Read Part I here.
Till now we have quoted actual mistakes made in the past. But possible mistakes will do just as well. An imaginary example can be one where I make a judgment about an imaginary action to be good. So much so that this judgement is universalizable and can be applied on relevantly similar cases. Now, an imaginary case in which I would claim to know p, where p is false would prevent me from making a claim about knowing p which is relevantly similar. So imaginary cases are as much under the domain of this argument as actual ones.
The argument that we have now reached (imaginary cases) provides a complex defence of ‘Brains in Vats’ argument. This argument seems to show that the imaginary case in which I am a brain in a vat being fed the experience of playing hockey is perfectly effective in showing that I do not know whether I am actually playing hockey or not. The first argument shows that I do know anything of which I claim to know for if it was the case then I wouldn’t be a brain in the vat. The second argument shows that since I have made actual mistakes in the past and am capable of making them in imaginary cases too, I cannot claim to know anything. Both the arguments chart a different route to the same destination- I cannot claim to know anything.
In conclusion, we shall ask ourselves how strong is the skepticism created by ‘The Argument from Error’. Since I am bound to commit errors in all areas, this argument is more global than local. As far as justified belief is concerned, we will have to trace our steps back to the ‘Brains in Vats’ argument. If nothing I have can count as evidence that I am not a brain in the vat then my belief that I am not one is not justified. Similarly, if nothing I have can count as evidence that the present case is not like previous ones where I have made errors, then my belief that the judgement made by me in the present case is correct is not justified. Therefore, ‘The Argument from Error’ attacks justified belief as much as it attacks knowledge and more than ‘Brains in Vats’ argument since the former is more global than the latter. However, ‘The Argument from Error’ leaves our understanding untouched even in absence of justified belief because one needs understanding in order to get what the skeptic’s argument is.