Philosophy Index

Edmund Gettier

Edmund L. Gettier III (1927– ) is an American philosopher and professor. He is best known for his contribution to epistemology.

Gettier is best known for a very short but surprisingly groundbreaking article, “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?”. In this article, he presents what would become known as the Gettier counterexamples, which challenged the accepted definition of knowledge. Since Plato, philosophers have generally considered knowledge to be justified true belief. The counterexamples presented by Gettier are those of beliefs that seem to have justification in their belief, and inferences based on those beliefs which turn out to be true by some degree of chance.

The Gettier counterexamples sparked a renewed interest in epistemology and a new question of epistemic luck, as many began the attempt to either save the defininition of knowledge from Gettier, or expand it. Others, still, have found further counterexamples which question further the definition of knowledge.

Gettier taught at Wayne State University from 1957 until 1967, when he moved to the University of Massachusettes at Amherst, where he remains as a Professor Emeritus.

Selected Works

  • Is Justified True Belief Knowledge? (1963)


Name: Edmund Gettier
Born: 1927
Degrees: Ph.D. (Cornell, 1961)