Knowledge and True Belief at Theaetetus 201a–c

Tamer Nawar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines a passage in the Theaetetus (201a–c) where Plato distinguishes knowledge from true belief by appealing to the example of a jury hearing a case. While the jurors may have true belief, Socrates puts forward two reasons why they cannot achieve knowledge. The reasons for this nescience have typically been taken to be in tension with each other (most notably by Myles Burnyeat). This paper proposes a solution to the putative difficulty by arguing that what links the two cases of nescience is that in neither case do the jurors act from an epistemic virtue and that doing so is a necessary condition of knowledge. Appreciating that it is a necessary condition of knowledge that it be the result of an epistemic agent's agency in a distinctive way provides a satisfying solution to the difficulty Burnyeat detected and also does justice to an otherwise neglected aspect of Plato's epistemology: his talk of cognitive capacities and virtues and his focus on what it is that is active and passive in epistemic processes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1052-1070
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal for the History of Philosophy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Plato
  • Epistemology
  • Theaetetus
  • Knowledge
  • True Belief
  • Jury
  • Perception
  • Testimony

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