Questions tagged [epistemology]

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

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Can reason defend itself without resort to reason?

I recently read, "Reason can't defend itself without resort to reason." Is this universally true?
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Is Knowledge Fallible?

Consider the claim that we knew that Earth was flat. The aforementioned claim seems counter-intuitive, at first glance; and false in accordance with the definition of "knowledge" as "justified true ...
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Are all sufficient conditions necessary?

If X is the necessary condition of A, then it doesn't follow that X is sufficient. However, if X were a sufficient condition, would it also follow that X is a necessary condition? Put otherwise, is a ...
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What is the role of public intellectual/philosopher in “post truth” world?

The Oxford English Dictionary recently named ‘post- truth’ its word of the year. The term, whose use is said to have increased 2000% in the past year, is defined as: “…relating to or denoting ...
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How can we know that we're thinking?

How can we know there isn't an illusion of thought? This question stems from Descartes' assertion of "I think, therefor I am." He regards the notion that he thinks as an absolute fact. But how does ...
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What is a straight line?

I am not a philosopher; I am an engineer with a reasonable grasp of mathematics. This question has been bothering me for a long time, and I have asked a variation of it to a mathematical community. ...
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Is a language its dictionary?

A dictionary defines words in a language, in terms of other words in that same language. An English dictionary is not the same as a Spanish dictionary, simply because the sets of English words and ...
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What are some methods of defining things?

In my experience, many definitions define an object/idea by merely listing it's characteristics. For example: Avocado a large, usually pear-shaped fruit having green to blackish skin, a single ...
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Can a lack of knowledge or understanding invalidate a positive claim?

Consider the example of causal determinism. It can be phrased in many ways, all with identical meaning: - The idea that "every event, including human cognition and behavior, decision and action, is ...
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What epistemological systems effectively handle the infinite regress?

I have been following apologetics for quite some time and have run into many claims that certain epistemological methods typically associated with non-theism (for example, empiricism and logical ...
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Are Methodological Assumptions of StackExchange Fundamentally Flawed?

I looked here for an answer while writing a paper on evidence and scientific inference. I then saw the bold claims made by the website that the process goes as follows: Anybody can ask a question ...
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Is Galileo's argument about falling bodies logically flawed?

Galileo's famous argument against the Aristotle's theory of falling bodies goes like this. "Let's say heavy objects do fall faster than light ones. Then it seems the heavier weight will fall with the ...
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Is the space we live in continuous (as mathematically defined) or quantized?

Let me start with stating my definitions in measuring the length of objects: The way to measure an object properly is to measure it when it's static. So take the ultra resolution (which can describe ...
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Do any philosophers disagree with Occam's razor?

I never bought into the razor. For example, if I have two hypotheses A and B with equal evidence, the razor would have me pick the simpler one. But personally in my mind, I create a sort of credence-...
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What are the criteria for existence?

What are the criteria for existence, i.e. the answer to "what exists and what doesn't exist?" in modern schools of philosophy? My trial: Something exists if and only if it can affect our senses, ...
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Difference between Science and Arts

"Science provides an understanding of a universal experience. Arts provide a universal understanding of a personal experience." Mae Jemison Here is what Mae Jemison's says about her claim (source): ...
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How does a realist account for causation between universals and particulars?

With respect to universals nominalists maintain that there are no universals and only particulars exists. Conversely, realists says that there are universals. Here is a sketch of an argument against ...
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Do machine learning algorithms have knowledge?

By "machine learning algorithm" I'm referring to basic, primarily statistical, machine learning algorithms; for concrete examples consider simple classifier algorithms like SVM or Bayesian classifier ...
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Why distrust our senses?

It seems self-evident that the phenomena we sense are accurate and correlate to the real world. What sorts of philosophical arguments might cast doubt on this conviction in the veridicality of ...
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Can we justify anything without resorting to 'a priori' truths?

Without a clear answer to the infinite regress problem, can we justify anything without resorting to 'a priori' truths? And if not, how is there a reliable standard for testing the validity of a ...
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Is the anthropic principle in physics falsifiable?

The Anthropic Principle states that the fundamental physics of the universe must allow the possibility of conscious life in the universe - as that is an observable fact. It's often qualified as ...
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A Kantian view on modern physics

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica article on Immanuel Kant, in the section discussing the Critique of pure reason: In the Transcendental Analytic, the most crucial as well as the most ...
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Epistemological vs. Ontological claims

I'm taking an introductory philosophy course and I find it fascinating. I can't really figure out an assignment though (I'm a bit foggy on what the difference between ontological and epistemological ...
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“I trust my senses” — Why does this tend to be restricted to the external senses?

I routinely come across mini-epistemologies that start with something like: Cogito ergo sum. (presupposes "I", oops!) My senses are sufficiently reliable. These days, it is often admitted that we ...
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On the difference between “knowing” and “understanding”?

Intuitively, there is a clear difference between knowing something and understanding something. We speak of someone 'getting' or 'internalizing' a concept, of developing a 'gut feeling' for something, ...
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What are the critiques of the “we might as well assume it” solution to the problem of induction?

