Synonyms for fallibilism or Related words with fallibilism
Examples of "fallibilism"
The term "
" is used in a variety of senses in contemporary epistemology. The term was coined in the late nineteenth century by the American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce. By "
", Peirce meant the view that "people cannot attain absolute certainty concerning questions of fact." Other theorists of knowledge have used the term differently. Thus, "
" has been used to describe the claim that:
Another proponent of
is Karl Popper, who builds his theory of knowledge, critical rationalism, on falsifiability.
has been employed by Quine to attack, among other things, the distinction between analytic and synthetic statements.
(from Medieval Latin: "fallibilis", "liable to err") is the philosophical claim that no belief can have justification which guarantees the truth of the belief. However, not all fallibilists believe that
extends to all domains of knowledge.
Additionally, some theorists embrace global versions of
(claiming that no human beliefs have truth-guaranteeing justification), while others restrict
to particular areas of human inquiry, such as empirical science or morality. The claim that all scientific claims are provisional and open to revision in the light of new evidence is widely taken for granted in the natural sciences.
Unlike many forms of skepticism,
does not imply that we have no knowledge; fallibilists typically deny that knowledge requires absolute certainty. Rather,
is an admission that, because empirical knowledge can be revised by further observation, any of the things we take as empirical knowledge might turn out to be false.
is a specific subset of the broader epistemological
outlined above. In the debate between moral subjectivism and moral objectivism, moral
holds out a third plausible stance: that objectively true moral standards may exist, but they cannot be reliably or conclusively determined by humans. This avoids the problems associated with the relativism of subjectivism by retaining the idea that morality is not a matter of mere opinion, while offering an account for the conflict between differing objective moralities. Notable proponents of such views are Isaiah Berlin (value pluralism) and Bernard Williams (perspectivism).
Some fallibilists make an exception for things that are necessarily true (such as mathematical and logical truths). Others remain fallibilists about these types of truths as well. Susan Haack, following Willard Van Orman Quine, has argued that to refrain from extending
to logical truths—due to the necessity or a prioricity of such truths—mistakes "
" as a predicate on propositions, when it is a predicate on people or agents:
For Bernstein, “the spirit of critical pragmatic
represents what is best in the American tradition and has global significance.” Although, for the most part,
is seen as an epistemological doctrine, Bernstein argues that we can extrapolate its significance to other realms of human existence. “
is the belief that any knowledge claim or, more generally, any validity claim—including moral and political claims—is open to ongoing examination, modification, and critique.” Indeed, more than a specialized scientific or epistemological doctrine,
is an ethical and political stance, the outlook on life we need to cultivate if we want to exorcise the Cartesian Anxiety and overcome the grand Either/Or between relativism and foundationalism that affects contemporary culture. Bernstein has consistently explored the consequences of pragmatic
in both philosophical thought and also in broader cultural debates about evil ("Radical Evil: A Philosophical Interrogation" and "The Abuse of Evil: The Corruption of Politics and Religion since 9/11" ) and violence ("Violence: Thinking Without Banisters").
Peirce's philosophy includes (see below in related sections) a pervasive three-category system, belief that truth is immutable and is both independent from actual opinion (
) and discoverable (no radical skepticism), logic as formal semiotic on signs, on arguments, and on inquiry's ways—including philosophical pragmatism (which he founded), critical common-sensism, and scientific method—and, in metaphysics: Scholastic realism, e.g. John Duns Scotus, belief in God, freedom, and at least an attenuated immortality, objective idealism, and belief in the reality of continuity and of absolute chance, mechanical necessity, and creative love. In his work,
and pragmatism may seem to work somewhat like skepticism and positivism, respectively, in others' work. However, for Peirce,
is balanced by an anti-skepticism and is a basis for belief in the reality of absolute chance and of continuity, and pragmatism commits one to anti-nominalist belief in the reality of the general (CP 5.453–7).
Nikolas Kompridis has described two kinds of
in this regard. The first consists in being open to new evidence that could disprove some previously held position or belief (the taken-for-granted position of the observer in normal science). The second refers to the consciousness of "the degree to which our interpretations, valuations, our practices, and traditions are temporally indexed" and subject to historical change. This "time-responsive" (as opposed to "evidence-responsive")
consists in an "expectant" openness to some future possibility. According to Kompridis, world-disclosing arguments are fallible in both senses of the word.
