Is Reliabilism Is True, Could We Ever Know Whether We Know Anything?

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The main issue addressed in this exposition is if “reliabilism is true, could we ever know whether we know anything? (If not, how big a problem would that be?)” According to the following evidence that will be presented, it is suggested that there is no way of knowing whether we know anything, when using the reliabilist form of justification as a way to reach truth. To begin, reliabilism is a form of justification where we do not need to account for the exact sources our beliefs come from because it “is externalist in character” (Handout 10). Moreover, a belief is justified if it was formed by an unconditionally reliable process, or by a conditionally reliable process that receives input from other conditional reliable processes that are …show more content…

An example of this is the Fake Barn County case. Henry is with his father and passes through a place full of barns, however he doesn’t know that all of these barns that he is seeing are fake barn façades people on this County have put as a decoration. Still, without knowing anything about the environment he is in, he points at the only barn that is actually not fake. Thus, his belief about that barn being a barn is true, but it is not justified because Henry knows this out of sheer luck (Nagel 52, 53). Meaning that if a belief is justified out of luck Henry doesn’t know that this is a barn. To account for this gap between justification and knowledge reliabilism steps in, and explains that in this case Henry’s belief is not properly justified because he is not using an appropriate belief-forming mechanism for the environment he is in (Nagel 53). This means, that depending on the environment we are at we have to switch between different belief-forming mechanisms in order to be able to justify our beliefs. Thus, if Henry kept using his old belief-forming mechanism, to identify barns in a new environment like Fake Barn County, he would most of the time fall into error, proving that his method of belief-formation is not truth conducive thus unreliable (Nagel 53).

Until now, it seems like reliabilism does a reasonable job at “[tying] justification and truth together” (Handout 10). Additionally, emphasizing the importance of external factors such as

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