Posts tagged ‘knowledge’

August 30, 2012

Answering V.J. Torley’s questions

by Neil Rickert

Over at the Uncommon Descent blog, poster vjtorley has posed “Ten Questions for Professor Coyne.”  I am not a spokesman for Jerry Coyne, and I disagree with some of what he writes.  But I thought I would try giving my own answers to those questions.  I’m pretty sure that Jerry Coyne would disagree with me on some of the answers.

Question 1 – Is science the only road to knowledge?

I’ll note that there is some ambiguity on what is meant by “knowledge.”  For myself, I would never claim that science is the only way to all knowledge, though it is an excellent way to knowledge about the natural world.  In any case, vjtorley breaks this question into several parts.

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August 10, 2012

I am a behaviorist

by Neil Rickert

In an earlier post, I said something about what I am not.  Now it is time to say something about what I am.

Psychologists tend to divide themselves into cognitivists and behaviorists.  The behaviorists study behavior of people or of experimental animals.  Cognitivists tend to study beliefs, thoughts, and the like.  It sometimes seems as if those two groups are at war.  Cognitivists are often pointing out what they see as flaws in behaviorism, while behaviorists are often pointing out what they see as follies in cognitivism.  It sometimes seems to me that each side is about right in its criticism of the other side.

The terminology from psychology has been carried over into philosophy, so that some philosophers consider themselves behaviorists and others consider themselves cognitivists or mentalists.  For example, Quine is sometimes said to be a behaviorist.  The term “behaviorism” seems to be rather broader as used in philosophy than its counterpart in psychology.

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July 29, 2012

My alternative to materialism – an outline

by Neil Rickert

Since posting “Why I am not a materialist” some comments have suggested that I really am a materialist since I am not proposing anything supernatural nor any immaterial spiritual soul.  Well, fair enough, if that is all that materialism implies.  However, the reason that I deny that I am a materialist, is that I disagree with a lot of what materialists say.  It seems to me that for those who declare themselves materialists, their materialism dictates their approach on how to explain things.  And I don’t want my methodology to be dictated by metaphysical assumptions.

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July 3, 2012

On conceptual schemes

by Neil Rickert

In an earlier post, I hinted that I might take up the question of conceptual schemes, and the question of whether conceptual relativity should be seen as a problem.  Donald Davidson has argued that the idea of a conceptual scheme is incoherent.  I disagree, and will explain why.

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June 15, 2012

More on knowledge

by Neil Rickert

As I have made clear in earlier posts, I do not like the typical philosopher’s view, that knowledge = justified true belief.  I most recently discussed that in “What is knowledge?”  As you can see from the comments to that earlier post, philosophers (or at least one) disagree with me.  There was a guest post today, at Jonny Scaramanga’s blog, which helps illustrate my objection to the JTB characterization of knowledge.

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May 27, 2012

What is knowledge?

by Neil Rickert

I have made no secret of my disdain for the idea that knowledge is justified true belief, as is often asserted in the literature of epistemology.  In this post, I want to say more about my own view of what constitutes knowledge.

I recently posted a parable, “The blind man and the cave” in to illustrate what is required in order to have knowledge.  To my surprise, one of the comments dismissed everything that I thought important in that parable, and insisted that knowledge is just facts.

All the blind man needs to know is WHAT he is measuring (a fact), and then know the measurement (a fact). Then the facts that he gains (height of the cave) will be the newly acquired knowledge because he understands the facts based on previous facts learned.

That leaves me wondering why philosophers seem to miss (or gloss over) what I see as important.

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May 12, 2012

The magical black box

by Neil Rickert

In a discussion in comments to “The Primacy of Thought” at Ron Murphy’s blog, I suggested that I might do a full post here on the title topic.  A link in Ron’s blog took me to “The importance of evidence” which is a post by Mike D.  There, Mike D discusses what he sees as the foundations of knowledge, where he says:

Empiricism requires us to make to two foundational assumptions:

  1. I exist
  2. My senses generally provide me with reliable information

For myself, I am not making those assumptions, and I want to discuss why and to indicate where I do begin.

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May 5, 2012

A semantic conception of mind

by Neil Rickert

In an earlier post, I remarked that philosophy, including philosophy of mind, appears to be a syntactic enterprise, whereas I tend to think of the mind as primarily semantic. In this post, I want to suggest a way of thinking about the mind that better fits with the idea that it is primarily semantic.

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March 20, 2012

Knowledge, empiricism and all that

by Neil Rickert

As previously indicated, I intend giving an outline of my own non-typical views of philosophical topics.  I’ll start by indicating in broad outline, how I look at knowledge.

There’s a traditional division between rationalism (roughly, knowledge is innate but perhaps requires reasoning to uncover it) and empiricism (knowledge is acquired through experience).  Between those alternatives, I clearly select empiricism.  It seems rather obvious that we acquire our knowledge through experience, and I suppose I find it a bit of a puzzle that there are rationalists who deny this.

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