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Defining Knowledge

Even if some "evil genius" were deceiving him, he would have to exist to be deceived. This one sure point provided him with what he called his Archimedean point, in order to further develop his foundation for knowledge. Simply put, Descartes' epistemological justification depended on his indubitable belief in his own existence and his clear and distinct knowledge of God. We generally assume that knowledge is more valuable than mere true belief.

If so, what is the explanation? A formulation of the value problem in epistemology first occurs in Plato 's Meno. Socrates points out to Meno that a man who knew the way to Larissa could lead others there correctly. But so, too, could a man who had true beliefs about how to get there, even if he had not gone there or had any knowledge of Larissa. Socrates says that it seems that both knowledge and true opinion can guide action.

Meno then wonders why knowledge is valued more than true belief and why knowledge and true belief are different. Socrates responds that knowledge is more valuable than mere true belief because it is tethered or justified. Justification, or working out the reason for a true belief, locks down true belief. The problem is to identify what if anything makes knowledge more valuable than mere true belief, or that makes knowledge more valuable than a more minimal conjunction of its components, such as justification, safety, sensitivity, statistical likelihood, and anti-Gettier conditions, on a particular analysis of knowledge that conceives of knowledge as divided into components to which knowledge-first epistemological theories, which posit knowledge as fundamental, are notable exceptions.

The value problem has been presented as an argument against epistemic reliabilism by philosophers including Linda Zagzebski , Wayne Riggs and Richard Swinburne. Zagzebski analogizes the value of knowledge to the value of espresso produced by an espresso maker: If the espresso tastes good, it makes no difference if it comes from an unreliable machine. She assumes that reliability in itself has no value or disvalue, but Goldman and Olsson disagree. They point out that Zagzebski's conclusion rests on the assumption of veritism: By analogy, having a reliable espresso maker that produced a good cup of espresso would be more valuable than having an unreliable one that luckily produced a good cup because the reliable one would more likely produce good future cups compared to the unreliable one.

The value problem is important to assessing the adequacy of theories of knowledge that conceive of knowledge as consisting of true belief and other components. According to Kvanvig , an adequate account of knowledge should resist counterexamples and allow an explanation of the value of knowledge over mere true belief.

Should a theory of knowledge fail to do so, it would prove inadequate. One of the more influential responses to the problem is that knowledge is not particularly valuable and is not what ought to be the main focus of epistemology. Instead, epistemologists ought to focus on other mental states, such as understanding. The nature of this distinction has been disputed by various philosophers; however, the terms may be roughly defined as follows:.

A priori knowledge is a way of gaining knowledge without the need of experience. In Bruce Russell's article "A Priori Justification and Knowledge" [30] he says that it is "knowledge based on a priori justification," 1 which relies on intuition and the nature of these intuitions.

A priori knowledge is often contrasted with posteriori knowledge, which is knowledge gained by experience. A way to look at the difference between the two is through an example.

Bruce Russell gives two propositions in which the reader decides which one he believes more. All crows are birds.

All crows are black. If you believe option A, then you are a priori justified in believing it because you don't have to see a crow to know it's a bird. If you believe in option B, then you are posteriori justified to believe it because you have seen many crows therefore knowing they are black.

He goes on to say that it doesn't matter if the statement is true or not, only that if you believe in one or the other that matters.

The idea of a priori knowledge is that it is based on intuition or rational insights. Laurence BonJour says in his article "The Structure of Empirical Knowledge", [31] that a "rational insight is an immediate, non-inferential grasp, apprehension or 'seeing' that some proposition is necessarily true.

Evolutionary psychology takes a novel approach to the problem. It says that there is an innate predisposition for certain types of learning. The remainder is more like an exposed negative waiting to be dipped into a developer fluid" [32]. Immanuel Kant , in his Critique of Pure Reason , drew a distinction between "analytic" and "synthetic" propositions. He contended that some propositions are such that we can know they are true just by understanding their meaning.

For example, consider, "My father's brother is my uncle. Philosophers call such propositions analytic". Synthetic propositions, on the other hand, have distinct subjects and predicates. An example would be, "My father's brother has black hair. The American philosopher Willard Van Orman Quine , in his Two Dogmas of Empiricism , famously challenged the distinction, arguing that the two have a blurry boundary.

Some contemporary philosophers have offered more sustainable accounts of the distinction. Science is viewed as a refined, formalized, systematic, or institutionalized form of the pursuit and acquisition of empirical knowledge.

