Knowledge as True and Justified Conviction. Is this bastion still worth defending?

Mateusz W. Oleksy


In this article I critically analyze the traditional concept of knowledge as true and justified conviction (TJC). I consider the conditions of conviction, truth, and justification, arguing that although these conditions (at least the first two, properly formulated) can be defended as necessary conditions of sentential knowledge, they do not together constitute a sufficient condition for knowledge. The principal aim of the article is to show that although TJC may be presented in a fairly trivial form, the fundamental epistemological claim that lies at the basis of this understanding of knowledge and makes it so attractive is indefensible. The most important of these presuppositions are the individualistic prejudice: that conviction is an isolated mental state; the objectivistic illusion: that truth imposes upon knowledge certain essential epistemic features; the internalist dogma: that justification must be available from the point of view of the first person; and the myth of the universal structure of empirical justification. In analyzing the various difficulties connected with TJC, I call attention to some of the most important controversies present in contemporary epistemology (the individualist-atomistic vs. the social-holistic conception of sentential content, the dispute about the definition of the truth, externalism vs. internalism regarding the issue of justification and truthfulness, etc.) . I am inclined to favor the externalist-social conception of knowledge.

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