Chapter 5 :Epistemology


For logical, semantic and systemic claims there are methods to determine their truth.  It is with regard to the empirical claims about the universe, events and properties of it that is the main concern of the theories about Truth. Perhaps the best that humans have been able to do with regard to getting at the truth concerning empirical claims is the development of a method for doing it.  In Science there are a number of views that are operative in its various phases. 

1. Instrumentalist View  - Pragmatist Theory

The scientific theory makes predictions, the predictions are verified and so it works and it satisfies the community of inquirers (the scientists).

2. The Realist View - Correspondence Theory

The scientific theory provides true explanations because its predictions are verified through empirical testing.

3. The Conceptual Relativist - Coherence Theory

The scientific theory is coherent within a given framework, what coheres or fits in with a system of beliefs

-true theory is that which is accepted by the community of working scientists with its own  CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK

        -independent checks are not possible because all observations are theory laden

So in the end perhaps the truth concerning empirical claims is that claim which :

  • corresponds to fact and

  • coheres with and is consistent with other established truths and

  • has useful consequences for those concerned.

Perhaps what is the most useful consequence of a belief concerning an empirical claim is to correspond to reality (facts) and to cohere (be consistent) with what has already been accepted as true by the same means.

Philosophers shall continue to spend time arriving at a more certain foundation for claims of truth.

For now what do we have?  What is knowledge?

To claim to know and to have that claim accepted by others as being correct is to satisfy the criteria that the claim be warranted.  What supplies the warrant is that the claim be justified and true.  how is that accomplished or established?  Well that depends on the type of claim that it is:

Semantic claim:  Supported by references to dictionaries or lexicons

Systemic claim: supported by the rules of the system in which the claim is being made

Logical claim: supported by and consistent with the rules of logic

Empirical claim:  supported by a process of verification that establishes that the empirical claim  

corresponds to fact and


coheres with and is consistent with other established truths and


has useful consequences for those concerned.

This may be the best explanation that humans have for what and how they know what they claim to know.  It is not totally satisfying to all critical inquirers but it is more well founded within human experience than the position that there is no knowledge at all or that there is no knowledge that is objective or that there is no knowledge that is certain.  There are types or forms of knowledge and within each there are the means to establish the justification for making and accepting claims.



philosophy pages

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Encyclopedia Britannica

The Scientific Method by Donald E. Simanek   

scientific method in physics

 What is scientific Method by Austin Cline   

 Scientific Method in Biology

         Diagrams on Scientific Method  

ON SCIENTIFIC METHOD by Percy W. Bridgman (From: Reflections of a Physicist, 1955)

Socratic Method and Scientific Method  


Proceed to the next section.

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Introduction to Philosophy by Philip A. Pecorino is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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