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61 Cards in this Set

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Define Epistemology

The branch of philosophy that studies the question WHAT IS KNOWLEDGE


The belief that we can have no true knowledge concerning the world.


The belief that we may have knowledge concerning the world by only means of sensory observation alone.


The belief that we may have knowledge concerning the world, and that sensory observation is not the only way to obtain such knowledge.


The branch of philosophy that studies the question, WHAT IS REAL?

Mind-body dualism

Belief that both physical objects and mental objects exist.


Belief that only mental objects exist, while physical objects do not.


Belief that only physical objects exist while mental objects do not.

Mind-body Problem

An objection to the most commonly form of mind-body dualism which claims that minds and bodies not only exist but they also interact: If minds and bodies both exist, they they must be such different things that they could not possibly interact.

Objection to mind-body dualism.

Identity Thesis

The belief that mental states are just brain states. It is a kind of materialism, attempting to reduce the mental to the physical.


A series of statements in which a belief is proposed for acceptance on the basis of reasons offered in support of that belief.


A belief, statement, or proposition that is being argued for.


Reasons offered in support of the conclusion.

Inductive Argument

An argument in which the conclusion follows from the premises as a matter of probability.


Deductive Argument

An argument in which the conclusion is said to follow from the premises as a matter of necessity.


Two Tests for Deductive Arguments

1. Validity

2. Truth


The argument must be VALID; that is, the argument structure must be such that the conclusion does in fact follow as a matter of necessity.


All the premises must be TRUE; that is, all the premises must be acceptable to the assessor of the argument.


In a deductive argument, if the premises are true and the structure is valid, the argument is SOUND.

Reduction ad absurdum

If a set of premises leads to a contradiction, at least one of the premises is wrong. That is, if a theory leads to a contradiction, the theory is wrong and needs to be re-evaluated.

Socrates: Euthyphro's 3 Answers to Socrates' question, WHAT IS PIETY? and Socrates' Response

1. Euthyphro first states that piety is doing as he is doing, prosecuting someone guilty of a high crime. Socrates responds that Socrates did not ask for a few examples of piety, but asked for its idea or definition.

2. Euthyphro suggests piety is that which is loved by the gods. Socrates points out that there are many gods, and the gods will disagree. Therefore the same thing will be liked by some gods but disliked by others. Therefore, the same thing, according to this definition will be both pious and impious. Hence this definition tells us what is both liked and disliked, pious and impious, not what is pious. Therefore the definition is insufficient.

3. Socrates amends Euthyphro's definition to be piety is that which is loved by ALL gods. Socrates then locates a contradiction in Euthyphro's opinion, that Euthyphro simultaneously believes something is pious 1) because it is loved by the gods but also 2) not because it is loved by the gods, but because it is holy.

Formal Charges Brought against Socrates

Corrupting the youth, and believing in gods of his own invention rather than those accepted by the state.

"I swear by Zeus that you absolutely believe in no gods at all." What is the problem?

During the trial, Meletus contradicts his written charges that Socrates believes in deities of his own invention.

Socrates' Method

He would all ppl concerning their opinions, and if he found any contradictions in those opinions, he would point them out.

Platos theory of Forms

Plato believed in two realms of reality, a higher and a lower. He believed that the objects in the lower room were physical objects and the objects in the higher realm were things he called Forms. For Plato, the Forms were neither mental nor physical things, they were ideal and abstract. Plato believed that Forms were more real than physical objects and were perfect. Plato thought that whereas physical objects were sensible, changing, and changeable, copies of Forms, and spatio-temporal, Forms were intelligible, eternal, transcendent, and archetypal. The relationship that Plato believed held between physical objects and the Forms was that physical objects participated in and imitated the Forms. A good example of Plato's theory of forms would be the top of a coke can is a physical circle that imitates and participate in the one true perfect Form of the circle.

Dreaming and Being Awake for Plato

The difference between dreaming and being awake according to Plato is that people who are dreaming perceive physical objects only but people who are awake perceive both Forms and physical objects, and do not confuse the two.

Plato's Allegory of the Cave

Shadows are to physical objects for people in the cave as physical objects are to Forms for us.