I'm curious whether the following proposed solution to the problem of induction has ever been discussed in the literature: Either the future resembles the past or it does not resemble the past. If it ...
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What would you call a counterfactual theory of Justified True Belief?

Ever since I heard the characterization of knowledge as justified true belief, the proper meaning of the word "justified" has always seemed clear to me: it should mean that you acquired the belief in ...
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What makes a basic belief a properly basic belief?

I'm currently looking into Plantinga's reformed epistemology and I'm trying to wrap my head around what makes a basic belief a properly basic belief. I understand what a basic belief is, in that it ...
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Is there a known limit to relationship between physics and mathematics?

I am much interested in discussions such as Wigner's "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences". It's quite amazing that mathematics so well applies to our universe, and ...
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Is color actually intrinsic to the object?

I've always been of the view that color is essentially a human representation. That is, the production of the sensation of color is done in the brain and the particular wavelengths of light have ...
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Is science possible in a world where a god acts?

Consider a world equipped with a god; and this god from time to time at his convenience and no other, acts in the world; and then too, that those beings who live in the world see these acts as ...
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Is math independent of our sensory experience?

I've been asking myself this and other questions in the field of philosophy of mathematics. Could we, if we were isolated from any kind of sensory experience, be able to learn mathematics? This ...
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Can there be information without a “knower”?

I am trying to wrap my head around the principle of conservation of information as formulated by Leonard Susskind and others, which seems to me at first glance to be incompatible with the 2nd law of ...
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Could a philosophical zombie conclude “cogito ergo sum”?

Could a philosophical zombie conclude "cogito ergo sum"? Assume a philosophical zombie which is a hypothetical being that is indistinguishable from a normal human being except in that it lacks ...
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Do all sciences use the same fundamental approach - the scientific method?

Even so I admit that the statement "All sciences use the same fundamental approach - the scientific method" may be true or false, it is not obvious to me whether it is actually true or false. I ...
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Is extra-sensory perception considered a valid source of knowledge in any Western branch of philosophy?

I have read that some Eastern philosophies, such as Buddhist philosophy, have considered extra-sensory perception (as attained through meditation), a valid source of knowledge. For example, the Buddha ...
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How are epistemological and ontological realism related?

The SEP article on idealism begins: ... [this article] examines the relationship between epistemological idealism (the view that the contents of human knowledge are ineluctably determined by ...
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How do laws of nature enforce themselves?

The Humean view prevailing today is that laws of nature are mere regularities of the empirical events. However, there seems to be a difference between post factum regularities, like the Titius-Bode ...
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How can intuitions be infallible?

I happen to come across the theory that intuitions are infallible, therefore whatever we intuit must be true. How is this rational at all? Our intuitions do not come from experience, so we really can ...
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Is the concept of “knowledge” important for philosophy?

I learned the definition of “knowledge” of justified true belief. I wonder whether it is important in any branch of philosophy? If I think about information per se, this boils down to technical ...
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Does Wittgenstein's Tractatus establish serious bounds for discussions of the supernatural from a modern point of view?

In today's mathematics, we have many variants of logic (propositional, first order, higher order, fuzzy logic, etc.). These are all self-consistent formal systems that are based on some set of axioms. ...
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Epistemic justification - 'turtles all the way down'?

There's an age old problem (though I'm not sure of it's age exactly) regarding epistemic justification: how can I be justified in anything that I know to be true, even a principle as basic as modus ...
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Claims that we know (virtually) nothing - can they be refuted?

Here's an argument that I've heard a number of times from friends and on the Internet: "The ratio of what we know about the universe to what we have yet to discover is so small - it is therefore ...
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Could there ever be evidence for an infinite being?

The God of Anselm is understood as "that than which nothing greater can be conceived." From this definition, God can be presumed to be omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, perfectly free, uncaused, ...
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What was Einstein's contribution to philosophy?

Daniel Dennett, in a lecture abut Darwin, mentions Newton, Darwin, Skinner, Turing, Gödel, and Einstein as 6 "non-philosophers" who have had a major impact on philosophy. I can see how the other 5 had ...
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Is Chomskys universal grammar synthetic a priori?

Chomskys notion of a universal grammar is his way of comprehending that human languages appear to have a deep grammar, and that children appear to learn language as though they are primed for it. It ...
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Are all subjective impressions qualia?

In other words, is it possible to claim that sentiments, emotions, and experiences influence people to have different subjective impressions of a picture without affirming the existence of qualia?
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Memory and self

How do I know that the subject of my memories and me are the same person? I have a memory of waking up this morning. How do I know that the subject who woke up and the subject remembering it are the ...
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Did Aristotle know about non-empirical science?

In Aristotles' Metaphysics the following can be read: Met. I 981a: […] αποβαίνει δ` ἐπιστήμη καὶ τέχνη διὰ τῆς ἐμπειρίας τοῖς ἀνθρώποις. […] but really science and art come to men through ...
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What is the contrast between Hume's and Locke's philosophies of science?

I'm writing an essay on Hume and was hoping to contrast his empiricism to Locke's in it. I have come across a commentary, which doesn't go into great depth; could someone explain it in a little ...