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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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Could 'cogito ergo sum' possibly be false?

I've heard it postulated by some people that "we can't truly know anything". While that does seem to apply to the vast majority of things, I can't see how 'cogito ergo sum' can possibly be false. ...
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Was mathematics invented or discovered?

What would it mean to say that mathematics was invented and how would this be different from saying mathematics was discovered? Is this even a serious philosophical question or just a meaningless/...
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Is the “omniscient-omnipotent-omnipresent” definition of God consistent?

God is commonly defined as an omniscient (infinite knowledge), omnipotent (unlimited power), omnipresent (present everywhere) entity. Is there any logical inconsistency in this definition? I have ...
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What are the more complex/interesting examples of synthetic a priori statements?

The usual examples of synthetic a priori statements are – it seems at least since Kant: "Nothing can be simultaneously red and green all over" 7 + 5 = 12 (or any other basic arithmetic statements). ...
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Did Kant come to believe that we have access to things-in-themselves after all?

Kant's position on things-in-themselves is often described Socratically, of them we know only one thing, that they are. However, in an old but apparently still popular history of philosophy book I ...
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Is it possible to know anything with certainty?

I have been thinking about objectivism vs relativism recently. It is easy to prove by contradiction that there exist objective truths. However, is it possible to know anything? If you assume a human ...
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How does one know one is not dreaming?

How does one know one is not dreaming? How could one logically demonstrate to a skeptic that one is "really" there, awake and not just dreaming the entire situation/world around him? Specifically ...
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If everything is theory laden, how can one argue against climate change deniers?

Per Quine's results from "Two Dogmas of Empiricism", the Duhem-Quine thesis, and later results such as those of Kuhn and Feyerabend, all empirical observations are theory laden. Even widely accepted ...
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What are examples of analytic a posteriori knowledge?

There is the analytic/synthetic distinction and the a priori/a posteriori distinction. These two distinctions form four types of knowledge: analytic a priori synthetic a priori analytic a posteriori ...
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How can an uneducated but rational person differentiate between science and religion?

I recently found myself unable to respond to the statement "But the big bang theory is just another creation myth!" during a science vs. religion argument. I found it very difficult to explain the ...
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4answers
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How can the physical world be an abstract mathematical structure?

This is Tegmark's short formulation of the "mathematical universe" (paraphrased by detractors as "reality made of math"), and he goes out of his way to stress that he means the "is" literally:"Whereas ...
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What basis do we have for certainty in current scientific theories?

Given there is much past scientific belief that we now know NOT to be true, what basis do we have for the seemingly increasing certainty in our scientific beliefs held today being true? On the one ...
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What is the relationship between philosophy and science?

While philosophy and science as held as separate disciplines (and often taught in completely different colleges within a university [i.e. College of Liberal Arts vs. College of Science]), it is ...
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Was Locke right that analytic knowledge is vacuous?

According to Locke, it is impossible to obtain substantive knowledge from analytic propositions. Statements like "triangle has three sides" are analytic, but one cannot derive the Pythagorean Theorem ...
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Why is Tarski's notion of logical validity preferred to deductive one?

Its flaws are well-known and serious. To recall, an inference from A to B is valid iff all interpretations of "non-logical constants" that make A true also make B true. What are interpretations, a.k.a....
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How did Kant define knowledge?

A recent question about the Plato's formula K=JTB (knowledge is justified true belief) made me curious as to what Kant thought on the matter. In the prefaces and the Introduction to the first Critique ...
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Do we know whether we know something?

Intuitively, it seems pretty obvious that, for a given proposition p, we know whether or not we know p. I am not sure how to express this more formally (e.g. as a property of the relevant epistemic ...
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7answers
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How would you know if nonobservable entities exist?

Nonphysical entities cannot be observed. Therefore such entities cannot be verified by observation. How could statements like "God exists" be even considered true? Why would anyone appeal to the ...
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2answers
280 views

Have any philosophers applied the concept of “underdetermination” to non-scientific contexts?

Most resources I've found on underdetermination approach the subject within the context of science. That's definitely a fascinating area of study, but I'd like to explore ways of applying ...
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To what extent do we choose our beliefs?

Are we free to choose our beliefs? Or is our belief in a proposition something that is thrust upon us by the weight of the evidence we have in favor and against the truth of it? For example, is it ...
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Can we prove reality?

I heard someone make an assertion that 'We cannot really prove that there is reality.'. 'Reality' here would mean the universe and everything in it. You could look at an apple and think its an apple ...
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Are there any philosophical arguments to disprove or weaken solipsism?

My philosophy professor once told our class: The only people who believe in solipsism are infants and madmen. I was inclined to agree at the time. Yet years later, I have still not encountered any ...
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6answers
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Are the unexamined lives of others worth examining?

Socrates continually admonished his interlocutors to become more introspective, arguing passionately for self-examination: The unexamined life is not worth living. But an examined life is painful, ...
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7answers
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Why is the Münchhausen trilemma an unsolved problem?

Why is the Münchhausen trilemma unsolved? Couldn't anybody find some reasons for proving/disproving it? Or are there other reasons for it being called "unsolved"? the trilemma If we ask of any ...
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2answers
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Is Science about Truth or Adequate Models?

Is it the general view amongst philosophers of science that science isn't about truth but rather adequately predictive models and therefore it doesn't make sense to speak of a scientific theory as ...
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How to justify the use of logic?

I would like to hear some Philosophical arguments which justify the use of logic. Additionally, if a justification of logic takes the form of an inference, this inference itself makes use of logic. ...
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What is the meaning of “There are questions that science can't answer”?