As such, the philosophy of science may be viewed variously as an application or foundation of the philosophy of knowledge acquisition. The regress problem is the problem of providing a complete logical foundation for human knowledge.

The traditional way of supporting a rational argument is to appeal to other rational arguments, typically using chains of reason and rules of logic. A classic example that goes back to Aristotle is deducing that Socrates is mortal. We have a logical rule that says All humans are mortal and an assertion that Socrates is human and we deduce that Socrates is mortal. In this example how do we know that Socrates is human? Presumably we apply other rules such as: All born from human females are human.

Which then leaves open the question how do we know that all born from humans are human? This is the regress problem: As John Pollock stated:.

This means that one of two things can be the case. Either there are some beliefs that we can be justified for holding, without being able to justify them on the basis of any other belief, or else for each justified belief there is an infinite regress of potential justification [the nebula theory]. On this theory there is no rock bottom of justification.

Justification just meanders in and out through our network of beliefs, stopping nowhere. The apparent impossibility of completing an infinite chain of reasoning is thought by some to support skepticism. It is also the impetus for Descartes' famous dictum: I think, therefore I am.

Descartes was looking for some logical statement that could be true without appeal to other statements. Many epistemologists studying justification have attempted to argue for various types of chains of reasoning that can escape the regress problem.

Foundationalists respond to the regress problem by asserting that certain "foundations" or "basic beliefs" support other beliefs but do not themselves require justification from other beliefs. These beliefs might be justified because they are self-evident, infallible, or derive from reliable cognitive mechanisms. Perception, memory, and a priori intuition are often considered possible examples of basic beliefs. The chief criticism of foundationalism is that if a belief is not supported by other beliefs, accepting it may be arbitrary or unjustified.

Another response to the regress problem is coherentism , which is the rejection of the assumption that the regress proceeds according to a pattern of linear justification. To avoid the charge of circularity, coherentists hold that an individual belief is justified circularly by the way it fits together coheres with the rest of the belief system of which it is a part.

This theory has the advantage of avoiding the infinite regress without claiming special, possibly arbitrary status for some particular class of beliefs. Yet, since a system can be coherent while also being wrong, coherentists face the difficulty of ensuring that the whole system corresponds to reality. Additionally, most logicians agree that any argument that is circular is trivially valid. That is, to be illuminating, arguments must be linear with conclusions that follow from stated premises.

However, Warburton writes in 'Thinking from A to Z', "Circular arguments are not invalid; in other words, from a logical point of view there is nothing intrinsically wrong with them. However, they are, when viciously circular, spectacularly uninformative. A position known as foundherentism , advanced by Susan Haack , is meant to unify foundationalism and coherentism. One component of this theory is what is called the "analogy of the crossword puzzle. An alternative resolution to the regress problem is known as " infinitism ".

Infinitists take the infinite series to be merely potential, in the sense that an individual may have indefinitely many reasons available to them, without having consciously thought through all of these reasons when the need arises.

This position is motivated in part by the desire to avoid what is seen as the arbitrariness and circularity of its chief competitors, foundationalism and coherentism.

It is analogue to the German Wissenschaftslehre literally, theory of science which was introduced by philosophers Johann Fichte and Bernard Bolzano in the late 18th century. It was properly introduced in the philosophical literature by Scottish philosopher J. Ferrier in his Institutes of Metaphysics This section of the science is properly termed the Epistemology—the doctrine or theory of knowing, just as ontology is the science of being The idea of epistemology predates the word.

The historical study of philosophical epistemology is the historical study of efforts to gain philosophical understanding or knowledge of the nature and scope of human knowledge. In philosophy, empiricism is generally a theory of knowledge focusing on the role of experience, especially experience based on perceptual observations by the senses. There are many variants of empiricism, positivism , realism and common sense being among the most commonly expounded.

But central to all empiricist epistemologies is the notion of the epistemologically privileged status of sense data. Many idealists believe that knowledge is primarily at least in some areas acquired by a priori processes or is innate —for example, in the form of concepts not derived from experience.

The relevant theoretical processes often go by the name " intuition ". By contrast with empiricism and idealism, which centres around the epistemologically privileged status of sense data empirical and the primacy of Reason theoretical respectively, modern rationalism adds a third 'system of thinking', as Gaston Bachelard has termed these areas and holds that all three are of equal importance: The empirical, the theoretical and the abstract.

