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What is Knowledge?

2. The Gettier Problem

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In the previous module, we thought about the analysis of knowledge by identifying the necessary and sufficient conditions that obtain when we ‘know’ something, and we came up with the traditional (tripartite) analysis of knowledge as a justified true belief. In this module, we think about some issues with that analysis, focusing on an example (known as a Gettier case) where someone has a justified true belief that p, but where he doesn’t ‘know’ p. After that, we think about why we should prioritise knowledge over a mere true belief anyway, before returning to the question of how we can better ‘analyse’ knowledge to get around the Gettier problem.


In this course, Dr Arif Ahmed (University of Cambridge) explores the question ‘What is knowledge?’. In the first module, we introduce the idea of ‘analysing’ knowledge and arrive at the classical, tripartite definition of knowledge as justified true belief. In the second module, we introduce a series of examples known as ‘Gettier cases’ that seem to undermine the analysis of knowledge as justified true belief. In the third and fourth modules, we explore several analyses of knowledge that attempt to get round the Gettier problem, and show the advantages and disadvantages of each, before turning in the fifth question to the possibility that there is no satisfactory analysis of knowledge, and that we should change our approach entirely. This module includes three such new approaches – that of W. V. Quine, that of Edward Craig, and that of Timothy Williamson.


Dr Arif Ahmed is Reader in Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. He writes mainly on decision theory, but also has an interest in religion and has debated the subject against William Lane Craig, Tariq Ramadan, Rowan Williams and others. Some of his recent publications include (as editor) Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations: A Critical Guide (2010), Evidence, Decision and Causality (2014) and (as editor) Classical Philosophical Arguments: Newcomb's Problem (2018).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Ahmed, A. (2021, January 02). What is Knowledge? - The Gettier Problem [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Ahmed, A. "What is Knowledge? – The Gettier Problem." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 02 Jan 2021,

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