forum 1, week of Jan 8, Dretske

Fragment of a discussion from Course talk:Phil440A
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In response to question 3, 'suppose knowing something is excluding *relevant* alternatives to it. What could *relevant* mean?'

I take 'relevant', based on Dretske's arguments, in this case to mean something fairly intuitive in terms of everyday language. In other words, a relative alternative would be a possibility that if brought up in conversation would not elicit some degree of surprise or confusion in whoever is being spoken to.

To clarify this I will offer an example similar to Dretske's example of Brenda ordering cake. Say we know that Joe purchased ice cream from the ice cream truck since we can exclude relevant alternatives. An example of a relevant alternative would be that 'Joe purchased a popsicle from the ice cream truck' since it is a plausible circumstance. It needs to be eliminated before we can know that he purchased ice cream. An example of an irrelevant alternative circumstance would be the possibility that 'Joe walked up to the ice cream truck and requested a haircut'. This possibility would certainly not be thought of as a common request for an ice cream salesman and if I told someone it was the case they would likely be moderately surprised or confused. Thus it would not fit into the category of relevant alternatives.

This example doesn't clarify the exact definition of 'relevant' with respect to Dretske's argument but it is an illustration of what I take him to mean.

22:51, 17 January 2012

For question 2, "the fact that it could be so shocking" claims the epistemic operators are not part of the presupposition. As they are tied within the statement, "the roses are wilted", through Dretsky's use of contrastive consequences, the statement appears to articulate the qualitative predicates, "roses" and "shrubs" as instances of a broader concept of plants. It seems as if yes, there is a small degree of knowledge, acting in what seems as an anchor. However, I do lean towards James' argument in language itself being the determinate of the nature in how we form these ascriptions to knowledge.

04:28, 18 January 2012