What are the main arguments against JTB being individually necessary for knowledge?

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I can't find anything useful and coherent online and I've tried everywhere. I'm interested specifically with regards to AQA's A-level syllabus.
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Source: https://alevelphilosophyandreligion.com/

On the tripartite view, J T & B are individually necessary for having knowledge which means that if one is not present then knowledge cannot be possible. A case where knowledge is had while nonetheless lacking one of those three criteria would therefore be a counter-example to the tripartite view.


Step1: Zagzebski, in her article, ‘What is knowledge’, claims that knowledge is a particular type of mental contact with reality. Since reality is ‘everything that is the case’ (to use Wittgenstein’s phrase) i.e. what is true, and knowledge is supposed to be of reality, that provides reason for the criterion of truth.

Critiquing the individual necessity of truth:

Step 2: scientific knowledge is what we currently have most reason to believe based on the available evidence at the time. This means that it changes over time. E.g. In the early 1900’s Physicists believed the universe was static and eternal, whereas today most believe it is expanding and began at a point in time at the big bang. This is because more evidence has been gained. Perhaps yet more will be gained to change the current view of the origin of the universe. Scientific knowledge might therefore be false and so seems to be a case of knowledge without truth.

Step 3: If knowledge could or indeed is false, then arguably it cannot be knowledge. It seems absurd to say we know something, yet it is false.

Step 4: Science can make planes fly. It clearly works. There are some false assumptions because some planes crash, however there must be some knowledge.


Step 1: The idea of the mind connecting with reality also provides reason for the criterion of belief since if your mind does not make contact with reality then it seems difficult to see in what sense your mental content might be connected to reality.

Critiquing the individual necessity of belief:

Step 2: A student learns an answer to a question and then forgets it. In an exam, the question comes up and the answer surfaces in their consciousness, seemingly from nowhere to them, though it happened to have triggered their memory without their realising it. They decide to write it down as they have no better idea, though as they thought that answer popped into their mind from nowhere, they do not believe it is right. Arguably this is knowledge without belief.

Step 3: Having your memory associate an answer with a question is arguably not the same as truly knowing something. In order to know something, arguably you have to know that you know it.


Step 1: Justification is the reason or warrant for a belief. Reasons, and so justifications, can be good or bad. Seeing something with your eyes is a good reason, and so justification, for belief in it. Seeing something within a dream is not. There are a variety of types of bad justification such as irrationality, mistakes, logical errors & ignorance.

Zagzebski claims that we think knowledge is good, namely desirable. Having knowledge is difficult as it requires an apparatus of mental abilities but because knowledge is valuable to us, that makes the knower worthy of praise and esteem. It is possible to have a true belief which was not justified if it was gained due to luck/chance, e.g. horoscopes, reading tea leaves or palm reading. True belief can also be gained by irrationality, such as being convinced that someone is a librarian due to seeing them read a book. If they turned out to in fact be a librarian, that would be true belief but not justified because not all book readers are librarians. Luck and irrationality will occasionally produce a true belief, but philosophers would rather explain such events with the phrase ‘a broken clock is right twice a day’, rather than confer the praise and esteem of ‘knower’ to the believer in such cases. This provides justification for regarding justification as a criterion for knowledge.

Critiquing the individual necessity of justification:

Step 2: Knowledge of our immediate perceptual awareness. E.g if I am looking at a red thing. To claim there really exists a red thing in an external world would require some justification, however merely to know that I am having an experience of redness arguably requires no justification since it is known immediately with no process of reasoning or inference.

Step 3: If it is possible to doubt my existence (criticisms of the cogito) then that would cast doubt on the claim to know my immediate perceptual awareness.
Last edited by Joe312; 10 months ago

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