The Sticks and Stones Argument (Plato)

2 sticks are never exactly equal in length nor are two stones ever exactly identical in shape, nevertheless we are familiar and conversent with the ideas of perfect equality of length and perfect identically of shape. Since we could never have obtained these ideas from physical objects, we must have had these ideas before we entered the physical realm. Therefore we must have existed before entering into the physical realm. (the soul must have existed before birth)

Plato's Theory of Anamnesis (Recollection)

Plato believed that before birth we resided in the Realm of the Forms and had direct and immediate knowledge of the Forms. At birth, we forgot this knowledge. It is possible to remember or recollect this knowledge by two methods:

1. We may remember aspects of the Forms by means of interaction with physical objects because Physical objects resemble the Forms.

2. We may use the intellect to remember aspects of the Forms.

According to Plato, we never learn anything new in terms of knowledge, we may only recollect knowledge we already possessed. Plato believed that because we are physical and limited creatures, we may never have full and complete knowledge concerning the forms before death. He nevertheless thought it was to our greatest benefit to try to recollect as much as we can concerning the Forms because such knowledge led to wisdom and good judgement and could help us in our daily lives.


Greek thinkers before Socrates.


Believed all is water.


Believed that All is One, or All is Being. Whereas Herculitus wanted to stress the way the world is constantly changing, Parmenidies wished to stress the way the world constantly remains the same despite apparent change. Parmenidies is remembered as the Philosopher of Being and influenced Plato's beliefs concerning the Higher Realm in his Theory of Forms.


Believed all is fire and all is in Flux (constant change). He is remembered as the Philosopher of Becoming and influenced Plato's beliefs concerning the Lower Realm in his Theory of Forms.


Believed the world is made up of minute, physical objects which were too small to be perceived and which were indivisible. They were materialists who believed the soul was a string of physical atoms.


Believed that all is number.

Aristotle's Theory of Forms

Aristotle believed the Form is in the object. His theory is called HYLOMORPHIC COMPOSITION because Aristotle believed that objects were comprised of 2 aspects: matter (hyle) and Form (morphe), which together made up what he called "substance."

Charismos (Seperation)

Plato says that physical objects and Forms are entirely separate and are different kinds of things. That Plato says they are such different kind of things, said Aristotle, seems to imply the two could not possibly interact. But Plato says they do interact, by means of "imitation" and "participation in". Thus, Plato seems to be contradicting himself and must be wrong, stated Aristotle.

Descartes Reasons that we should Begin by Doubting Everything

1. My senses have deceived me in the past.

2. I may be dreaming.

3. A powerful being such as God or an evil genius may be deceiving me.

3 reasons.

Descartes Epistemological Position


Descartes believes we may have knowledge concerning the world and sensory observation is not the only way to obtain it.

Descartes Metaphysical Position

Mind-body dualism.

Descartes believes both physical and mental objects exist.

Innate Ideas

Ideas we are born with (supposedly)

An example of someone who adheres to a theory of innate ideas: Plato, Descartes, Leibniz, or Socrates.

Locke's 3 Arguments Against Innate Ideas

1. I can explain how it is possible to come by all of our ideas without referencing image ideas.

2. Even if there were universal consent concerning certain beliefs, this would not necessarily mean such beliefs must be innate.

3. There is no universal consent concerning innate ideas: children and idiots do not have them

; therefore innate ideas do not exist.

Locke's Epistemological System

Locke believed all our ideas, and hence all of our knowledge, drive from experience.

There are two kinds of experience:

Sensation of external physical objects &

Reflection of internal mental processes.

These produce simple ideas.

From simple ideas, complex ideas are constructed.

Locke's Metaphysical Position

Mind-body Dualism

Locke believed that both physical and mental objects exist.

Primary Qualities

Independent of the observer and reside in the external object; our ideas (perceptions) of primary Qualities resemble the qualities in the object.

Ex: Shape, size, motion.

Secondary Qualities

Dependent upon an observer and reside in the mind; our ideas (perceptions) of secondary Qualities (ex, the rainbow), do not resemble the qualities in the object.

