Is mere true belief knowledge?

Erkenntnis 56 (2):151-168 (2002)
Abstract
Crispin Sartwell ingeniously defends the provocative thesis that mere true belief suffices for knowledge. In doing so, he challenges one of the most deeply entrenched epistemological tenets, namely that knowledge must be more than mere true belief. Particularly interesting is the way he defends his thesis by appealing to considerations adduced by such prominent epistemologists as William Alston, Laurence BonJour, Alvin Goldman and Paul Moser, each of whom denies that knowledge is merely true belief. In this paper, I argue that the case Sartwell presents for his thesis fails. However, by examining why it fails, we may derive at least four important epistemological lessons: (1) being justified does not entail being able to give a justification; (2) we should distinguish between epistemic justification conceived of as intrinsically conducive to truth and conceived of as extrinsically conducive to truth; (3) we should distinguish between epistemic justification conceived of as an essential criterion of knowledge and conceived of as an accidental criterion of knowledge; and (4) epistemologists need to specify how the telos of inquiry involves more than the acquisition of (merely) true beliefs.Socrates: Then tell me: what definition can we give with the least risk of contradicting ourselves?
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