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How (if at all) do you know that you are not a brain in a vat?

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  1. Introduction
  2. Defining the 'brain in a vat' hypothesis
  3. The causal theory, developed by Goldman
  4. The failure of the conditional and the causal theories of knowledge
  5. Conclusion
  6. Bibliography

Our whole life (attitudes, reactions, actions) is based on knowledge. Depending on our present state of knowledge, we are going to react to different situations in different ways, give different answers to different questions. To do that however, one has to know something. Even though we do not tend to question our knowledge in everyday life, it is interesting to do so in order to (ideally) find an answer to the sceptics who deny that knowledge exists, who assert that we cannot know anything for sure.

[...] Unfortunately, that argument does not hold because, if it were so, then if S was p was am a BIV' and p was true, then S should believe that even if she does not know why, but she will not, it follows from the premises: you will never believe that you are a BIV. So even if the fourth condition would this time hold, the second and the third conditions believes that p and S is justified in believing that would again not hold. [...]


[...] In conclusion, I have tried to use the causal and conditional theories to find a way for us to know that we are not brain in vats but I did not succeed in my attempt. I then tried to apply Hilary Putnam's idea but it did not work either because the assumptions about the BIV experiment that I made were stronger than his. So, at this point I still cannot say to know that I am not a BIV. One possible way that remains to solve this question might be to ask whether or not computers could have a conscience because if they cannot, then, they would not be able to fulfil the requirements for making the BIV not feel that he is not a BIV. [...]

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