A run down on what "Epistemology" is

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Reply Mon 30 Mar, 2009 08:09 am
General point of epistemology

"Epistemology" is the study of knowledge. Many philosophers take it to be the investigation into the conditions for knowledge. Some think those conditions are largely psychological in nature.

When we speak of "knowledge" in Epistemology, we mean knowledge-that knowledge. We mean "propositional knowledge." Propositional knowledge covers a wide range of propositions, some mundane (like "You are wearing a hat right now") to scientific (like "The universe consists of X subatomic particles") to extramundane (like "God is the supreme creator of the Universe").

In analyzing such propositions, we map them to the definition of knowledge (provided below).

"Epistem-ology"

"Episteme" translates to, from the Greek, "knowledge." "-ology" means "study" or "reason" or "science" (it is derivative on "logos").

It's important to note that "knowledge-how" is related to the Greek "techne." These two classes of knowledge firmly exclude one another. I might know how to ride a bike without knowing any proposition about bikes nor might I even know what to tell you to help you ride one. This kind of knowledge is unrelated to the definition so given.

Knowledge is different from belief

Look, when someone says "I know that you are happy right now" they are saying something, raising the epistemic bar, so to speak, quite different from "I believe that you are happy right now".

If the former, you might be skeptical and ask for justification or you might say "No, no, the truth of the matter is thus."

If the latter, you very likely will not ask for justification. You might just brush it off with some cliche like "To each his own" or "So many heads, so many opinions."

In a word, knowledge is stronger than belief. It is essential that you understand their relation. Knowledge, knowledge-that in this case, presupposes belief. It is essential that you understand what "presupposition" means.

Knowledge presupposes justification, belief, and truth. In this way, in this sentence, we mean more-than-just plausible justification or evidence, genuine belief, true statements. Knowledge would not presuppose insincere beliefs, unconvincing evidence or falsehoods. Just think about it; that's silly.

What we mean when we say that we know

This issue here is NOT--I REPEAT NOT--just about predicating knowledge to someone. It is not just about saying "Oh he knows", though predication is very important and factors in. This is not just about watching TV and applying the definition to the people on the screen. It is the definition of knowledge, not just the grounds for ascription. Imagine someone you've never met before and will never meet. You have no character profile of this person. This person is faceless and has no identity but more or less can apply reason and thought. Think about the bare minimum this person can know, given the right resources and evidence and charitability.

Knowledge defined

S knows that p if and only if[INDENT] S believes that p (belief condition) if and only if[INDENT] S thinks that p is true

S acquires the belief that p in a causally appropriate way (normative principle of belief formation)
[/INDENT]S has evidence to believe that p (justification condition) if and only if[INDENT] Ceteris paribus, Any at least human rational being Sn would accept the evidence given

(Non-)evidentiary justification, E, is criticism-free
[/INDENT]p is true (truth condition) if and only if[INDENT] p is worthy of being asserted (normative operational principle and weak verificationist constraint on assertibility) if and only if[INDENT] p is consistent with reality (correspondence theory)

p coheres with a field of relevant beliefs (coherence theory)

p is pragmatically-constrained (pragmatic theory)
[/INDENT][/INDENT][/INDENT]Note: Consider the no-theory theory of truth in the definition of truth.

Other relevant definitions

"Objective" =def mind-independent

"True for" =def believes for oneself (non-knowledge context; idiomatic use of "is true"); more akin to "is genuine" or "prefers" ("That's true for me"-Translation: "I prefer it thus and so").

"Subjective truth" =def As is clear by "true for," this term is idiomatic; in some cases it is fruitful to point out that it is a contradiction in terms, if the person means to argue about "truth" in the knowledge-that or knowledge context sense)

"Subjective" =def mind-dependent (Whether or not the cat is on the mat is true does not depend purely on the status of my mind or your mind. Thus, there is a class of entities which can be true regardless of the status of one's or anyone's mind. (Refutation to "Global Relativized Truth"; not that anyone really assents to this bogus notion.)

"Inter-subjective" =def consensus (not convention or norm or nonvolitional agreement) That we all wear jeans is not an inter-subjective truth (this is a convention or a social norm); that we all more or less accept that the sky is blue makes this proposition an inter-subjective truth (though some of us may not be able to supply a scientifically convincing explanation at any given time).

"Statement" =def Stronger than grammatical declarative; or, as the joke goes, grammarians would be omniscient. ("The square root of my dog is pleased" or "The numbers are angry" or "God is a turnip every Wednesday at 8′o clock"-examples of nonsense, they are pseudo-statements, but nevertheless declarative-grammatical.) Record of a fact that stands the test of the logico-grammatical form.

