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33 Cards in this Set

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What is Empiricism?
Empiricism is the branch of epistemology that claims most or all of our beliefs are justified by experience (empirical evidence) coming from our senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch, and so on.

Empiricism is based on contingent truths; a sentence such as "The cat's fur is soft" said by a person petting a cat is an example.
Define and explain the problem of skepticism.
Although it is important to question the truth of new information presented to us, there is a problem associated with being too skeptical. If we were to reject all new information that challenged conventional wisdom then there would be no progress. Imagine if no one eventually accepted that the world was spherical and that it orbited around the sun. Knowledge would stagnate.
What is Gettier's Causal Theory of Knowledge?
American philosopher Edmund Gettier proposed the assumption that one could be justified in believing a statement S even if it is false. More specifically, he held the view that one’s beliefs can be justified by defeasible evidence. The causal theories of knowledge, which were prompted most prominently by Gettier’s theories, hold the basic idea that in order to know S:
1. You must believe S.
2. S must be true.
3. Your belief in S must be caused in an appropriate way.
A good example of Gettier-style thinking (offered in The Philosophy Gym, page 212) deals with horse racing, and is stated as follows:
The case of the fixed race. Suppose I’m told by someone who is usually an extremely reliable source of information that the next race has been fixed and Black Beauty will win the race. Given what I’ve been told, I’m justified in believing that Black Beauty will win. But now suppose that, unbeknown to me, something goes wrong with the plan to bribe the jockeys and the horses run as usual. However, it just so happens that Black Beauty does win. Did I know Black Beauty would win?
According to Gettier-style thinking, you would not actually know that Black Beauty would win, as the situation fulfills only the first two knowledge requirements, and not the third.
What is Justified True Belief?
(rough version)
In the view of Plato, justified true belief is synonymous with knowing something. To verify knowing something one has to put this knowledge through a test to conclude that it is true. To determine you do know something you first have to believe it is true. Second, what you know has to be true for it to be knowledge. Finally, you must be justified in believing what you know as true. Concluding that, you must believe it, it must be true, and you have to be able to justify it for it to be knowledge, so thus knowledge has to something you believe in while true and justifiable or better put, knowledge has to be a justified true belief, or vice versa, justified true belief is knowledge. Example: To convict someone, a jury must have a true belief that they are guilty and must be able to justify it with evidence. Theaetetus is credited with the addition of justification to knowledge.
Define Indefeasible.
Indefeasible means to not be annulled or made void. The truth of a sentence is good enough that the evidence-sentence could not be false.

Ex: If a witness claims that she was not at the scence of the crime at 9:13 pm. And a bartender and a pianist claimed that they both saw her in the bar across the city at that time, then she could not possibly have been at the crime scene at 9:13.
What is defeasible evidence?
Defeasible is used to describe evidence which is consistent with the falsity of the sentence it supports. (could be later defeated by undermining evidence)

ex: The sentence "John is crying" is good evidence that John is unhappy. But this information could be false if we find out later that John really is happy and was trying to fool us.
What is Logical Positivism?
Logical Positivism is a school of philosophy that stresses the function of philosophy as a method of criticizing and analyzing science. Statements of fact are held to be meaningful only if they have verifiable consequences in experience and in statements of logic, mathematics, or philosophy. Statements of fact are validated based on the rules of language.A philosophy asserting the primacy of observation in assessing the truth of statements of fact and holding that metaphysical and subjective arguments not based on observable data are meaningless. Also called logical empiricism.

Because logical positivism stresses the suspicion of any thought that couldn’t be reduced to direct observation and experience, it refines the purpose of philosophy by limiting it to scientific language. An example of hostility that this concept has is towards religion. If you can't taste, touch, see, hear or smell something, logical positivism assumes that it doesn't exist or is unverifiable, as the starting presupposition. This concept also applies to the example of God. Logical positivists claim that the statement, “God exists,” is unverifiable. They discard the argument of God’s existence altogether because God’s existence is unverifiable.

What are circumstances of ascription?
When we believe in something, there must be some sort of circumstance in which it can be applicable to our lives. One must have experience to understand.
What is the verification principle?
The verificationist idea that every declaritive sentence must be verifiable by the five senses or a tautology of logic. In effect, this states that every claim must be subject to evidence of experience. It is dangerous, however, because it cannot apply to itself.
Objective Theories of Knowledge
Objective Theories explain justification in a way that depends on facts about the world outside the mind of the knower. Such accounts of jjustification are also sometimes called "externalist" because on these accounts what a person is justified in believing may depend on the states external to the believer's mind.
What is the principle of deduction for justification?
The principle of deduction for justification (PDJ) is defined as follows:

If you take any two sentences, A and B, then, if you are justified in believing both A and B, and if from A and B together C follows logically, then, if you believe C, you are justified in believing C.

