The Problem with Epistemology

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arakish's picture
The Problem with Epistemology

I have seen this term thrown around by many theists who have visited these boards. And all I hear is a bunch of whiney-ass pleas about why it is not accepted here. Well...

1) the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope

  • Knowledge is fine as long as it has followed and passed the Scientific Method.
  • Method only if it is the Scientific one.
  • Validity only if it is testable and capable of being falsified.
  • Scope only as long as it is reality.

2) the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion.

  • Justified Belief — is nothing more than a fancy term for faith. It attempts to understand the justification of propositions and beliefs. In other words a fanciful synonym for Religious Apologetics.
  • Opinion a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge. Everyone has one.

Only definition 1 would be acceptable with the listed stipulations.

rmfr

P.S. — OK. JoC and Calhais, have at it... Y'all are the only ones here with a lot to say...

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JoC's picture
“Knowledge is fine as long as

“Knowledge is fine as long as it has followed and passed the Scientific Method.
Method only if it is the Scientific one.
Validity only if it is testable and capable of being falsified.
Scope only as long as it is reality.”

Okay let’s go with this. Please prove the validity of all these statements using the scientific method.

If you can’t, the best you can say is that you simply have faith in the method since it cannot be verified scientifically.

Nyarlathotep's picture
JoC - Please prove the

JoC - Please prove the validity of all these statements using the scientific method.

Demanding science prove something is like demanding that a broom fly you to the moon. It just isn't capable of that task.

JoC's picture
Fair enough. Replace “Prove”

Fair enough. Replace “Prove” with

“Show evidence to substantiate the claim that...”

Better?

calhais's picture
Unless proof is defined

Unless proof is defined accordingly--and it often is.

calhais's picture
Alternately, proving these

Alternately, proving these things with the scientific method would be circular and therefore tautological, which, if left unjustified as a whole, would likewise be based on faith, perhaps in axiomatic form.

Greensnake's picture
Joc,

Joc,

What do you call our landing of 12 men on the moon? That's a pretty powerful verification of our scientific and engineering understanding!

JoC's picture
Okay. That's not what I'm

Okay. That's not what I'm arguing against. I believe that scientific methods and knowledge about engineering are great tools to explain the wold we live in. I am an engineer so I do know this first hand.

What I am questioning is the idea that all knowledge can only be known through science. Or that we should only limit ourselves to the scientific form of knowledge. As these are knowledge claims by themselves, they would need to be verified scientifically... which you can't do.

arakish's picture
What I am questioning is the

What I am questioning is the idea that all knowledge can only be known through science. Or that we should only limit ourselves to the scientific form of knowledge. As these are knowledge claims by themselves, they would need to be verified scientifically... which you can't do.

OK. You have stated your claim. Now prove it.

rmfr

JoC's picture
Actually, the OP has stated

Actually, the OP has stated the claim first which they cannot do. But I'll bite.

The statement itself, "all knowledge claims need to be verified scientifically" is a philosophical claim... NOT a scientific one. As such, it cannot be evidenced with scientific methods but with philosophical methods. As such, the claim itself needs to appeal outside of scientific inquiry to be shown to be true. But once you appeal to something outside of scientific inquiry to show something to be true, you're already contradicting yourself in the assertion. As such, the claim itself is what we'd call a self-refuting proposition.

arakish's picture
Thus I guess if I said the

Thus I guess if I said the sky is blue, it could only be verified through philosophy?

rmfr

JoC's picture
Is that what I said? All I

Is that what I said? All I said was that the proposition that "all knowledge must only be scientific" must essentially appeal to philosophy (which is outside of science).

As to your question, no. It could be verified through science. You seem to think I don't put any weight to scientific inquiry. I do! Very much so. I'm actually a huge science geek and an engineer by profession.

Sheldon's picture
"What I am questioning is the

"What I am questioning is the idea that all knowledge can only be known through science."