I've recently come across several statements to the effect "there are questions science can't answer", mostly from proponents of religion and mysticism, but also from scientists and secular ...
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Why does science carry so much weight in philosophy when it is highly fallacious?

Science works like this: We observe some phenomenon X. We form one or more hypothesis about what the relationship between X and something else might be. We evaluate the predictive power of the ...
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9answers
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Shouldn't fallibilism be a reason to abandon science?

The Wikipedia page on Fallibilism (currently) makes the intriguing claim that "Fallibilism is related to Pyrrhonistic Skepticism, in that Pyrrhonists of history are sometimes referred to as ...
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2answers
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Is it possible to use Wittgenstein's family resemblance approach to universals to separate high art from commercial art?

In a previous post, I asked whether it is possible to objectively compare the quality and validity of different pieces and forms of art. In the responses I got the overall response is that there is no ...
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Can “Gettier problems” be resolved by assuming JTB as the formal definition of truth? [closed]

What problems arise in responding to Gettier problems with an assertion "the formal definition of knowledge, as justified true belief, does not need to exactly correspond to intuitive notions of ...
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2answers
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How is the conflict between created by reason and external aspects of knowledge resolved?

Pragmatism is, roughly, the stressing of actions in talking about the content of knowledge. Externalism is, roughly, the stressing of dependence on the external public world in talking about ...
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Is Skepticism the most rational standpoint?

Is Philosophical Skepticism - the one that advocates true knowledge is impossible, the most rational standpoint? I am asking this based on the observation that there are very few things whose ...
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What is the difference between knowledge and belief?

Sometimes this image is used to explain what agnosticism is and how it's independent from belief: It makes some sense but I still have confusion understanding it. What is the difference between ...
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Is mathematics founded on beliefs and assumptions?

Note: I originally posted the question in meta.math.stackexchange.com but I reckon this would suit a more philosophical audience so I am posting it here. Background: I am a 28 year old ...
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9answers
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What is the term for the fallacy/strategy of ignoring logical reasoning intended to disprove a belief?

Updated 10/19/2018 -- Regards for all the responses. Much appreciated. To address the point of fact that one cannot "prove" anything about reality: Yes, I agree. This is the reason I now set my ...
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3answers
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Is the simulation hypothesis outside of science?

On the question of the simulation hypothesis (i.e. that reality is a simulation), a friend of mine once remarked he didn't accept it on the grounds of Ockham's razor. To me (with my admittedly ...
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7answers
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Please explain to a beginner: what is metaphysics?

As I understand it, most or all of philosophy can be put into the three main branches of philosophy: Epistemology, Metaphysics, and Axiology. A devotee of reason, I have great affinity for, and ...
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When can we call an explanation “rational”?

There are a lot of questions involving rational judgment, rational choice, rational explanation, etc... And at the same time, it seems that "being rational" is a guiding principle for a lot of people. ...
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3answers
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Is Deductive Reasoning Alien to the Material World?

A quick survey of literature: Goel V. Anatomy of deductive reasoning. Trends Cogn Sci. 2007 Oct https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2685028/ García-Madruga JA, Gutiérrez F, ...
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3answers
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Is Feyerabend confusing discovery and justification when he criticizes the scientific method?

I am reading Feyerabend's "Against Method", where he uses Copernicus's (and Galileo's confirmation) discovery of the fact that the Earth orbits around the Sun and other examples to show that ...
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In what fundamental ways, if any, does Husserl break with Kant?

I've read only slim secondary works on Husserl some time ago, and recently started "The Crisis in the European Sciences." So far, the framework seems faithfully Kantian. Husserl, for example, ...
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3answers
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What philosopher said that knowledge is about discerning differences?

I have heard that knowledge is discerning differences or to that effect. For example, if all things are the same such that there is no differentiating qualities, we can't really speak of anything ...
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1answer
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Is the problem of logical omniscience intractable?

Vincent Hendricks and John Symons notes the following about epistemic logic: Epistemic logic gets its start with the recognition that expressions like ‘knows that’ or ‘believes that’ have ...
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2answers
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Ought we only form beliefs based on sufficient empirical evidence?

In The Outsider Test for Faith, John Loftus often makes statements like: Faith, as I argue, is an irrational leap over the probabilities. Probabilities about such a matter are all that matter. We ...
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3answers
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What does “physical” mean to philosophers?

A childish question (literally) - My 8 year old asked me this morning: "Dad, what does 'physical' mean?" - and I found myself at loss for an ordinary language answer. Every answer I could come up ...
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1answer
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Does the Simulation Argument differ in essence from the Evil Genius puzzle?

I recently read an article that suggested we might be able to determine if we are part of a computer simulation run by our descendants. The idea seemed far-fetched, but after looking around, I see ...
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4answers
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What are the counterexamples to Kant's argument that existence is not a predicate?

Kant argued that considering existence as a predicate is wrong. A predicate is a feature or characteristic of an object. But logically, existence adds nothing to the characteristics of that object, ...
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Are humans becoming more hive-like? Does this have philosophical implications?

Have any philosophers taken up human hive-like behaviour and its implications? EO Wilson and others have outlined eusociality, a mode of group selection acting in addition to selection at the ...
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1answer
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How does Putnam reconcile having referents in language with rejection of realism?

Putnam is known for changing his mind often, but he seems to hold two views of linguistic meaning and reference simultaneously, combining which seems paradoxical. One is Quine's inscrutability of ...