forum 10: week of March 19 - second order knowledge

Fragment of a discussion from Course talk:Phil440A
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I just wanted to talk a bit about what we discussed today the kk principle- that you can know something because you know that someone knows that. A part of me wants to say that this can't be a case of knowledge because in order to KNOW something you must have reasons or evidence for it. But then again how can we personally experience everything and know everything only through personal experience. Obviously we gain much of our knowledge through testimony. So is S knows that R knows that P is not necessary a case in which S doesn't have evidence or proof. I think S can in fact have evidence without personal experience. The fact that S even says I KNOW that R KNOWS means that obviously R is a legitimate source and expert or has enough evidence for S to be certain or to KNOW that R does in fact know it. So although S himself doesn't have the evidence and or did not collect it personally if he is in fact saying that he KNOWS R KNOWS it it is because he KNOWS that R HAS THE EVIDENCE. If R was just saying something which S was not sure about or wasn't sure that R really knew it or had good enough reason to know it then S would never say I KNOW. I feel like just the wording makes this statement correct because we are not saying that S believes that R has some reasons to know P rather we are saying that S KNOWS (he is certain because R is a reliable source etc) that R KNOWS (he has facts and evidence and experience) that R. Therefore I do think that S can in fact know that R also. His evidence may not be PERSONAL experience but his evidence is the fact that he can in fact trust R as a legitimate and reliable source.

03:19, 23 March 2012

I agree that it is appealing to be able to use testimony gain knowledge. However, I think this forces us to ask other questions, such as how do we know that one's source of information is reliable? Can we assume that if they have been a reliable source of information in the past, that we can trust them to be a reliable source in this case as well? Or is it a matter of checking to see that they have evidence to support their testimony? I guess I'm a little sceptical of second-order knowledge, when I think about how confidently one can know something based on testimony, my instinct is that one needs to see the evidence that the other person has, which leads us back to first-order knowledge.

05:44, 23 March 2012