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Questions tagged [epistemology]

Epistemology is the study of knowledge, acquisition thereof, and the justification of belief in a given claim.

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Who/What is the source of knowledge?

This question mostly pertains to physics and math, but I think it fits best on this site. I am not very familiar with philosophy, so I apologize if my question is not very formal. Essentially, the ...
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What arguments support the idea that rational thinking requires language use?

The idea that rationality has language as a necessary condition might be called, per Brandom, lingualism. What are the most popular arguments for this position? Why should we think that the way we ...
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Looking for a book to compliment Zammito and Mohanty in understanding the ethos of post positivistic realism

There are two books which I consider to be indispensable to an understanding of contemporary western culture’s post-truth/alternative facts (scientific and cultural post modernism/structuralism/...
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How should science approach non-empirical phenomena?

I am not talking about miracles, religious revelation, or artistic expression, but something more mundane. There is a lot of "empirical" evidence that the Riemann hypothesis is true, the scare quotes ...
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Can a non-falsifiable belief ever be justified (besides for tautologies)?

Probably thanks to Popper, a scientific theory would never be taken seriously if it wasn't as least in some way falsifiable. Without getting into the nitty-gritty of the many theories of justification,...
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Do limitations on computability and computational resources have any consequences for epistemology?

Do Turing undecidability and computational complexity considerations (NP-hardness, etc...) have consequences for epistemology? If X function or propostion is undecidable or requires an intractable ...
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What would it take in a book to convince a rational person that it had been written by or directly inspired by a god?

Many of the world's religions are based on a book or text that adherents claim to have been written by or directly inspired by a god, perhaps omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent. My question is ...
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What are the philosophical implications of Gödel's First Incompleteness Theorem?

Gödel's First Incompleteness Theorem states Any effectively generated theory capable of expressing elementary arithmetic cannot be both consistent and complete. In particular, for any ...
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Why aren't creationism and natural science on the same intellectual level?

In the infamous creation museum a strategically very shrewd exhibit, where a scientist and a biblical scholar both study the same fossils, is being presented: The sign says “different scientists ...
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Fundamental idea on proving God's existence with science

I think that proving God's existence or any deity from any culture with the rigors of science is fundamentally absurd. The popular arguments usually involve space-time and the big bang theory. (I ...
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What should philosophers know about math and natural sciences?

My question is whether a lack of knowledge about formal mathematics or theoretical science in general would have an impact on a philosopher's ability to think and make judgments. Why should a ...
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How does one tell apart left from right?

I can look at one hand and know (not necessarily immediately) that "This is my left hand". How do I know this? (How can I be so successful at judging this?) This question is inspired by the classic ...
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Is 1+1=2 true by definition ?

Is 1+1=2 true by definition ? Or, is there a way to prove it? I'm trying to understand how do we know it's true, and how to reply if someone is skeptical or denies that 1+1=2.
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Is God subject to logic?

If someone claims that God is beyond logic then how do we know he is beyond logic ? (as we lose all the methods to know whether the claim is true or not?) Logic is the use and study of valid reasoning,...
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What is the philosophy behind the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics?

Perhaps it is a stereotype, but I assumed that most physicists are empirical realists (external reality affects our senses, and science infers a representation of it from sensory data). At the same ...
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Is a proof still valid if only the author understands it?

Some time ago I was reading about the recent Shinichi Mochizuki's proof for the famous ABC conjecture. It's enormous and so incredibly difficult that at that time virtually nobody was able to ...
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Is scientism a self defeating epistemology?

Some who have argued against the validity of scientism have argued that the view that only science can uncover truth is not a scientific discovery but rather a epistemology. Hence it has been claimed ...
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Why should I believe my own conclusions?

Consider the metaphysical question of whether God exists (just as an example). There are, and have been throughout history, billions of atheists, billions of Christians, and billions of people with ...
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How does Kant assert existence of the noumena, if indeed he does?

According to Kant the thing-in-itself or noumena is strictly hidden from us and phenomena are conditioned by the categories of the mind such as time, space, causality amongst others. These categories ...
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Why is philosophy viewed as unnecessary, extra, by the common man?

This may be more of a sociology or psychology question as I do not mean "What is the point of philosophy today?" (You can find many related questions at my favorites.) Then what I mean is, how does ...
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Are all philosophers subject to a variation of the Socrates problem?

Obviously, the specific problem of knowing who Socrates was and what he taught is wholly unique to the man. However, reading books and articles about philosophers and philosophy, I'm struck by the ...
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Are we born with Kantian Categories?

Following this question; given that Kantian Categories are required to sythesise Concepts and for the conditions of experience; does this mean that we are born with them?
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When and why do we say that two things are the same?

In a preceeding question I have asked about the foundations of rational reasonning. It seems the concept of identity plays a key role. However "identity" is not observed in the real world: our mind ...
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Can we know the fundamental nature of space and time?

Can you please point me to an argument by a notable contemporary philosopher arguing why we may know the fundamental (metaphysical) nature of space and time? In a recent answer to a question I wrote ...
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Do theories come from observations or do they determine what is observed?

While re-reading Shimon Malin’s “Nature Loves to Hide” I was trying to get a better grasp of the distinction between Ernst Mach’s philosophy that theory comes from observable magnitudes alone and what ...
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What are the philosophical consequences of the undecidability of the spectral gap in quantum theory?