Ex: heat, pain, color, smell, sound, tactile sensation

Berkeley's Extended Argument for Idealism

1. Secondary Qualities are no more than ideas. (The vessel of water argument)

2. Primary Qualities are no more than ideas. (The mite's foot argument)

3. We cannot observe material substance, only attributes. Therefore we should not believe in the existence of matter.

Berkeley's specific Argument for Idealism

We may perceive nothing more than our perceptions. Our perceptions are only ideas. Therefore we only have evidence for, and should only believe in the existence of, ideas.

Berkeley's Argument for the Existence of God

Things are no more than ideas or perceptions, and yet continue to exist even when not perceived by us. Therefore there must be a universal observer.

Berkeley's metaphysical Position


Berkeley believes that only mental objects exist.

Berkeley's Epistemological Position


Berkeley believes we can only have true knowledge of the world with sensory observation.

Hume's Epistemological System

There are two kinds of perceptions of the mind:

Impressions which are vivid and lively, the immediate data of experience &

Ideas which are pale copies and imitations of impressions.

According to Hume, the empirical limits to thought are: all ideas derive from impressions. In other words, our thoughts are limited by experience.

Hume's Principle

A word is meaningless unless it's reference can be traced back to impressions.

Hume's Differentiating btwn Maters of Fact and Relations of Ideas

Relations of Ideas: the truths of logic and mathematics; certain but uninformative about the world. Their truth is dependent upon logical relations

Ex: All bachelors are unmarried

Matters of Facts: the truths of science; uncertain but informative about the world. Their truth is dependent upon induction from experience

Hume's Criticism of Substance

We never perceive substance (material or mental) underlying our perceptions. Therfore we have no reason to believe in the existence is substance. (Therefore, we shouldn't believe in the existence of either mind or matter)

Hume's Criticism of Causality

Our idea of Causality (for every event there is a cause) derives from experience and is therefore a matter of fact, nor relation of Ideas. Hence, causality is a scientific hypothesis, not a metaphysical truth, and is not certain. Therefore, we should not say, "For every event, there is must be a cause." We should say, "For every event there is probably a cause."

If Hume is right, then many of the traditional arguments in philosophy (Descartes arguments for the existence of mind and of God, for example) no longer follow with necessity, are invalid, and fail.

Kant's A priori Analytic Judgements

The same as Hume's relations of Ideas. Ex: All bachelors are unmarried. All bodies are extended.

Kant's A posteriori synthetic Judgements

The same as Hume's Matter of Fact

Ex: All bachelors smell bad. All bodies are heavy.

Kant's Position in 2 Steps

1. Kant claims synthetic a Priori knowledge is possible. He tries to substantiate this claim by providing examples of synthetic a priori knowledge he believes we have and know with certainty to be true. He gives examples.

1. The truths of mathematics. Ex: 7 + 5 = 12

2. The basic laws of science. Newton's Third Law

3. Certain metaphysical principles. Ex: the law of causality.

For example, Kant argues the Law of Causality (for every event there is a cause) is an example of an a priori synthetic judgement. It is a priori because we say and believe that for every event there must be a cause, and the necessity and strict universality of this statement cannot come from experience (as Hume had claimed) it is synthetic because the subject (events)and predicate (causes)ate different. Thus, the predicate adds information to the subject; the statement is informative and the statement is therefore synthetic.

2. Kant asks, What are the necessary conditions for the possibility of having a priori synthetic truths? His answer: The 12 Categories of Understanding.

Ex: space, time, substance, and causality.

Since these concepts cannot have derived from the material world, we must have these concepts prior to any sensory experience. Thus, our perception is conditioned by our concepts rather than our concepts being conditioned by our perception. This is called "Kant's Copernican Revolution"


Contrary to traditional views of science, Kuhn argues that our perception is affected by our background belief systems, or paradigms. This raises the important Epistemological question: Is objectivity impossible or only difficult?

Kant's Beliefs

Kant believes our perceptions are always colored or alerted because they are always constructed and therefore conditioned by the Categories of Understanding. Thus, Kant believes