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Do you know you are reading this question?

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Introduction

Do you know you are reading this question? To be able to answer the proposed question I must take a similar stance to Descartes as a foundationalist. To be able to read the question, my existence is necessary. As Descartes proposed, 'cogito ergo sum', I think, therefore I am. Now that I have assumed the existence of my mind, I must discover the knowledge that I am reading the question. I believe I am reading this question. The subtle difference between belief and knowledge is explained by Quine through the clever use of a metaphor. In "Two Dogmas of Empiricism" Quine asserts that our beliefs form a proverbial web. The central core of the web is contextually well established. Some beliefs are so firmly entrenched at the centre of the web, they can seem not to be open to criticism. This common mistake leads us to believe that they are analytic truths. Analytic truths are true by definition. Quine later said in reference to his web of belief, "It is a pale grey lore, black with fact, and white with convention. But I have found no substantial reasons for concluding that there are any quite black threads in it, or any white ones." ...read more.

Middle

It has been proposed that such knowledge is justified by the testimony of reliable authorities on such topics. It would seem sensical to accept such knowledge of my beliefs due to a reliable figure of authority having proposed them. It appears that there is reason to think that we have well justified believes even though we are not aware of how they are justified. Such as someone knows that they are reading the question, yet they are not able to justify clearly as to why they hold that belief. A common response would be that it is possible to provide a justification if required through the aid of research, yet I feel justified prior to any additional justification. Many scholars have proposed the problem of a malicious demon which creates non-veridical perceptions of actual sense data in people's minds. All of their perceptual beliefs which are believed to be stipulated to be qualitatively equal to ours are therefore false. This renders belief of our perceptions of the world unreliable. Even though we share similar justified perceptual beliefs due to their experiences being identical to ours, the beliefs of the people in the deceptive world must also be justified, which shows reliabilism fails. ...read more.

Conclusion

This apparent sense-data is then labelled by a community which agrees that there is the quantum shift from experience to analytic truth, due to the language game not allowing the tautology to be anything else, on pain of contradiction. Ayer is criticised due to his definition of analytic being far too liberal as no restrictions are placed upon the legitimacy of the process which produces the definitions, so it is possible for us to label anything 'incorrectly', as in Malcom's words, "if we went around defining tables as chickens, it would not be too difficult to prove that tables lay eggs." This is possible by Ayers initial criterion, as anyone can define anything as anything. This claim can be easily rebutted by emphasising that Ayer's central claim that all language must first begin with ostensive verification. Which is only when a community agree that a public object can be publically labelled. Thus, due to the community having agreed on the language which labels the words with the meaning they contain, I can answer the question, 'Do you know you are reading this question?' With complete certainty that I am actually reading the question, due to the fact that we do not allow it to not be the case that I am not within the definition of the words and the structure of the question. ?? ?? ?? ?? Daniel Horner ...read more.

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