Thursday, August 28, 2014

a fallibilist intuition pump.

A firing squad comprising 20 riflemen takes aim at a convicted criminal sentenced to death.  Of the twenty, 19 have loaded their guns with a live round, while one of them has loaded his gun with a blank.  Each sharpshooter is aware of this fact, but none are told whether he’s the one with the blank. On command, the firing squad unloads a volley of 19 bullets, all of which hit the condemned man.  Each shooter believes that he’s shot the man—after all, there’s a 95% chance that he has.  Thus, we have a scenario in which 20 persons rightly believe that he’s shot a man.  19 have a true belief and one has a false belief.  It seems that 19 shooters know that they shot the convict, and this despite the fact that their evidence for believing they shot him is consistent with their belief being false. 


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