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.