Essentially, if C follows A and B and you believe and are justified in believing A and B then you believe and are justified in believing C.

If a conclusion follows logically from some assumption, then the conclusion will be true if the assunmptions are.
What is an internalist?
One who believes or is concerned with one of three topics
1.) asserts that a person does or can have a form for accessing the basis for knowledge or justified belief
2.) asserts that a person holding a justified belief and a justifier can become aware of the justifier
3.) epistemic justification of knowledge should be analyzed in terms of whether the justifications fulfill intellectual responsibility
Socratic Method
Socratic Method is a form of philosophical discussion and learning. It involves two speakers, one leader and one member agreeing to certain assumptions being submitted for his acceptance or denial. The speaker asks a series of questions about a central topic and receives answers from the others involved. Typically, these discussions are oppositional and are “won” when one member contradicts himself.
What is verificationism? What does verificationism say about reality?
Verificationism relies on the verification principle and was developed from logical positivism. Verificationism is the view that if no amount of evidence could decide an issue (whether or not a particular state of affairs obtains in the world), there is no real issue. Verificationists present their positions using declarative sentences—statements expressing how a person believes the human-sensory-based world of “meaningful reality” to be—that are subject to the verification principle, which states that there must be the possibility of empirical evidence supporting or disproving the claim attainable by “someone, somewhere, sometime.”

For example, a declarative sentence may be “There are little green men on Pluto.” This is a verifiable claim since at some point in the future humans may travel to Pluto and may visually prove or disprove this statement. The statement “the sun is a source of radiant energy” is an example of a verifiable claim that, since we can feel the heat of the sun, has been empirically proven true every day.
What is rationalism?
Rationalism is the position that the most significant elements of what we know are derived by reasoning rather than experience. For example, 2+2 can be solved rationally by using reasoning; if a person has 2 apples and he picks 2 more, then he has a total of 4 apples. However, rationalism has its own POKs; many philosophers state that rationalism can lead to complete skepticism about the world due to excessive amounts of questioning and challenging every aspect of the physical world.
What is a "verifiable sentence"?
A verifiable sentence is a sentence that has the possibility of being supported by evidence.
For example a verifiable sentence may be, "It is raining", which can be supported by the evidence of rain drops falling upon the ground, or one's head and other empirical evidence.
An example of a sentence that is not verifiable is, "Mr. Andersen's great grandmother cam back as a ghost." There is no evidence right now, or that can be perceived as being possible in the future, to prove this sentence to be true.
EX: Unverifiability
The statement "My Grandpa is happy in the after life" cannot be supported by any data whatsoever, therefore it is unverifiable.
EX: Verifiability
The statement "The Sun is Shining" is supported by evidence (light outside, warmth of the sun on ones face) and is verifiable.
What is the justification condition?
The justification condition is the third criterion of Socrates' knowledge. Belief that is true and justified becomes knowledge. For instance a jury must be justified in their true belief that a man is innocent in order for it to know that the man is, indeed, free of guilt.
What is Locke's Way?
In Locke's Way, justification of something requires that a) you must believe it, b) it must be true, and c) you must have good evidence for the belief, although not necessarily indefeasible evidence.

For example, we know that we have hands, even though we do not have indefeasible evidence that we have them. Our senses are, according to Locke's Way, a strong enough evidence to justify that we have hands.
Someone who believes that we have no right to think that any of our beliefs about the world could not be wrong
What are foundational beliefs?
Foundational beliefs must be justified in order to be believed. Foundational beliefs fall into two categories. 1.) Beliefs which are basic; their justification does not depend on other beliefs but rather on something outside the realm of belief. 2.) Beliefs that are derived from one or more basic beliefs and therefore depend on the basic beliefs for their validity.
In simplest terms, epistemology is the philosophical study of the nature, sources, and limits of knowledge and justified belief. It deals with questions that concern the establishment and distribution of knowledge, such as: “What is knowledge?” and “How is knowledge acquired?” The central goal of epistemology is to investigate the theories of knowledge using justification, rationalism, empiricism, foundationalism, and skepticism, among others.

Ex. A student taking a biology test guesses on a question. He believes his answer to be correct, and upon self grading his test, discovers that his guess was correct. Thus, his answer was a belief, and it was true, but it was not knowledge. To know something, it must not only be a true belief, but it must also be justified.
What is the meaning of 'reductio ad absurdum?'
In Latin, 'reductio ad absurdum' literally means 'reducing to absurdity.' Also known as 'reductio,' for short.

