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Kevin Ringeisen
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My question is on (2) "Jones knows that if he wins the lottery, then he will not be teaching philosophy next year." Isn't there possibility that this, too, isn't knowledge under his definition? As far as I'm aware, predictability is pretty slim when applied to the future. A number of situations (of which he can't be aware of) might arise where he both wins the lottery and continues teaching (a change in heart etc)? Also, are we talking teaching in a literal sense, as in, at the university? It's also arguable that teaching, in a sense, will not stop when he becomes an independent scholar (he does after all interact with others, publication of studies "teaches" people also). If these are both false, would they not then be contradictory but just lead to a non sequitur and invalidate the argument? @Ethan, I see your point and agree that the hardness of this argument amounts to (at least) a negative view of knowledge in general. However, I disagree with the argument that Tests determine a student's knowledge for a variety of reasons: 1.) If a student is absent, he may receive a zero, contrary to his knowledge base. 2.) Grading uses averages (which are intrinsically non-resilient)so the student who doesn't turn in things on time (even once) has his grade influenced much more than if the teacher used the median (which is resilient). The forgetful student would have a higher "grade" with the latter. Thus, the only true grading scheme would have to include a complete statistical package complete with confidence levels et al. 3.) In relation to the above, a students "knowledge" then, is actually based on the relative distances between the scores, rather than their absolute quantities. Straight addition would fix this issue as zeros would amount not to lack of knowledge, but unproven knowledge. But then you run into the problem of a student taking more tests than others and the retesting of material. 3.) This applies mainly to multiple choice questions and mathematics. Write-out answers, or the subjective nature of an english class, also add to the difficulty as portraying tests as accurate assessments of knowledge. In other words, instead of stating that "Tests show knowledge of students" and arguing that as a premise that this view of knowledge might be flawed (or at least pessimistic) because it always nets in 0, I would argue the opposite: "Test's don't show the knowledge of students" in which case your reasoning ends. It's not perfect system, but as the saying goes "It's good enough for government work."
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Mar 22, 2011