For Bachelard, rationalism makes equal reference to all three systems of thinking. Constructivism is a view in philosophy according to which all "knowledge is a compilation of human-made constructions", [47] "not the neutral discovery of an objective truth". Piagetian constructivism, however, believes in objectivity—constructs can be validated through experimentation. The constructivist point of view is pragmatic; [50] as Vico said: Pragmatism is an empiricist epistemology formulated by Charles Sanders Peirce , William James , and John Dewey , which understands truth as that which is practically applicable in the world.

Peirce formulates the maxim: Then, our conception of these effects is the whole of our conception of the object. This is in contrast to any correspondence theory of truth that holds that what is true is what corresponds to an external reality.

William James suggests that through a pragmatist epistemology 'Theories thus become instruments, not answers to enigmas in which we can rest. Closely related to Pragmatism, naturalized epistemology considers the evolutionary role of knowledge for agents living and evolving in the world. It suggests a more empirical approach to the subject as a whole—leaving behind philosophical definitions and consistency arguments, and instead using psychological methods to study and understand how knowledge actually forms and is used in the natural world.

As such it does not attempt to answer the analytic questions of traditional epistemology but replace them with new empirical ones. Indian philosophical schools such as the Hindu Nyaya , and Carvaka , and later, the Jain and Buddhist philosophical schools, developed an epistemological tradition termed "pramana" independently of the Western philosophical tradition. Pramana can be translated as "instrument of knowledge" and refers to various means or sources of knowledge that Indian philosophers held to be reliable.

Each school of Indian philosophy had their own theories about which pramanas were valid means to knowledge and which were unreliable and why. In the Indian traditions, the most widely discussed pramanas are: The theory of knowledge of the Buddha in the early Buddhist texts has been interpreted as a form of pragmatism as well as a form of correspondence theory.

The main Jain contribution to epistemology has been their theory of "many sided-ness" or "multi-perspectivism" Anekantavada , which says that since the world is multifaceted, any single viewpoint is limited naya — a partial standpoint.

The Carvaka school of materialists only accepted the pramana of perception and hence were one of the first empiricists. Skepticism is a position that questions the validity of some or all of human knowledge. Skepticism does not refer to any one specific school of philosophy, rather it is a thread that runs through many philosophical discussions of epistemology. The first well known Greek skeptic was Socrates who claimed that his only knowledge was that he knew nothing with certainty.

In Indian philosophy, Sanjaya Belatthiputta was a famous skeptic and the Buddhist Madhyamika school has been seen as taking up a form of skepticism. Descartes ' most famous inquiry into mind and body also began as an exercise in skepticism. Descartes began by questioning the validity of all knowledge and looking for some fact that was irrefutable.

In so doing, he came to his famous dictum: Foundationalism and the other responses to the regress problem are essentially defenses against skepticism. Similarly, the pragmatism of William James can be viewed as a coherentist defense against skepticism. James discarded conventional philosophical views of truth and defined truth as based on how well a concept works in a specific context, rather than objective rational criteria. The philosophy of Logical Positivism and the work of philosophers such as Kuhn and Popper can be viewed as skepticism applied to what can truly be considered scientific knowledge.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the book by Roderick Chisholm, see Theory of Knowledge book. This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. November Learn how and when to remove this template message.

A priori and a posteriori. Epistemology portal Philosophy portal. For a topical guide to this subject, see Outline of epistemology.

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary. Archived from the original on 15 October Retrieved 29 January Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Spring ed. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

How scientists know what they know" PDF. Essays on Knowledge, Mind, and Action. Retrieved 31 March Archived from the original PDF on 29 May An essay on Classical Indian Theories of Knowledge.

The Gettier problem is dealt with in Chapter 4, Knowledge as a mental episode. The thread continues in the next chapter Knowing that one knows. It is also discussed in Matilal's Word and the World p. What Is Justified Belief? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. Knowledge Conditions for Knowledge p. Belief, Truth and Knowledge.

A compelling introduction to philosophy. Philosophical Writings of Rene Descartes Vol. The Philosophical Writings of Rene Descartes.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The Value of Knowledge and the Pursuit of Understanding. Cambridge, UK; New York: Truth in Virtue of Meaning: Towards Reconstruction in Epistemology.

Oxford English Dictionary 3rd ed. Retrieved 21 June See also Suchting, Wal. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. The Routledge companion to philosophy of science 1. Empiricism at the Crossroads: Retrieved 17 July Personal construct psychology, radical constructivism, and social constructivism. Exploring constructivist psychology pp. Constructivism and educational psychology. Objectivism versus constructivism, Do we need a new philosophical paradigm?

