Date of Award

Spring 1980

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Philosophy

First Advisor

James Hamilton

Second Advisor

Richard Lambert

Third Advisor

William Thompson

Abstract

In any discussion of the bases and possibility of human knowledge there is an inevitable problem that arises, which concerns the variety of the ways the verb "to know" can be used. For instance, one can speak of knowledge in the sense of "knowing" how to play a musical instrument. Also, we "know" our friends in a way that is certainly different from "knowing" that two plus two equals four. These various usages of the verb "to know" provide important areas of inquiry within the philosophical theory of knowledge. Philosophers have, and must continue to study the various aspects of what our "knowledge" entails. There is no reason to look for some basic meaning that provides the "common denominator" of our philosophical discussion in this area. This would be an artificial limitation of the scope of human knowledge. Although the inquiry into human knowledge is a many-faceted affair, a paper such as this needs to limit its scope. The primary concern of this inquiry is the epistemic problem of truth. In this connection I am considering the problem of knowledge in relation to "knowing what isthe case." Even though it is admitted that this is not all that "knowing" consists of, it is certainly asserted here that the connection between knowledge and propositional truth (true assertions) is very important. What happens when the philosopher concerns himself with the notion of "truth"? Is it the business of the philosopher to deal in this matter at all? We certainly use this term in our daily affairs and it doesn't seem to be too great of a problem when used in these contexts. For example, we say "It’s true that he visited me today” or "The truth of the matter is that my car is not running at this time" and we usually do not have any problem understanding the meaning of what is being asserted when we speak at the level of ordinary statements like these. But philosophers would like to know just what is being done when "Is true" is predicated of some statement or group of statements. In other words, they would like to know the meaning of this term but they would also like to know when it is being used properly, that is, the conditions that call for this term to be applied to a sentence. It is at this point that the philosophical problem of truth has entered the scene and become somewhat of a headache. As one person puts it "The question 'What is truth?' presents the aspect of a blank and very high wall: one is reduced to staring 1 at it helplessly.

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