Philosophy of knowledge

philosophy of knowledge

Epistemology and Philosophy of Knowledge

Epistemology is, literally, the science of knowing, in Greek episteme (ε̉̉πιστημη).

Epistemology in the broad sense mainly includes: the history of science, which aims to describe the historical development of building science, the scientific institution or scholarly knowledge, philosophy of science, which aims to elucidate the conceptual context of scientific models, to draw prospects in the scholarly knowledge, to highlight the conditions of philosophical science, and epistemology in the strict sense, which examines the scientific methodology, the structure of human science, methods of dissemination, development and renewal of scholarly knowledge.

Strictly speaking, epistemology is the question “What is science? “. However, it does so in a context that is not neutral: the image of” Science “is often that of a production of truth and not an instrument of observation and research. Moreover, this “Science” is all the more positive connotations that its production is discussed by philosophers, more or less excluded from it. Consequently, the question will be much more likely “that must be science? “. This is known as methodology when it comes to how to do. But parasciences issue or some philosophies are more or less this: “That must be a practice to be scientific? “Hear” to produce the truth. “The question is no longer in methodology but judgment is referred to as standard.

To talk about experimental sciences, there is also the phrase “hard sciences” or “hard”. To agree on this term, one can define, at the simplest level, as the representation is permitted, at any given time, a company on the reality that surrounds it. The adjective “true” indicates that it refers only to a portion of an era of knowledge. The word “authorized”, ie of authority indicates that we do not take into account all the beliefs of the time but only part, which corresponds to a standard. This standard, in the case of science, aims to produce a reliable and adequate corpus.


Idealism, Realism, Nominalism

Before we get to experience and induction, start with some vocabulary …

Abstraction is the failure to consider part of “qualities” of “parts” of the “reality” to draw an ideality. It involves building a representation by neglecting some aspects of this “reality”, whatever it is. The circle is thus a mathematical abstraction can all circles that one can draw or play in the world that we entourre.

The sciences are intended to represent “reality”, so to build abstractions. Theories produced are not a copy but a representation of “reality”. However, this does not, to understand, to believe in the “reality” as an object, as well as tables or chairs (depending on the common understanding), in the same way that a map represents a territory without that it is given as an object. Representations produced by science are only imperfect images which does nothing they are considered similar in nature to the “reality”.

Some philosophies, called idealists, believe that “reality” and its representations are essentially similar: “ideas”. Our perceptions are then degraded images of original ideality (see the allegory of Plato‘s cave [Republic VII 514a-519d]). Taken to the extreme, idealism can be said that seeking and learning are only forms of recollection, like Socrates in the Meno of Plato [80d-86c]. Another form of idealism can state that our knowledge of the world responds to a priori forms, as in Kant.

These various forms of idealism are not normatively deliver on science. Researchers and teachers often prefer to adopt, at least on a methodological, a realist metaphysics, which assumes the existence of a reality independent of thought, material in nature ([8]). Mention briefly that realism can take many forms depending on the level of reality which it grants to a particular “object”. For example: the concept of table is there in itself (realism of universals), or is it a designation to designate an arbitrary collection of disparate (nominalism)?

All of these alternative designs are of the order of metaphysics, not epistemology, but underlying all epistemological work. As a precaution, and method, we adopted a neutral stance in our presentation, but the philosophy of science and, to some extent, the sociology of science, can not take this neutrality. We will return later.

Empiricism and induction

According to Francis Bacon (seventeenth century),: Science aims at improving the life of man on Earth. It is obtained by a methodical observation, which follow from the facts. This view is probably widespread at that time among the pioneers of modern science: Galileo, Newton, …

One can read in them (in retrospect) a desire to break away from the preconception. Induction naive wants to believe that there is no preconception: scientific theories are based on a sincere and neutral observation. Laws and theories are generalizations of objective facts. In the words of Ernst Mayr, “In the natural sciences, the two elements that contribute most to the formation of a new theory is the discovery of new facts and develop new concepts.”

David Hume (eighteenth century): the “laws” are psychological habits acquired in contact with experience.

Physics is often considered the “paradigm”, the archetype of the empiricist vision: to collect facts and derive laws and theories by logical procedures: induction. This implies that there would be no place in science for the views, tastes, speculation. In this sense, scientific knowledge is objective.

Science is made to the laws of induction and deduction laws to predictions by. In this vision brings together the logic of deduction and induction (John Stuart Mill, late nineteenth century).

Problem: how to generalize? In general, the criteria for induction are:

– large number of observations,

– observations under various conditions,

– no comment conflicts with the proposed legislation.

Result of these criteria, in particular, the requirement of reproducibility: any experience to argue, must be reproduced by peers. However, when we realize that some experiments do not work it can also be an effect of the ability to experiment. For example, Joule’s experiments are not reproducible as they require know-how, brewer, in this case.

Induction and logical positivism

It often holds, France, culminating in the inductive method, the method OHERIC Claude Bernard [1865], widely popularized in the academic world, “observation, hypothesis, experimentation, results, interpretation, conclusion.” In fact this method, like other empirical methods, is already beginning to respond to some criticism that will be made against the inductive method, we will return. This is an empirical method, or inductive, because the observation is first.

Suite (especially) the development of logic in the early twentieth century and (marginally) to the criticism against the formal induction, logical positivism has grown especially in the early twentieth century (Rudolf Carnap, AJ Ayer). This is an ideological inductivism pushed very far. A theory is not even make sense without induction. This “pwr” ran out because of “fighting”.

Taken to the extreme, these positions do not include what is (or seems) unobservable. And Claude Bernard thought impossible that we ever know the composition of the stars as we know now study their composition (external) very accurately. It must be remembered that the very domain of knowledge, in addition to the facts themselves, is never more than temporarily admitted.