What evidence have you that there is knowledge science can't explain? What method are you implying is better than science to explain anything, and how are you evidencing this? The problem here is quite common in apologetics, people who believe things they say science can't detect or evidence have a burden of proof they can't meet, so they make a reverse claim, asking for evidence that " all knowledge can only be known through science". We know because we have ample evidence that science can objectively study and explain natural phenomena, just as we know that natural phenomena exist, now what evidence can anyone demonstrate that there is anything other than the natural physical universe to detect? Also what method did you use to evidence this idea, assuming you can evidence it?

I don't claim we can only know things using science, because I don't need to make such a claim, as I am not aware of any knowledge that's been properly evidenced that science can not examine at all. The best apologetics can muster is to point to something we don't understand and claim science can't explain it, but this doesn't mean science is flawed, as science may one day explain it, or there may be nothing there for science to explain.

Lets say someone claims they believe something that can't be detected in any empirical way, so science can't falsify their claim or belief. Now they assume the fault lies with science, but it is axiomatic that non existent things can't be detected in any empirical way. So until someone can demonstrate some sort of credible objective evidence that something outside of the natural physical world and universe exists, I see no reason to assume there are things science will never be able to detect or explain.

JoC's picture
Here's the thing. My

Here's the thing. My objection was to the OP which did claim that science is the only way we could know things. My contention is only that there do exist other fields of knowledge which are not science. You claim that maybe science will get there some day and that may very well be the case.

However, these other fields of knowledge are already able to explain certain things very well without science and which science cannot answer today, should we wait for scientists to figure all of this out or should be embrace these other fields of knowledge now. By other fields of knowledge, I'm talking about Philosophy, Ethics, even Mathematics (the study of numbers; numbers aren't physically present in the physical world).

My only point is, by limiting your worldview to a "Just science" worldview, you're actually limiting yourself to the bigger reality of the world.

Sheldon's picture
The scientific method needs

The scientific method needs no faith, as it can be supported by the evidence of it's remarkable success in expanding human knowledge over an astonishingly short time period. Why theists use this old cliche is beyond me. If you are ill do you seek the best medical science can offer. or do you simply have faith that the people claiming they know what is wrong with you will get it right? It's an absurd argument that science requires faith, it is the very antithesis of faith based beliefs.

calhais's picture
I may have a lot to say, but

I have a lot to say, but the point is to hear what everyone has to say and see who agrees, and why; if you aren't going to participate, then there isn't much of a point, and you know it. If you're rather sincere, then let's talk.

1) the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope

Knowledge is fine as long as it has followed and passed the Scientific Method.
Method only if it is the Scientific one.
Validity only if it is testable and capable of being falsified.
Scope only as long as it is reality.

Fine. That's wonderful abstraction, but what has it got to do with specifics - with the important part of reality? Give an example of something you think you know and explain how this system demonstrates (1) that you know it, and (2) how you know that you can know it. Alternately, consider this line of questioning:

  1. Why is knowledge only `fine' if it has `passed' the scientific method?
  2. How do you know whether something is testable or falsifiable?
  3. What is reality? Is reality just a set of propositions--the ones that have been validated by the scientific method? What makes your definition for what you consider reality useful, and how do you know that it is useful without relying on claims that are a part of that `reality'? Keep in mind that justifying the definition of reality by using propositions that it accepts as `real' is circular reasoning, which your other commentary suggests you fear.
Thinker's picture
is that not by definition

is that not by definition tautological reasoning? Or circular reasoning? I would like to hear a different rationalization for what "reality" is. Saying that we dont have a clear justification for reality is just another tautological expression of circular reasoning which takes us nowhere. I am asking,, not sharpshooting your reasoning. I would genuinely like to know the difference

Sapporo's picture
The scientific method is

The scientific method is results based.

JoC's picture
Did you use the scientific

Did you use the scientific method to show this?

Sapporo's picture
JoC: Did you use the

JoC: Did you use the scientific method to show this?

The nature of the scientific method is that the results should match observation.

JoC's picture
Well, actually, I'd agree

Well, actually, I'd agree with you there. Though one could say your statement is circular as you're simply defining what the scientific method is. That's not what's being argued about, though. What is being argued about is whether the scientific method should be the sole basis upon which knowledge is to be entertained.

