Thinktank epistemology

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Text of Thinktank epistemology

  • 1. How do you KNOW ?
  • 2. What is knowledge ? Can we know ?
  • 3. How does something go from being merely a belief to acquiring the status of knowledge ?
  • 4. Belief - an opinion, conviction, confidence, or trust Knowledge - justified true belief
  • 5.
    • Only when we have provided warrant for our beliefs can we avoid changing our minds irrationally or believing irresponsibly .
  • 6.
    • Only when human beings take seriously the responsibility of providing warrant and when they are sensitive to the objections of others can genuine criticism and honest dialog take place.
  • 7.
    • But what counts as warrant for an assertion or belief?
  • 8.
    • definition:
    • Warrant - ground, justification, confirmation, proof.
  • 9.
    • We all know dogmatists who are more concerned about holding their opinions than about investigating their truth. (My mind is made up, dont confuse me with the facts.)
    • The worst feature of the dogmatists malady is that if they are mistaken, they will never discover it; they have condemned themselves to perpetual error. Too often we believe what we want to be true.
  • 10.
    • Dogmatist - characterized by or given to the expression of opinions very strongly or positively as if they were facts.
  • 11.
    • Philosophy
    • Metaphysics- nature of reality
    • Epistemology - how we know
    • Ethics- morals
    • Aesthetics- beauty, art
  • 12. Illustration: Bill Mahrers Religulous mockumentary (7:00 to end-0:00 to 04:10). Concepts introduced in video: 1. Christian man (dogmatist) who walks out 2. Shroud of Turin 3. Doubt vs. Certainty 4. Christian vs. Christ-like 5. Virgin Birth in only two Gospels 6. Praying for Bill even after all his rebukes
  • 13. definition: Foundationalism- holds that though many beliefs are based on other beliefs, some beliefs must be held in a basic or foundational manner in order to avoid an infinite regress of beliefs.
  • 14. definition: Coherentism- holds that the justification for beliefs consists in the relations among the beliefs. A coherentist thus typically denies that there are any special propositions that are basic or foundational . Rather the structure of beliefs is like a web in which some beliefs are more central than others but in which some beliefs give mutual support to others as part of a network .
  • 15. Foundationalism - starting point beliefs that cant be proven but are assumed. Coherentism- a network of beliefs.
  • 16. Coherent- holding together
  • 17.
    • Foundational or Traditional Epistemologies:
    • Rationalism
    • Empiricism
    • Subjectivism
    • Mixed views
    • Holy Spirit (Reformed Epistemology)
  • 18.
    • Rationalism: reason is the foundation.
    • Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz.
    • Begin with self-evident truths, build from there mainly by logical deduction.
    • Mathematical model.
    • Distinct from sensation and memory.
  • 19. definition: Reason - the faculty or power that allows humans to think or deliberate, to see the connections between propositions and draw proper inferences .
  • 20. definition: Inferences - conclusions or judgments derived by reasoning from premises or evidence.
  • 21. Rationalist versions of foundationalism hold that foundational beliefs must be self-evidently true . Example: 2+2=4
  • 22.
    • The attractiveness of pure rationalism lies in its claim to provide warrant which is, so to speak, airtight; it promises absolute logical certainty.
  • 23.
    • Problem : Genuinely certain starting points are pretty elusive , and those we can find are utterly skimpy . The rationalist has taken an important procedure, deductive logic, and made what turns out to be unrealistic claims for it.
    • Our criticisms should not blind us to the significance of deductive elaboration in mathematics, symbolic logic, and as a control in thinking and argument.
  • 24.
    • definition:
    • Deductive Argument- A chain of reasoning in which a series of premises, if true, are supposed necessarily to imply the truth of another proposition (the conclusion) by virtue of certain logical principles or rules of inference.
  • 25.
    • 2a. Empiricism : Sense experience is the foundation:
    • Locke, Berkeley, Hume.
  • 26. 2b. Empiricism - the faculty or power that allows humans to think or deliberate, to see the connections between sense experience and draw proper inferences .
  • 27. Empiricist versions of foundationalism only accept propositions that are incorrigible because they are evident to the senses as possessing the requisite degree of certainty .
  • 28. definition: Incorrigible- incapable of being corrected or amended. definition: Proposition- an expression of something that can be believed, doubted, or denied or is either true or false
  • 29.
    • Close connection between Empiricism and the Scientific Method.
    • The Oxford English Dictionary says that scientific method is: "a method of procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation , measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses."
  • 30.
    • Problem: We do not unambiguously read the meaning of an event off the face of experience. We may seem to do so because we see the world through the spectacles of our interpretive framework, but we never seem to be able to claim that we have the uninterpreted facts while someone else is experiencing things in a prejudiced way.
  • 31.
    • Problem: How a scientist sees the world is no more a matter of veridical observation in any absolute sense, than is the way a culture-bound person sees the world that is unique to his frame of reference.
    • What is taken as self-evident seems to be something that the perceiver brings to the experience, at least in some important sense.
  • 32.
    • 3a. Subjectivism : no objective truth, only truth for me.
    • Skeptics, Existentialists, Postmodernists.
  • 33. definitions: Skeptic - deny there is genuine human knowledge. Existentialist - human existence constituted by choices people make. Stress the responsibility of the individual to define himself/herself through action. Postmodern - characterized by a suspicion of metanarratives, and an emphasis on the uncertain character of human knowing.
  • 34. 3b. Intuition - may be defined as understanding or knowing without conscious recourse to thought, observation or reason.
  • 35.
    • Problem: Same as that of empiricism.
  • 36. 4. Mixed views
  • 37. 5. Holy Spirit (Reformed Epistemology)- The idea that belief in God may be properly basic and does not have to be based on external evidence becau