Peirce goes on to list four common barriers to inquiry: (1) Assertion of absolute certainty; (2) maintaining that something is absolutely unknowable; (3) maintaining that something is absolutely inexplicable because absolutely basic or ultimate; (4) holding that perfect exactitude is possible, especially such as to quite preclude unusual and anomalous phenomena. To refuse absolute theoretical certainty is the heart of "
", which Peirce unfolds into refusals to set up any of the listed barriers. Peirce elsewhere argues (1897) that logic's presupposition of
leads at length to the view that chance and continuity are very real (tychism and synechism).
are related to pragmatism. In the context of those, pragmatists argue that the idea of space needs to be able to cope with unpredictability and change. The notion of a community as inquirers emphasises that the idea of place will be sustained only as long as there is a community to support it.
some Gettier-like cases, I am wrong in my inference about the knowledgehood of the given occurrent belief (for the evidence may be pseudo-evidence), then I am mistaken about the truth of my belief – and this is in accordance with Nyaya
: not all knowledge-claims can be sustained."
In his book, "Range of Epistemic Logic", Schlesinger uses probability theory and epistemic logic to solve problems in philosophical thought. Schlesinger's main theme in this book, is that Epistemic Logic can be profitably applied with a small logical investment. In this book, he applies epistemic logic to "Descartes dream argument, issues of privileged access,
, scepticism, understanding, confirmation, and the confirmation criterion of maningfulness".
Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition centered on the linking of practice and theory. It describes a process where theory is extracted from practice, and applied back to practice to form what is called "intelligent practice". Important positions characteristic of pragmatism include instrumentalism, radical empiricism, verificationism, conceptual relativity, and
The evaluation of knowledge or information sources cannot be more certain than is the construction of knowledge. If we accept the principle of
we also have to accept that source criticism can never 100% verify knowledge claims. As discussed in the next section is source criticism intimately linked to scientific methods.
Popper also wrote extensively against the famous Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics. He strongly disagreed with Niels Bohr's instrumentalism and supported Albert Einstein's realist approach to scientific theories about the universe. Popper's falsifiability resembles Charles Peirce's nineteenth century
. In "Of Clocks and Clouds" (1966), Popper remarked that he wished he had known of Peirce's work earlier.
The failure of proving exactly any truth as expressed by the Münchhausen trilemma does not have to lead to dismissal of objectivity, as with relativism. One example of an alternative is the
of Karl Popper and Hans Albert, accepting that certainty is impossible, but that it is best to get as close as possible to truth, while remembering our uncertainty.
Infallibilism is, in epistemology, the position that knowledge is, by definition, a true belief which cannot be rationally doubted. Other beliefs may be rationally justified, but they do not rise to the level of "knowledge" unless absolutely certain. Infallibilism's opposite,
, is the position that a justified true belief may be considered knowledge, even if we can rationally doubt it.
is endorsed by virtually all contemporary epistemologists.
is not to be confused with skepticism, which is the belief that knowledge is unattainable for rational human beings. René Descartes, an early proponent of infallibilism argued, “my reason convinces me that I ought not the less carefully to withhold belief from what is not entirely certain and indubitable, than from what is manifestly false” Infallibilism can be expressed in logic as 'if I know that p, then I can’t be mistaken about p’ A case against Infallibilism can be made by Howard-Snyder, et.al.’s (2003) zebra case:We visit the zoo one Saturday morning and rush to our favorite display: the zebra. In the display labeled ‘"Equus burchelli"’ we see what looks like a zebra. Naturally enough, we believe that "there’s a zebra". However, suppose that last night the zookeeper, Fred, inadvertently poisoned the zoo’s only zebra, Zak, and in order to keep zoo-goers from being disappointed, painted his mule, Moses, to look exactly like Zak.
Critical common-sensism, treated by Peirce as a consequence of his pragmatism, is his combination of Thomas Reid's common-sense philosophy with a
that recognizes that propositions of our more or less vague common sense now indubitable may later come into question, for example because of transformations of our world through science. It includes efforts to work up in tests genuine doubts for a core group of common indubitables that vary slowly if at all.
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