Questions tagged [epistemology]

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

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190
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29answers
28k views

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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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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31answers
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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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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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12answers
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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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21answers
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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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17answers
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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 ...
42
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9answers
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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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12answers
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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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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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7answers
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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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4answers
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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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8answers
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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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Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence

"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." I think this statement raises some kind of epistemic problem. Like, how are we supposed to conclude the potential non-existence of something, like ...
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19answers
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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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14answers
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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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6answers
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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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2answers
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Why aren't pure apperception and empirical apperception structurally identical, even though they are functionally identical in Kant's Anthropology?

I can't be the only one who finds this strange. Section 7 of Anthropology from a Pragmatic Perspective, entitled "On Sensibility in contrast to understanding", reads as follows: In regard to the ...
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12answers
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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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5answers
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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8answers
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Which comes first - truth or provability?

When I'm thinking about mathematics, I usually imagine that every sentence in the language of arithmetic is either true or false, in reality. Thus, I imagine that truth comes first. Afterwards come ...
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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 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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7answers
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Is it possible for a layperson to suitably evaluate scientific disputes?

As a layperson, I try not to fall victim to the Dunning-Kruger effect. As an example, one area where I know that I am vulnerable is when biochemistry intersects with nutrition and disease. Is it ...
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1answer
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Does Alvin Plantinga's account of epistemic warrant require belief in God?

On Plantinga's account, true belief becomes knowledge under epistemic warrant; and epistemic warrant requires the 'proper functioning' of our cognitive faculties in the right kind of cognitive ...
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3answers
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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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3answers
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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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7answers
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How do animals think if they don't speak a language?

The way we humans think and reason involves us using words to describe things. Even when thinking in our heads, we use words to think. This begs the question, how do animals who don't understand a ...
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6answers
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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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2answers
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Are there any philosophers that argued for knowledge having intrinsic value?

Many (if not most) philosophers agree that knowledge has value. However, does it have intrinsic value, or is its value purely in its ability to affect things outside of the realm of knowledge? Are ...
15
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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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Can you suggest a good introduction on epistemology and also some criticism on them?

I bought Epistemology, by Richard Fumerton and Epistemology: A Contemporary Introduction, by Robert Audi. Can you suggest other titles and also some criticism on them?
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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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4answers
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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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If a person claims to know anything could it be disproven by saying 'prove that we are not in a simulation'?

Everyone starts out at 0 and if anyone wants to say that they know something they have to prove that claim. Is the counter to this person claiming that they know something logically correct? Person ...
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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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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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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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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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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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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 ...