Does Knowledge Matter?

My question in this talk is “Does Knowledge Matter?” Before I give you my answer —which is “not in itself,” roughly—I need to explain exactly what the question means. Think of epistemology as studying our beliefs and the process of inquiry by which we arrive at them.1 There will be many ways of sorting our beliefs, in themselves or with reference to the inquiry that led to them. Some of these won’t be particularly interesting. No one much cares whether a particular belief is the product of an inquiry that began on a Tuesday. We do care about whether a belief arose from an inquiry that was wellconducted (whatever that means); it reflects on how good the believer is as a believer. The question is: Should we care whether a belief counts as knowledge? Here I’m thinking of ‘knowledge’ as we intuitively judge it when we’re not thinking about philosophical concerns; including the judgment that (at least many) people make that knowledge is lacking in Gettier cases. So: When we evaluate a belief, should we care whether it’s knowledge, including the avoidance of Gettier cases? Mark Kaplan (1985) has given an argument that we shouldn’t care. Suppose someone has a Gettiered belief; it’s justified and true but fails to amount to knowledge because of a false lemma or some such. Kaplan points out that this can’t lead to any criticism of your methods of inquiry. Ex hypothesi your belief is justified; the conduct of your inquiry was entirely proper. Nor (though Kaplan does not emphasize this point) is your belief erroneous. Kaplan’s conclusion is that the concept of knowledge does not..
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