'Reductio ad absurdum' is a philosophical term, used in reference to the dispute of an argument by claiming that its consequences are absurd. By demonstrating the falsity of the consequences, one demonstrates the falsity of the position itself. However, this proof should be used tentatively, as what is considered absurd may not always prove false.

Example: According to Cartesian rationalism, the existence of the physical world should always be regarded with sizeable doubt. G.E. Moore, a British philosopher, cited 'reductio ad absurdum' in his argument against this heavy of skepticism, claiming it would be absurd to consider that one’s own hands did not exist.
What is the difference between prescriptive and descriptive claims?
Descriptive claims observe and record the facts of a situation without making recommendations or value judgments. Prescriptive claims involve “what people ought to do, say, or believe” (75). In other words, prescriptive claims address what ought to be the case whereas descriptive claims address what is the case.

For example, science tends to be seen as the domain of descriptive claims. Scientists study global warming and gather factual information. The interpretation of this evidence often moves into the realm of prescriptive claims, such as, “We ought to support carbon emission controls and drive fuel-efficient vehicles in order to stop global warming.”
What is Descartes Way?
AKA Justification condition--The evidence each of us has our own existence is indefeasible, it is impossible both to be aware of ourselves, and to not exist. Descartes formulated this argument in Latin: "Cogito ergo sum" or "I think, therefore I am."

Descartes suggested the right way to explain the justification condition was to insist that the evidence possessed entitled you to be certain of what you believed, in other words, impossible to doubt it.

To know something Descartes says:
a. you must believe it
b. it must be true
c. you must have indefeasible evidence for the belief
What is a declarative sentence?
A declarative sentence is one that describes a state of affairs and can therefore be true or false. Declarative sentences declare how the person who says them believes the world to be.

Ex: John thinks the car is yellow.

This is a declarative sentence because the car may not in fact be yellow, it may be green or orange. However it describes a state of affairs, and how John believes the world to be.
What are Contingent Truths?
A proposition is considered to be contingent if it has the potential of being either true or false, depending on the statement. The truth of the statement "stop signs are octagonal" is contingent because there are stop signs which, for various reasons, do not have eight sides. However the truth of the statement "squares have four sides" is necessary, meaning that by definition, it is true. Based on the mathematical definition of a square, there is absolutely no situation in which this will not prove to be the case.
Define Reliablism
Reliabilism is a category of epistemological theories which state, like Plato, that in order to know 'P', one must believe P, and P must be true. The difference is in the justification clause, for reliabilism demands that the person has arrived at their belief in P by an appropriate, reliable process, and not merely as a result of chance.
Deductive Closure Principle
Definition: The things you know are a result of all of your beliefs that are logical consequences of everything you know already.
Example 1: If A, B, and C are all sentences and if you know that A=B and B=C, then you can logically conclude that A=C, according to the deductive closure principle.
Example 2:
I know that all mammals have brains.
I know I am a mammal.
Therefore, I know I have a brain.
What is the principle of deduction for justification (PDJ)?
example: If you take any two sentences, A and B, then, if you are justified in believing both A and B, and if from A and B together, C follows logically, then, if you believe C, you are justified in believing C.
What is evolutionary epistemology?
Evolutionary epistemology is the theory that our cognitive capacities are themselves the product of an evolutionary process. It also explores how concepts and ideas compete with each other and are selected, similar to the theory of natural selection.
What is the difference between necessary and contingent?
A necessary truth is true in every possible world. A bachelor is a single male. Contingent refers to things only possible in some worlds. (Cucumbers are green, water freezes at 0 degrees centigrade).
Give an example of the contrast between verificationism and later Wittgenstein's account of sentences.
One example is the sentence "I am hot".

A verificationist would say that when the sentence is used to convey "My temperature is warmer than it normally is," then it is a valid sentence, because this can be verified empirically. However, if the sentence were to be used in the sense of "I am aesthetically pleasing," the verificationist would say that the sentence is meaningless, because it cannot be empirically proven, and there are therefore no circumstances under which this sentence could be used.

In contrast, later Wittgenstein's account of language games would allow for either sentence to be valid. This is become the sense of the word has come to be applicable for either definition. However, if someone who was by no stretch of the imagination aesthetically pleasing were to say in all seriousness "I am hot" to convey the idea that they are aesthetically pleasing, then Wittgenstein would say that the sentence is not valid, because it breaks the rules of use for the word "hot".
Give 2 Examples of Plato's Justified True Belief.
Example 1: The Earth is round.
- I believe that the Earth is round.
- In fact this is TRUE.
- I am justified because researchers have written proof that the Earth is round.

Example 2: I was born in Palo Alto.
- I beleive that I was born in Palo Alto.
- In fact this is TRUE.
- I am justified because I have a birth certificate that says I was born in Palo Alto.