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What is the definition of Epistemology?

The study of nature, origin and extent of human knowledge


What are the two types of knowledge?

  1. Performative Knowledge
  2. Propositional Knowledge


What are some characteristics of Performative Knowledge?

  1. It means that you know how to do things
  2. We are born with certain innate performative knowledge (to eat, etc.)
  3. Questions about truth DO NOT arise in performative knowledge


What are some characteristics of propositional knowledge?

  1. It means that you know that certain things...
  2. There are different takes on whether or not there is innate propositional knowledge
  3. Questions about truth DO arise in propositional knowledge


What are the two types of propositional knowledge?

  1. A priori knowledge
    • Not justified by experience, but by reason alone
  2. A posteriori knowledge
    • Justified by experience


What is the traditional analysis of propositional knowledge?

S knows that P if and only if,

  • S believes that P
  • S is justified in believing that P, and
  • P is true


There are three conditions: belief, justification and truth.


What is the belief condition?

  • Is it possible to know something that something that you do NOT believe?

    • No.
  • What is belief?
    • S believes that P if and only if S thinks that P true
  • Belief IS a necessary condition for knowledge.


What is the justification condition?

  • Justification = sufficient (good enough) reasons
    • Personal experience

    • Expert testimony

    • Authority

    • Textbooks

    • Accepted history, theories, facts

  • Justification IS a necessary condition for knowledge.


What are the three conceptions of truth?

  1. Subjectivist (me)

    • The specific individual

    1. What true for me is for me, and you you

  2. Relativist (we)

    • Relativise to a particular society or group

  3. Objectivist (the)
    • There is some fact to the matter that allows us to settle


Who was Bertrand Russell?

  • Longest lived philosophy

  • British

  • Cambridge University

  • Prolific writer

  • Pacifist    


What did Bertrand Russell thought about truth?

  • How is knowledge of truth and knowledge of things different?

    • We can’t be wrong about how things seems to us

    • We can be wrong about how things are

  • Truth bearers & Truth-bearing

    • Belief + Statements

      • No one’s ever seen a belief or a statement

      • These are truth-bearers.

    • What are the kinds of things that are bearers of truth?

      • Declarative sentence; meaning

      • In the absence of belief and statements, truth will not exist in the world.

        • Truth is a property of beliefs and statements


What are the three requisites for a theory of truth?

  1. “Our theory of truth must be such as to admit of its opposite, falsehood”

  2. Truth and falsehood need to be based on belief and statements

  3. It depends upon something which lies outside the belief


What are some theories of truth?

  1. Coherence Theory

  2. Correspondence Theory


In what consists the Coherence Theory of truth?

  • “A belief is true when it coheres with the body of our others beliefs”


What is the difficulty of the Coherence Theory of truth?

  • There’s no reason to suppose there’s only one body of beliefs

  • The coherence theory presupposes the law of non-contradiction

    • “A statement cannot be both true and false at the same time”

  • Coherence = consistency ≠ truth, therefore coherence ≠ truth


In what consists the Correspondence Theory of truth?

  • The thing you need to look at outside, is the world = the fact


What is a fact?

  • An associated complex of some state of affairs in the world
  • It is NOT the statement expressing the state of affairs, it IS the state of affairs
  • Correspondence with fact as constituting the nature of truth.


What were some characteristics of the Modern Period?

  1. Renaissance: revival on “old learning” gave way to innovation in technology, painting and music

  2. Growing dissatisfaction with the church, reformation; counterreformation

  3. Exploration and expansion

  4. Dissatisfaction with scholasticism; in particular, Aristotelianism came to be viewed as confining, dogmatic or simply wrong

  5. Skepticism about philosophy and theology (conflicting “truths”)

  6. Rise of science and the value of the scientific method (observation and experimentation)


What were the major epistemic views of the Modern Period?

  1. Rationalism
  2. Empiricism


In what did Rationalism consist?

  1. The epistemological view that reason (not experience) is the fundamental means of gaining knowledge

  2. Method - deduction

  3. Knowledge requires certainty - yes

  4. Innate ideas - yes


In what did Empiricism consist?

  • That experience (not reason alone) is the fundamental means of gaining knowledge

  • Method - science

  • Knowledge requires certainty - no

  • Innate ideas - no (Locke: tabula rasa)


Who was Rene Descartes?

  • Father of modern philosophy

  • Modern philosophy began with his doubt about the nature and extent of human knowledge and his defense of dualism

  • Rationalist

  • Scientist (optics, physiology)

  • Mathematician: invented analytic geometry


What are the six meditations of Descartes's Meditations on First Philosophy?

  1. On doubt, attack on the senses

  2. He exists, he is “thinking substance”; dualism

  3. On ideas; God exists

  4. “Clear and distinct” ideas are true

  5. Nature of corporeal bodies; God exists

  6. Dualism


What was Descartes aim in his Meditations?

  1. To discover a foundation for knowledge, which is something about which one must be certain

  2. To be certain about something means that it must be impossible to doubt


What was Descartes method in his Meditations?

  1. Cartesian Doubt

    • Use reason to methodologically doubt absolutely everything which we cannot know with certainty

    • He’s not trying to show that all his former opinions were false

      • But that through this doubt he can discover something which cannot be doubted


What was Descartes' first meditation about?

  • An attack on the senses
    • It is possible to doubt the ideas that you get from your senses
    • Since the conclusions of physics, astronomy, medicine, etc., do not follow with certainty, neither they, nor the senses upon which such pursuits depend, yield truths.


What was Descartes' second meditation about?

  • "I am, I exist" is impossible to doubt
    • This becomes the foundation for his epistemology
  • What is he not?
    • He can doubt that he is a man, for this relies on the senses
    • He is not a body, for that is a material substance
  • What is he?
    • a thing that thinks, a thinking substance
    • Thought is the attribute that really belongs to him


Who was John Locke?

  • First of the three “british empiricist”

  • Academic

  • Ecomonic writer

  • Political activist


What was the purpose of Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding?

  1. "To enquire into the original, certainty, and extent of human knowledge; together with the grounds and degrees of belief, opinion and assent"


What was John Locke's method in his Essay?

  • Identifying the origin and types of ideas that we posses

  • Identifying the means by which our ideas give us knowledge, as well as its extent

  • What grounds we have for faith