Recall the tripartite analysis of knowledge, according to which a subject S knows that p if:
S knows that p if:
As we mentioned, epistemologists are looking for a definition of knowledge that is necessary and sufficient. Conditions (1), (2) & (3) are individually necessary for knowledge; are they jointly sufficient? According to Edmund Gettier, they are not. In his well known 1963 paper ‘Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?’ Gettier constructed a series of counterexamples to the tripartite analysis. That is, cases where intuitively the subjects do not seem to know that p but have justified, true beliefs that p. Any case that functions as a counterexample to the tripartite analysis is called a Gettier-case, but it is unlikely that Gettier was the first to construct such counterexamples. They are also found in the work of Bertrand Russell and Alexius Meinong decades earlier and arguably in the work of classical Indian philosopher Sriharsa as far back as the 1100s.
Gettier Cases: Counterexamples to the view that knowledge is justified, true belief.
Click on the tabs below to view some of these cases. Cases (1) & (2) are Gettier’s own cases, case (3) comes from Bertrand Russell.
Notice that I have written ‘lucky’ in bold in each of the three scenarios. What seems to be the problem with the tripartite analysis is that it allows for lucky knowledge. But, as we saw in Step 1, Knowledge is incompatible with luck. The whole point of introducing the justification condition was to try to accommodate that thought, to rule-out lucky knowledge. What makes Gettier cases so problematic is that they show that the justification condition was not up to the task assigned to it.