`Lady Pomegranate, she sees her husband pouring strange liquid into her soup and writes to tell Poirot she is being poisoned. She refuses food, but in reality it is her cigarettes he laces with mercury.’

‘Good God!’ Cried Hastings, ‘So, she was right.’

‘Oui mon ami, but she never knew.’

                                                     

A Gettier case, for anyone wondering about this saga, is one which shows that our concept of knowledge cannot be simply reduced to a justified true belief (JTB). Generally JTB seems to work for our everyday usage of the concept: the things we know are things we believe, we cannot know something that turns out to be false, and we cannot know something just by chance (imagine a person who says that they know that a horse they picked at random will win the Grand National. If the horse does win, whilst they were right, it seems we’d be hard pushed to say that they knew the horse would win). However, we can imagine cases, like the one above in which this account fails:

Lady Pomegranite had a true belief, ‘I am being poisoned’, which was justified by her seeing her husband pouring strange liquid into her soup (and presumably her deteriorating health), however, whilst she was right that she was being poisoned, she does not appear to know that she was being poisoned seeing as her belief and reasons for belief don’t match up in the right sort of way. Clever old Poirot obviously picked up on that!

There’s no easy work around with these cases, though many solutions have been proposed. Most of them end up looking like they’ll raise the bar on knowledge to a point at which it looks like we might fail to have it in many circumstances in which, intuitively, we do know things.

I’ve been absolutely dreadful at posting over the past few days, it turns out illustrating every post is a lot more work than I thought (also, drawing Hastings is really quite hard!); happily I have quite a few sagas already written and waiting to be illustrated, so the hard part of thinking up the ideas is out of the way at least. I’ll try catch up over the weekend. That’s all for today. Pip pip!

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