, this problem is known as the Gettier problem.
For example, let’s say I know two twins, Fred and Bob. I walk past a room – Fred’s room- and think to myself Fred is in that room. I know that Fred is in the room, because I can see Fred, I am justified in my knowledge, because I can see Fred. However, it is not Fred that I see but his twin, Bob. However, also unbeknownst to me, Fred is actually in the room, but hiding under the bed. As a result, although I am justified in my belief – I saw Fred, although it was not Fred – I am only correct by coincidence. I don not really know anything, as it is only coincidental that Fred was in the room, when I made the statement.
So, it cannot constitute as knowledge, as I was mistaken in my justification.Through the responses to the Gettier problem we can begin to see why there is the necessity of justification for knowledge. When I believe that I have knowledge of Fred in the room, my justification of it, is that I am looking at Fred (although I was looking at Bob). One response to the Gettier problem is the idea of the ‘No false belief condition’.
In short the condition states that ‘Beliefs cannot be based on a false belief’. I based my knowledge of Fred being in the room, on the false belief that I was looking at Fred. In order to have knowledge of Fred being in the room, it must be based on a justification/belief that is not false. Knowledge without a justification can be taken as having a false justification – there is not justification to speak of – so a justification, but only a non-false one, is required for knowledge.Another response is the ‘Defeasibility condition’. This condition dictates that ‘something is known as long as there is no evidence to the contrary’.
This condition further relies on the justification to support what is taken as knowledge. In short, when I saw Bob, thinking he was Fred, there was nothing to contradict my belief that who I was seeing was Fred. It was Fred’s room and I saw Fred. There was nothing to contradict the justification for my knowledge, so I could be entitled to call my ‘justified, true, belief – non-knowledge’, knowledge.Justification is also a necessity for the idea of ‘reliability’. According to Reliability, my justified true belief should be formed through a reliable method.
Consequently, my justification must be sound. Instead of just looking and seeing Bob/Fred and taking that as my justification, I should have looked under the bed and searched every aspect of the Room, for my justification to be taken as that, in a stricter sense.The concept of the ‘Conclusive reasons condition’ also puts great emphasis on the justification. This condition states that ‘A reason must exist for the belief that would not be true if the belief itself were false.’ So if I believe that Fred is in the room, is my seeing Fred in front of me, my reason for doing so, is that Fred would not be in front of me if the condition were false.
However, I am mistaken in this belief, as it is Bob, so my belief and justification do not constitute as knowledge.The final response is the ‘Causal connection condition’. The condition dictates that ‘there must be a causal connection between the knowledge and the belief’. So when I say that I know Fred is in the room, I should not be able to; as there is not causal connection between my looking at Bob and Fred being in the room. The fact that Fred is in the room is irrelevant, as my justification is made false.
From these arguments we can further see why there is the necessity of Justification. Without it, knowledge could not be claimed as there would be no basis for it, as there would be no basis for the beliefs required to say that we actually know something. Regardless of whether something that we may say we know is true by accident, we cannot know it if the basis of our beliefs – the justifications – are false.