I've been reading into epistemology a little bit but struggling to understand the distinction between accuracy, certainty and to find a definition for either. In particular, it seems that accuracy is held to be synonymous with truth in epistemology, although I am not sure whether this is correct. Would the definition of truth not be shifting as the perspective shifts? And the same with accuracy? Would they also not always be synonymous, for example, something can be true but not accurate. One example used by Maverick Philosopher 'Kennedy was shot' is true but not accurate, whilst, 'Kennedy was shot by Oswald on the 22nd of November, 1963' is both true and accurate.

On the other hand, if we consider our knowledge of the world, would the definition of accuracy not be completely different, as in, how accurate is our knowledge of the world.

Also, another question I had, are all true statements facts? It seems pretty out there that a fact can be untrue as it is the nature of a fact in itself. Also, would the idea of accuracy here come into play to, like how accurate is a fact?



1 Answer 1


Awesome questions!

I'm going to suggest something important whenever thinking about philosophy in general, but especially when studying epistemology; don't get bogged down in wordage.

Epistemology is about trying to understand knowledge, not splitting hairs about word definitions. & you've hit it on the head, because this issue of words and their meaning is a truly problematic part of philosophy that can create so much confusion between philosophers and between philosophers and students.

What we can do is assume that words mean varying degrees of different things.. to different people.. at different times. There is no objective definition of a word, because we don't learn language by reading the dictionary, we learn it by hearing others speak and use words.

As Wittgenstein would say; Philosophy is an activity of clarification and a critique of language. Words get their meaning by their usage. The meaning of words isn't some objective concrete thing located somewhere apart from us, words are fluid, their meanings change based on what we're trying to communicate with them. Essentially, what this shows us is that even though we often think of our language as being so complex and specific, we actually really just use a few tools(words) to accomplish all kinds of tasks(expressions of meaning).

Wittgenstein’s rejection of general explanations, and definitions based on sufficient and necessary conditions, is best pronounced. Instead of these symptoms of the philosopher’s “craving for generality”, he points to ‘family resemblance’ as the more suitable analogy for the means of connecting particular uses of the same word. There is no reason to look, as we have done traditionally—and dogmatically—for one, essential core in which the meaning of a word is located and which is, therefore, common to all uses of that word. We should, instead, travel with the word’s uses through “a complicated network of similarities overlapping and criss-crossing” (PI 66). Family resemblance also serves to exhibit the lack of boundaries and the distance from exactness that characterize different uses of the same concept. Such boundaries and exactness are the definitive traits of form—be it Platonic form, Aristotelian form, or the general form of a proposition adumbrated in the Tractatus. It is from such forms that applications of concepts can be deduced, but this is precisely what Wittgenstein now eschews in favor of appeal to similarity of a kind with family resemblance.

  • Is the last portion of your answer meant as a quote? Please give the reference if it is. May 21, 2017 at 1:46

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