"Proposition" =def That which is expressed by the statement. "Il pleut aujourd'hui" and "It is raining today" are both statements which express the proposition that it is raining. "p" in the literature is usually substitutable with logico-grammatical statements, and "p" is called a propositional variable.
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Mon 30 Mar, 2009 09:14 am
@nerdfiles,
Thanks for the run down.
 
nerdfiles
 
Reply Mon 30 Mar, 2009 09:37 am
@nerdfiles,
I agree. Edited.
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Mon 30 Mar, 2009 12:48 pm
@nerdfiles,
I'm all down with this post except for some concerns about the following, which may just be issues of word choice.

Quote:

S has evidence to believe that p (justification condition) if and only if
Ceteris paribus, Any at least human rational being Sn would accept the evidence given


Is this any human as in pick a guy in the streets and ask him and he will believe it true given the evidence? Or is this any 'average' human? Or is this any human who has the educational background and experience to comprehend, Or is this all humans period?

Quote:
In a word, knowledge is stronger than belief.


In what way is it stronger?
Is using a comparative, as a "proposition", can it be justified and using what criteria?

Quote:
Knowledge presupposes justification


If you have the inclination, could you further explain this, not quite sure I'm getting the usage of presuppostion here. Right now I'm equating it with axiomatic which sense I'm pretty sure is not being used here.
 
nerdfiles
 
Reply Mon 30 Mar, 2009 02:03 pm
@GoshisDead,
Quote:
Is this any human as in pick a guy in the streets and ask him and he will believe it true given the evidence? Or is this any 'average' human? Or is this any human who has the educational background and experience to comprehend, Or is this all humans period?


Not "all humans" because the ceteris paribus clause rules them out; or it conditions us for which humans, under which circumstances, we wish to concern ourselves with. So it is not an "empirical" condition, where we might say something to the effect "6.7 billion people - X" where X is some arbitrary number. We force X to be a variable based on the "rational" and "ceteris paribus" clause and that nothing impedes our evidence to be submitted. Of course, there is some normative evaluation to be given to "rational."

"Average" might cut it, but I think "rational" is a bit more focused. If "a guy on the street" meets our criteria, then yes. The educational background and experience to comprehend would be ground for the judgment of evidence. These things would help the person determine the right judgment, not entail that some particular judgment be made.

"Every human being" is just too broad.

Quote:
In what way is it stronger?
Is using a comparative, as a "proposition", can it be justified and using what criteria?


Per our definition, belief does not require or presuppose justification or truth. Knowledge is logically stronger. There are more requirements for knowledge. Presumably it takes less to count as believing something.

If I say, "I believe that you are stupid" you will likely take that as just my opinion (belief).

If I say, "I know that you are stupid" you will likely ask, "How do you know this?"

You could say "How do you believe this?"

So imagine what I might say. Does it look like "justification" or "truth"?

I'm not saying that beliefs are weaker and they knowledge is more likely to "move nations and peoples." That's a completely other topic. I'm not saying "religious belief" is weaker than "religious knowledge." That's far into some other social and political topic. Not my concern.

Quote:
If you have the inclination, could you further explain this, not quite sure I'm getting the usage of presuppostion here. Right now I'm equating it with axiomatic which sense I'm pretty sure is not being used here.


To presuppose is to assume the truth of something, or the positive of it.

Every consequent of every true conditional statement ("If A then B") presupposes the truth of the antecedent. B presupposes (the truth of) A. The status of the consequent, given a value to the overall conditional, presupposes the status of the antecedent.

Presupposition is a "neutral logical relation." When we talk about knowledge, however, "presupposition" takes on a different mode of meaning. Since we're talking about the (positive) definition of knowledge, to count as knowledge or a confirmed knowing, the knower has passed the conditions of belief, justification, and truth. Thus, when I say "I know 2+2=4" it is presupposed that I believe it. Though, I do not presuppose it. The presupposition is implicit.

Presupposition can be implicit or explicit. In knowledge claims, the conditions are positively presupposed implicitly. Thus, it would be absurd to respond, "But do you believe 2+2=4?" If I do in fact know it, it is presupposed, in the positive sense, that I believe it. For how could I know it but not believe it?

Of course, we're concerned with a particular kind of knowledge, dealing with propositional variables.

