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The Value of Knowledge

My alarm goes off. It’s time to get up. I believe that it’s time to get up. In fact I know that it’s time to get up, I did after all set my alarm for that very purpose. Knowledge is valuable. Knowing that it’s time to get up has instrumental value. Namely, that I had better get myself out of bed and do whatever needs to be done. What happens if I hold the true belief that it’s time to get up, but I don’t know that it’s time to get up? It would seem as though exactly the same thing happens. I get myself out of bed. Then what value does knowing something have, that merely believing it to be true lacks? 

There might be any number of reasons why I believe that it’s time to get up. I might have dreamt that I have an early morning appointment, it turns out that I don't, and I still have to get up for work anyways. My belief that it's time to get up would be true.
Or consider if I have an appointment at 9, and if I get up at 8, I believe I will make it in time. In fact I'm overly optimistic and I'd never make it in time. But, unexpectedly and unknown to me, the meeting is postponed by an hour and I make it to the meeting in time after all. So it was truly believed that I would make it on time. But it was unjustified, I just got lucky.

If I value knowledge more than mere true belief, I’m faced with the task of figuring out what it is about knowledge that I value more than I value mere true belief.

Philosophers call the question of why knowledge is valuable the value problem. The value problem can be traced back at least as far as ancient Greece, where Plato presents the problem in his dialogue Meno. The more specific problem Plato presents is, why is knowledge more valuable than mere true belief?

At this meetup we’ll discuss the value of knowledge and try to draw what conclusions we can about the various value problems and what they mean for how we relate to our knowledge. Some questions to ponder:

• What is knowing for? 
• What kinds of values do we place on knowledge?
• How does or should the value(s) of knowledge impact the way we live?

Two good articles to read in preparation for the discussion are as follows:

I hope this discussion proves valuable.


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  • Kenny

    2nd Group Meetup on this Topic
    For those who were unable to make it to this meetup. Also for anyone who'd like to come and discuss, so long as there's room.

    November 20, 2013

  • Suzanne

    I enjoyed seeing everyone again, and it was also good to meet folks that I haven't had a chance to meet previously. I look forward to our next meet/discussion.

    November 18, 2013

  • Suzanne

    I may be a bit late to the discussion today (~15 min). If this ends up being the case, I'll try not to be disruptive when I arrive. See everyone in a bit.

    November 17, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I just added a plus one guest and was bumped onto the waitlist :/ whats up with that?

    November 16, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    What's the wait list policy? Can we do an alternate meetup?

    November 15, 2013

    • Kenny

      Wait list policy is fairly standard. If someone changes his or her RSVP from "Yes" to "No" then it frees up a spot for someone on the wait list.

      I have been thinking about an alternate meetup. I think it's possible to do. There may be a couple of logistics issues to figure out.

      I'd like to see how many people from the wait list would go to an alternate meetup.
      If there's at least, say 6 people? Then I'll go ahead and post an alternate meetup, and we'll have to figure out Date, Time, and Venue.

      2/6 so far: Kenny, Shaun

      Anyone ON THE WAIT LIST who would attend an alternate meetup, please post here saying so.

      **After this meetup I will be post some meetup guidelines regarding RSVPs, No Shows, Alternate Meetups if there's large interest....

      November 16, 2013

    • Kenny

      People are welcome to attend both the primary and alternate meetup. Or if unable to attend the primary you may post here as well.
      When 6 people post here we'll have to figure out Date and Time that works. I'll post the meetup. Then I'll find a venue and send out an announcement.

      November 16, 2013

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