forum 5: week of 6 Feb. Hawthorne and lotteries
I cannot bring myself to approve of most of the examples that Hawthorne supplies beyond, perhaps, his example including eating salmon. There seems to me a slippery trick in connecting a "now" proposition with a "then" proposition as we continually do. The little word "will" makes such a difference, as does the difference between have and am! That I have hands is indisputable, regardless of whether or not I am also a brain in a vat. That I will tend the dog tomorrow does not hinge on whether or not I have a heart attack tonight. I understand that in epistemology we're not interested in collapsing wave fronts and following branches of time, but each of Hawthorne's examples seems to do just that without actually solving the issue of how to travel forward and back along the correct timeline and stay in the correct possible world!
The examples that work for me as examples that look like knowledge, and as examples that don’t look like knowledge, are those expressed in Paragraph 563 of On Certainty, a publication of material written on twenty sheets of foolscap, and written in small notebooks, that Dr. Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote in the last year and a half of his life:
563. “One says ‘I know that he is in pain’ although one can produce no convincing grounds for this.—Is this the same as ‘I am sure that he…’?—No. ‘I am sure’ tells you my subjective certainty. ‘I know’ means that I who know it, and the person who doesn’t are separated by a difference in understanding. (Perhaps based on a difference in degree of experience.) “If I say ‘I know’ in mathematics, then the justification for this is a proof.
“If in these two cases instead of ‘I know’, one says ‘you can rely on it’ then the substantiation is of a different kind in each case. “And substantiation comes to an end.”