The cow in the field

Credits- dreamstine stock photos.

A farmer is in deep worry because his prize cow has wandered somewhere. The farmer expresses his concern to a milkman. The milkman reassures him not to worry because he has seen the cow nearby. The farmer tries to look for the cow in the nearby field, he sees a large shape that is black & white. He is relieved to see the cow. He visits the field just to be sure the cow is there. The cow is there, but to his surprise, the cow was hiding inside a bush of trees. The black & white thing that he saw was just a big piece of paper. This raises the question: was the farmer right when he said the cow is in the field?

The cow in the field is a classic example of the Gettier problem. It was discovered by Edmund Gettier in 1963. According to Plato, for anyone to attain knowledge, three conditions must be satisfied. Belief, truth and justification. So if a person believes something to be true and can provide a justification for it, he has attained knowledge. The three conditions are called tripartite of knowledge. Edmund believed this theory is wrong. He gave two reasons to prove it wrong. While justification is present, the justification is fallible because there is a possibility that the belief could end up being false. This means that our justification for the truth can be wrong because sometimes the source of our information can be false. Each problem features luck. In all of Gettier’s problems, the belief becomes justified; however, it is due to the presence of pure luck.

Gettier attempted to fix the tripartite theory of knowledge. he came up with 4 theories. Now instead of 3 conditions, he believed knowledge had an extra condition. The four theories are:

1. No False Belief condition: this theory states a belief cannot be based on a false belief. For example, someone at the cake you ordered the night. They ordered another cake for you. When you woke up in the morning, you saw the cake and you didn’t notice that it’s not the same cake you ordered. You think it’s the same cake.

2. Causal connection condition: Between knowledge and belief, there has to be a causal connection. For example, Rohit believes that Pratham is in the room because he saw him in the room. But in reality, he saw his twin brother Latham in the room. Although Pratham was also in the room Rohit didn’t see him. That’s why Rohit’s reasoning is wrong. According to causal connection, Rohit shouldn’t be able to prove that Pratham’s in the room cause he didn’t see him

3. Conclusive reasons conditions: A reason for belief must exist that would not exist if the belief were false. For example, you know a softie is in front of you because there is a softie in front of you.

4. Defeasibility condition: This states that as long as there is no contrary evidence, a belief is known. In the scenario with Rohit, Pratham and Latham. Rohit is entitled to say Pratham is in the room because he doesn’t know evidence pointing to the contrary.