Like many other seventy-six year olds, I experience what we graciously call "senior moments." This morning, for example, while working with a graduate student research assistant on the materials for the eleventh edition of my textbook, ABOUT PHILOSOPHY, I could not call up the name of the well known literary critic Stanley Fish. Since she had an IPad with her, I told her to Google "student plagiarism moral issue" [I had recently read an Op Ed piece by him on the subject] and up he came. Now, if I had worked on it by myself for a while, I probably would have remembered his name. So I would, using traditional notions, be said to "know" that the name of the person whose Op Ed I read is Stanley Fish. But if I can conjure that name instantly using Google, can I not also be said to know it? Indeed, why can I not be said to know everything that I can find, and recognize when I find it, on the Internet? Ah, you say, but that piece of information is not in your mind. But my mind is not a physical body with a spatial circumference. Can I not be said to know the propositions that follow from premises I know by rules of inference that I also know? Why not? I do not now know the product of 763 and 419, but I know that I can calculate it by following the rules of multiplication.
All of this arose in the context of thinking about writing a little end-of-chapter Contemporary Application on student plagiarism and the use of the Internet.