Sapporo's picture
“I believe that a scientist

“I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy – and when he talks about a nonscientific matter, he sounds as naive as anyone untrained in the matter.” ― Richard Feynman

calhais's picture
Do you have anything of

Do you have anything of substance to write? Be forward. Throwing out quips and quotes alone and expecting the users you're preaching to to read between the lines while ignoring the others is a pretty worthless thing to do.

calhais's picture
That isn't a helpful way to

That isn't a helpful way to put whatever you're trying to say because it isn't clear and it isn't sufficiently expository.

Sapporo's picture
calais: That isn't a helpful

calais: That isn't a helpful way to put whatever you're trying to say because it isn't clear and it isn't sufficiently expository.

What do you mean by that?

calhais's picture
I mean that one-liners aren't

I mean that one-liners aren't going to get you anywhere. If you have a one-line response, then you've overburdened the words that make it up. At least define the key words to give some context.

The nature of the scientific method is that the results should match observation.

That isn't the clearest way to put what you seem to mean. If when you wrote that, you simply meant that the scientific method works toward matching results to observation, then you should write that and then, given this context, explain how the scientific method does that. If that isn't what you meant, then you ought to go on to say what you mean by `nature of.'

Most importantly, what you wrote didn't answer the only thing that JoC asked: ``did you use the scientific method to prove that?'' Maybe you meant to post your comment as a reply to the OP instead, but if not, then you should have an explicit answer to JoC's question.

Sapporo's picture
calhais's picture

calhais:

I mean that one-liners aren't going to get you anywhere. If you have a one-line response, then you've overburdened the words that make it up. At least define the key words to give some context.

The nature of the scientific method is that the results should match observation.

That isn't the clearest way to put what you seem to mean. If when you wrote that, you simply meant that the scientific method works toward matching results to observation, then you should write that and then, given this context, explain how the scientific method does that. If that isn't what you meant, then you ought to go on to say what you mean by `nature of.'

Most importantly, what you wrote didn't answer the only thing that JoC asked: ``did you use the scientific method to prove that?'' Maybe you meant to post your comment as a reply to the OP instead, but if not, then you should have an explicit answer to JoC's question.

I wasn't asked how the scientific method works toward matching results to observation - I didn't say that it necessarily does, either. The results of the scientific method and observation should be the same thing.

In my view, my answer to JoC's question was therefore sufficient.

calhais's picture
You response to JoC's

You response to JoC's question didn't translate into a `yes,' `no,' or otherwise qualified answer because it didn't address the proposition in question--that the scientific method can be used to show that the scientific method is results based. I'm glad that you've made your response clearer by writing,

the results of the scientific method and observation should be the same thing,

but all you did was move the goalpost since JoC's question, having considered this statement of yours, reads as `can you use the scientific method to show that the results of the scientific method and observation should be the same thing?' JoC's underlying point was that it's hard if not impossible to prove claims about the nature scientific method using the scientific method, and you avoided agreeing with or contesting that underlying claim. Since I've written it out for you now, it would be good to see what you think.

Greensnake's picture
Joc,

Joc,

The "scientific method" is a collection of assorted methods and procedures that builds credible models of the real world. Credibility is gained (among other things) when a model is very successful in predicting aspects of the real world.

JoC's picture
That’s not under contention

That’s not under contention though. No doubt the scientific methods successfully predict aspects of the physical world. That’s precisely what science is. What’s under contention is that all knowledge must use a scientific methodology. However, the claim itself must be shown using scientific methodology.

Unable to sustantiate the claim that all knowledge must go through the scientific method to be acceptable using the scientific method means the claim is at most a faith claim.

Sheldon's picture
Sapporo "The scientific

Sapporo "The scientific method is results based."

JoC "Did you use the scientific method to show this?"

Are you saying we can't objectively evidence the claim, and test the conclusion? Science is observation, evidence gathering, and basing conclusions on that evidence, then testing your conclusion or model against reality, and finding ways to falsify it. That sounds to me like Sapparo's claim is falsifiable, and could therefore be tested using the scientific method.

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