An article published in Nature yesterday proves that finding the spectral gap of a material based on a complete quantum level description of the material is undecidable (in the Turing sense). One of ...
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Was Aristotle an Empiricist?

When I was taught about Aristotle and Plato, the picture I got was very much like this image from a Raphael fresco: Usually Plato is said to be pointing to the heavens, which represent abstract Forms,...
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Can one prove a negative existential claim?

A major concern in epistemology is just what we can know about existential claims, that is, claims about the existence (or lack of) something. Suppose for example that I assert the following: The ...
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How does induction relate to falsifiability?

I was thinking about the question How can I know that I am not immortal? and started wondering about the relation between induction and falsifiability. Regarding the cited question, one thinks: well, ...
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Can a machine, lacking reflection, be a Person?

We are well beyond Frankenstein and the experience that the machine—“it’s alive”! As we continue to rely on Suri’s for GPS directions, “self”-checkout aisles, or the artificial intelligence of robotic ...
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Physics, Theoretical Understanding and the Limits of Human Knowledge/Understanding

During an interview with Discover magazine, Roger Penrose makes the claim that a lot of the most theoretical physics, a la the physical theories that try to account for the discrepancies and ...
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Existence of an Intelligible Physical World beyond the Mind [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Are there any philosophical arguments to disprove or weaken solipsism? What justification(s) exist for the generally-agreed-upon axiom that a physical world beyond our mind ...
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Why should we listen to Michel Foucault if he based his arguments on biased historical claims?

I have only recently heard about philosophical ideas of Michel Foucault from a friend of mine. His claims, those concerning madness for example, sound iconoclastic to me. After looking up some ...
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How do we know how to follow a rule?

This question seems to either be at the forefront or the background of countless philosophical enquiries. Much has been written on Wittgenstein's rule paradox (e.g. Kirke's Wittgenstein: On Rules and ...
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What are the relations between supervenience, grounding and emergence in philosophy of science?

So, I am wondering if anyone could help me with the notions of grounding (supervenience?) and emergence in the modern discussions in philosophy of science. What are they and what is the relation ...
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How long is the standard meter?

In the Philosophical Investigations §50, Wittgenstein writes: There is one thing of which one can say neither that it is one metre long, nor that it is not one metre long, and that is the ...
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Is any aspect of the supernatural testable? What level of proof is possible for the supernatural?

Assume the supernatural does exist, and consists of beings/forces that can interact with our natural universe in ways that are contrary to the natural laws of this universe (at least as we know them). ...
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which books or essays “Kuhn [1981]” is referred to?

I found a quote by Thomas Kuhn and the source reports: Kuhn [1981] but I cannot find that year in his bibliography . By googling "Kuhn [1981]" I found the following: What are Scientific ...
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Should we think twice about dualism?

With the rise of Materialism and Physicalism a dualistic ontology has fallen out of favor. The successes of Science makes makes us comfortable to deny any entity beyond the "Observable Universe". ...
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Is there any reason to believe that there are things which science cannot tell us?

Science can only tell us a posteriori synthetic truths, can this category extend to all propositions about the world. Surely the only things which can by known ONLY by a priori analytic are ...
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Are truth-claims inappropriate?

Strictly speaking, is it inappropriate to make a truth-claim? I am seeking an answer from Philosophy (Epistemology), and feel free to use logic I am speaking "theoretically", not "practically" I am ...
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Is it possible to be truly unbiased?

I was pondering this question: Inductive Argument Against Believing Anything I his argument, the OP suggests that, in the position of choosing a system of belief where there are multiple, large ...
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What are the similarities/differences between how Kant thinks 'noumenon' limits understanding compared to C.S. Peirce?

Kant stated in Critique of Pure Reason, pg. 273: What our understanding acquires through this concept of a noumenon, is a negative extension; that is to say, understanding is not limited through ...
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How do psychoanalysts like Freud and Lacan interpret the concept of “proof”?

How do psychoanalysts interpret the epistemological concept of "proof" in their theoretical work? Not necessarily of psychoanalysis.
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Is induction as a means to reach a conclusion rational?

According to Humes's argument, induction by its nature assumes a uniformity that is not justified. This is a very deep and interesting observation, and a point often used by the religious to justify ...
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Why should we believe other people, or scientists?

Looking for sourced answers or article references for this question, please. Why should someone believe another person's assertions? I would imagine that the answer is because most of the times when ...
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Do experiences need to be “real” to be worthwhile or desireable?

This is an offshoot of another discussion: Can "expected future happiness" be quantified, or at least ranked among alternative futures?, where both respondents brought up the concept of the ...
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Why does Hume raise the Missing Shade of Blue?

From reading this question on Hume, having read the first seven sections of the Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (which covers the relevant section), a further question hit me. Hume dismisses ...
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Is it possible for two different theories to describe nature correctly without one being reductible into the other?

I suppose the whole thing is already in the title but if I shed some light on the centre of my doubt... In the macroscopic world we tend to have our objects of study "right at hand" but when we start ...
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Can strong omnipotence be decomposed into logically possible and logically impossible aspects?

A lot of debate in the "omnipotent being" or "omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, omnibenevolent, etc." being debate revolves around the definition of the terms. I consider the "strong form" of ...