Thinktank epistemology


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Thinktank epistemology

  1. 1. How do you KNOW ?
  2. 2. What is knowledge ? Can we know ?
  3. 3. How does something go from being merely a belief to acquiring the status of knowledge ?
  4. 4. Belief - an opinion, conviction, confidence, or trust Knowledge - justified true belief
  5. 5. <ul><li>“ Only when we have provided warrant for our beliefs can we avoid changing our minds irrationally or believing irresponsibly .” </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>“ 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.” </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>But what counts as warrant for an assertion or belief? </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>definition: </li></ul><ul><li>Warrant - ground, justification, confirmation, proof. </li></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>We all know dogmatists who are more concerned about holding their opinions than about investigating their truth. (“My mind is made up, don’t confuse me with the facts.”) </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>Dogmatist - characterized by or given to the expression of opinions very strongly or positively as if they were facts. </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>Philosophy </li></ul><ul><li>Metaphysics- nature of reality </li></ul><ul><li>Epistemology - how we know </li></ul><ul><li>Ethics- morals </li></ul><ul><li>Aesthetics- beauty, art </li></ul>
  12. 12. Illustration: Bill Mahrer’s 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. 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. 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. 15. Foundationalism - starting point beliefs that can’t be proven but are assumed. Coherentism- a network of beliefs.
  16. 16. Coherent- holding together
  17. 17. <ul><li>Foundational or Traditional Epistemologies: </li></ul><ul><li>Rationalism </li></ul><ul><li>Empiricism </li></ul><ul><li>Subjectivism </li></ul><ul><li>Mixed views </li></ul><ul><li>Holy Spirit (Reformed Epistemology) </li></ul>
  18. 18. <ul><li>Rationalism: reason is the foundation. </li></ul><ul><li>Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz. </li></ul><ul><li>Begin with self-evident truths, build from there mainly by logical deduction. </li></ul><ul><li>Mathematical model. </li></ul><ul><li>Distinct from sensation and memory. </li></ul>
  19. 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. 20. definition: Inferences - conclusions or judgments derived by reasoning from premises or evidence.
  21. 21. Rationalist versions of foundationalism hold that foundational beliefs must be self-evidently true . Example: 2+2=4
  22. 22. <ul><li>The attractiveness of pure rationalism lies in its claim to provide warrant which is, so to speak, airtight; it promises absolute logical certainty. </li></ul>
  23. 23. <ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>Our criticisms should not blind us to the significance of deductive elaboration in mathematics, symbolic logic, and as a control in thinking and argument. </li></ul>
  24. 24. <ul><li>definition: </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  25. 25. <ul><li>2a. Empiricism : Sense experience is the foundation: </li></ul><ul><li>Locke, Berkeley, Hume. </li></ul>
  26. 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. 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. 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. 29. <ul><li>Close connection between Empiricism and the Scientific Method. </li></ul><ul><li>The Oxford English Dictionary says that scientific method is: &quot;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.&quot; </li></ul>
  30. 30. <ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  31. 31. <ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>What is taken as self-evident seems to be something that the perceiver brings to the experience, at least in some important sense. </li></ul>
  32. 32. <ul><li>3a. Subjectivism : no objective truth, only “truth for me.” </li></ul><ul><li>Skeptics, Existentialists, Postmodernists. </li></ul>
  33. 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. 34. 3b. Intuition - may be defined as understanding or knowing without conscious recourse to thought, observation or reason.
  35. 35. <ul><li>Problem: Same as that of empiricism. </li></ul>
  36. 36. 4. Mixed views
  37. 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 because the basis is an internal work of the Holy Spirit. We are certain that God exists because the Holy Spirit has caused us to believe.
  38. 38. Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- - 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
  39. 39. Hebrews 11:1 NIV Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see .
  40. 40. Philippians 2:12-13 NIV 12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
  41. 41. Some use the following passage as an excuse to ignore the previous passages: Romans 10:13 NIV for, &quot;Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.&quot;
  42. 42. But it must be remembered that Paul does not finish his argument until Romans 11:5-6 and through the end of chapter 11:36 : Romans 11:5-6 &quot; 5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.&quot;
  43. 43. … Further, it must also be remembered the text that Paul is quoting :
  44. 44. Joel 2:28-32 NIV 28 &quot;And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. 29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. 30 I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 31 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. 32 And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved ; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, even among the survivors whom the LORD calls .
  45. 45. 1John 2:20-27 &quot; 20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One , and all of you know the truth . 21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth . 22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Messiah. Such a person is the antichrist-- denying the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 24 As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us--eternal life. 26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray . 27 As for you , the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you . But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit--just as it has taught you , remain in him.&quot;
  46. 46. <ul><li>Let’s return now to the idea of Coherentism . </li></ul>
  47. 47. 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 .
  48. 48. Formulating a Metaphysical Theory - The most general theoretical project is the production of a system of assertions which makes sense out of total experience.
  49. 49. definition: Metaphysical - of or relating to the transcendent or to a reality beyond what is perceptible to the senses
  50. 50. Herein is the limitation of the empiricist epistemology or one that only allows knowledge based on the scientific method . It can only account for the physical world and not the metaphysical .
  51. 51. For instance, the empiricist, by his own admission, is not able to account for anything prior to what is known as “The Big Bang.”
  52. 52. It is unlikely that a single problematic experience would require very profound changes in our scheme. Alternative ways of assimilating such experiences will be explored and the one which produces the least change will be adopted.
  53. 53. Criteria for Truth: Consistency - freedom from contradiction within the interpretive scheme. Coherence - internal relatedness of the statements within the interpretive scheme. Comprehensiveness - applicability of the interpretive scheme to ALL experience. Congruity - appropriateness of the interpretive scheme to the experience it covers.
  54. 54. The application of the criteria to an interpretive scheme may result in its elimination or falsification, but it cannot result in final verification .
  55. 55. Hence, the need for a “ leap of faith .”
  56. 56. key truth: Only to the extent that a scheme remains open to continued testing is it able to display its credentials. Only then can we show the strength of its internal structure and its ability to illuminate experience.
  57. 57. Far from being a favor, to protect one’s interpretive scheme from criticism is to rob it of the only way it can display its claim to truth. It is sometimes considered a virtue to insulate one’s scheme from criticism. Criticisms must be faced squarely provided they represent a genuine claim that we have violated one of the criteria.
  58. 58. The discovery of error is a genuine advance, not a loss of face for the person who is concerned with TRUTH .
  59. 59. The End.