JTB-Epistemology and the Gettier Problem in the framework of topological epistemic logic

Review of Analytic Philosophy 3 (1):1 - 41 (2023)
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Traditional epistemology of knowledge and belief can be succinctly characterized as JTB-epistemology, i.e., it is characterized by the thesis that knowledge is justified true belief. Since Gettier’s trail-blazing paper of 1963 this account has become under heavy attack. The aim of is paper is to study the Gettier problem and related issues in the framework of topological epistemic logic. It is shown that in the framework of topological epistemic logic Gettier situations necessarily occur for most topological models of knowledge and belief. On the other hand, there exists a special class of topological models (based on so called nodec spaces) for which traditional JTB-epistemology is valid. Further, it is shown that for each topological model of Stalnaker’s combined logic KB of knowledge and belief a canonical JTB-model (its JTB-doppelganger) can be constructed that shares many structural properties with the original model but is free of Gettier situations. The topological model and its JTB-doppelganger both share the same justified belief operator and have very similar knowledge operators. Seen from a somewhat different perspective, the JTB-account of epistemology amounts to a simplification of a more general epistemological account of knowledge and belief that assumes that these two concepts may differ in some cases. The JTB-account of knowledge and belief assumes that the epistemic agent’s cognitive powers are rather large. Thereby in the JTB-epistemology Gettier cases do not occur. Eventually, it is shown that for all topological models of Stalnaker’s KB- logic Gettier situations are topologically characterized as nowhere dense situations. This entails that Gettier situations are epistemologically invisible in the sense that they can neither be known nor believed with justification with respect to the knowledge operator and the belief operator of the models involved. Keywords. Stalnaker’s logic KB of knowledge and belief; Topological epistemology; Epistemic Invisibility; Doxastic invisibility; Gettier cases;

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Thomas Mormann
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München (PhD)


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