Add to Google

The Best Gettier Problem Ever!

Every day, I put my keys in a bowl by the door. I live alone and have the only keys to my apartment.

In the morning, I wake up and know the keys will be there. I reason: Because I put the keys in the bowl last night, they will be in the bowl this morning.

But! Unbeknownst to me, my enemy, Dr. Doom, has a bowl-making factory where the bowl that I use was made. Knowing I own such a bowl, he rigged it so that when the keys are placed in it, it activates a timer so that 4 hours later, when I’m asleep, the keys are teleported to the north pole.

But! My allies in the Justice League knew of Dr. Doom’s plans, and, unbeknownst to me, they put a special tracker on my keys. Every time the keys are teleported to the north pole, the tracker is activated, and Batman’s teleportation satelite beam hits it and teleports the keys back to wherever they were before they were teleported to the north pole, in this case, the bowl by my door.

So it is true that my keys are in the bowl by my door because I put them there…if I’d put them elsewhere, they wouldn’t be in the bowl!

Not only is my belief true, the justification for my belief is true, and it is in fact justificatory for my belief. Further, it correctly asserts a causal relation that explains (in part!) why my keys are in the bowl. Of course, no description of a causal chain is complete, so the fact that mine is missing some small elements is hardly a mark against it!

(The point of this Gettier problem is two-fold: 1: to show that Gettier problems are silly, and involve situations that never occur. No definition is perfect, especially not for a natural language concept, so we can expect that with a lot of work, we can come up with obscure counter-examples to any def. of knowledge.

2. As an example of a Gettier problem where all true claims are used in the justification, and the justificatory claim is causally related to the knowledge claim.)