Cases where one might say, "I know the communist party is wrong but I do not believe it" is a case where either "to know" or "to believe" is used in an idiomatic or colloquial or stylistic or emotive/expressive sense.
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Mon 30 Mar, 2009 03:04 pm
@nerdfiles,
Thanks for the clarification. The implication about my stupidity was a little harsh, but the explanations were helpful.
 
nerdfiles
 
Reply Mon 30 Mar, 2009 03:38 pm
@nerdfiles,
I'm not sure where you got that implication.

What's in quotes obviously isn't my voice. You wouldn't take someone who's arguing against the existence of God by reductio ad absurdum to in fact believe that God exists when it is supposed (where "suppose" is not stated):

Premise 1: God exists.

The whole point of using "Y knows that X is stupid" is for the simple fact that if someone says "I believe that X", we will likely dismiss it if it is insubstantial in a certain way.

Obviously what is put in quotation marks has the implicit qualification of being condition.

So, "If 'I know that you are stupid'..."

etc etc

Really, many are you are ghost chasing way too much, and I find that alarming. You're just too touchy. It's like when Ralph Nader made the condition that if Obama does X, he'll be rightly considered an Uncle Tom and if Obama does Y, he'll be rightly considered a hero.

This does not thereby state that Obama is an Uncle Tom. By analogy, what I said could not have been harsh because it wasn't my voice and it was conditional. That's what the quotation marks are for; to give hypothetical examples or examples in general.
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Mon 30 Mar, 2009 03:57 pm
@nerdfiles,
Can't troll a forum with my EMF reader and Infra Red Camera.
 
rhinogrey
 
Reply Mon 30 Mar, 2009 03:58 pm
@nerdfiles,
Posting to subscribe.
 
nerdfiles
 
Reply Mon 30 Mar, 2009 10:37 pm
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead wrote:
Can't troll a forum with my EMF reader and Infra Red Camera.


I do not follow.
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Mon 30 Mar, 2009 10:59 pm
@nerdfiles,
tools ghosthunters use
 
Exebeche
 
Reply Thu 9 Apr, 2009 05:49 am
@nerdfiles,
nerdfiles wrote:
I do not follow.


Sorry to interrupt.
I'm not sure if i am understanding something incorrectly.
The meaning of the word "epistemolgy" the way i know it from its use in the german language does not mean plain theory of knowledge.
Could be of course that this is a slight difference in languages. However i would like to clarify this.
The word "Epistemologie" in german has the word "Erkenntnistheorie" as a synonym, which means something like theory of cognition. "Erkenntnis" means something like cognition, recognition, realization.
In other words the subject of epistemology would also be about how we come to have knowledge about something.
This increases the range of topics a bit.
The way of coming to the point of considering something true comes into focus.
For example (i am not really an expert but i believe) that includes checking logical instruments for their reliability. This could be e.g. an examination if the "reverse conclusion" is a valid logical instrument or not.
The development of fix rules for scientific work which allow to check if a work can be considered scientific or not would in my eyes be an epistemological process, meaning a process in the history of epistemology itself. The theory of cognition has thereby made a step to a new stage of its evolution.
It was an addition to older questions of epistemology which where about concerns like, to what degree is perception a reliable tool of finding truth.
Is reasoning as reliable as a tool as perception or can it even provide truth that is not accessible for perception?
This aspect of epistemology contains the more exciting part for me.

Thanks for that interesting summary anyway.
 
Whoever
 
Reply Mon 22 Jun, 2009 04:06 am
@nerdfiles,
I share one of your concerns. Is the suggestion that epistemology only concerns only knowledge of propositions? This may be technically correct, for all I know, but it seems to leave some knowledge outside the study of epistemology.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 22 Jun, 2009 04:43 pm
@Whoever,
Whoever;71013 wrote:
I share one of your concerns. Is the suggestion that epistemology only concerns only knowledge of propositions? This may be technically correct, for all I know, but it seems to leave some knowledge outside the study of epistemology.



Epistemology asks, and tries to answer, the following questions:

1. What is the nature of knowledge?
2. What is the scope of knowledge (what can we know?)
3. How do we know? (How do we acquire knowledge?)
4. What is the purpose of knowledge?

And that seems to cover it.
 
Whoever
 
Reply Tue 23 Jun, 2009 05:51 am
@nerdfiles,
That's how I see it also. No mention of propositions.
 
Leonard
 
Reply Tue 6 Oct, 2009 02:29 pm
@nerdfiles,
This is an excellent explanation of Epistemology. I don't see any flaws or confusing terms, and i'll give you a Thank-You.
 
 

 
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