Educational technology research and development , 39 3 , Rawls, Dewey, and Constructivism: On the Epistemology of Justice London: Pragmatism and other essays. A History of Indian Logic: Ancient, Mediaeval, and Modern Schools , p. Epistemology in South Asian Philosophy of belief and religion , p. Encyclopedia of Philosophy Volume 7. Applied, then to social psychology, it is important to understand the tension, throughout its history, between: A more traditional experimental quantitative approach, which sees social reality as a set of facts to be known for all time by measuring people in the laboratory;.

A more critical, discursive qualitative approach, which sees social reality as mutually constructed between people in the real world. However, I must add that pragmatism and hence mixed methods research is also being increasingly used in social sciences. It will have a huge impact. Let me give you an example of an interview based research that is constructivist:.

Foundations of social research: Meaning and Perspective in the Research Process. Exploring the philosophical underpinnings of research: Relating ontology and epistemology to the methodology and methods of the scientific, interpretive, and critical research paradigms. English Language Teaching , 5 9 , pp. Notify me of follow-up comments by email.

Notify me of new posts by email. Thanks a million brother Salma Patel. A scholastic, helpful post that made me understand the subject crystal clear. On pondering this I came across a blog by Salma Patel which had a summary table that helped with some of my reflection.

My drawing reflects me the […]. Oh my gosh, this is amazing. And so, so helpful. Thank you for making it so clear. That table alone is worth a million bucks.

Thank you so much for the knowledge you shared for us who are working on research as I was confused about these long words but the explanation provided for each word and their meaning, enlightening myself in research terminology for words like epistemology, ontology, and many more.

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Your explanation has made it all that much simpler. Brilliant — thank you!! I re-read this information, and now I am now certain that I am locating my research in the correct paradigm of Pragmatism. So I am also using genealogy, which is part critical. I have been pulling my hair out! Thank you for your explanation at least I can attempt my assignment. I have been really pulling my hair out. Now I can attempt my assignment. Felt like I was a little lost until I came across your page.

Thanks for your hard work! Absolutely useful guidelines as I embark on my doctoral journey. I am busy with my research proposal and your post has come in handy and is helping me clarify my research methodology. I actually understand it!! What a great article and video!

It was extremely helpful! Holistic and very useful materials. I must confess that this post helped to lift the burden of understanding this process few hours to the before submission of my Mphil-PhD transfer report. This is absolutely resourceful Patel. Presented in such a manner that a layman can understand this process. Thanks once again as you have just saved a brother. Thanks for this article and the youtube video. Breaking the concepts down as you have done has really helped grasp these concepts as I commence my PhD studies.

The work is superb. It has assisted me great deal. Great site to make sense of big words in simple terms. Thank you for the insight and simplicity of approach. Thank you everyone for your lovely comments. I am truly pleased to hear this article has been useful to so many of you! Wishing you all the best with your research endeavors. Thanks Salma, this was helpful, easy to understand and interesting above all. The presentation simplifies everything about research. I really appreciate your great effort for helping students who have been facing challenge with research.

Can you use the ontology and epistemology at the same time in the dissertation? Example say ontology of power is socially constructed and my epistemology to explain power is what?

You would normally make reference to both Ontology and Epistemology in the thesis. I am not sure if the example you have given is correct though. So ontology is a topic and epistemology finding how you arrive with the knowledge. Ontology can be positivist or non-positivist, subjective and objective. Very useful, You made this so simple. Well done and thanks for relieving me of some of the stress. Can i only use the quantitative research approach while following the pragmatism paradigm.

Thanks very much for this — after reading many text books and articles and still feeling lost, this was super helpful!! Is it in the Analysis part of your methods? Or is it in Design as it is supposed to influence your whole study? Any recommendations or thoughts would be much appreciated! Hi Natalie, I have usually seen it reported in the methodology chapter — that is also where I placed mine.

I hope that helps. Your information is very useful. I have really enjoyed reading it. I have little understanding of ontoloy and epistemology now. Hello,thank you so much saima,i am very happy that i found it the meaning of research paradigm.

God bless you saima patel!!!! Thank you for helping us to know critical things in precise ;concise; and simple manner. How ever, I would like forward one question for you. Is there an instance in which two or more research paradigm may likely included in single research? Hi, Thank you so much for this. I would like to ask something: Thank you very much. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for creating this post Salma!

Thanks so much salma for sharing the very useful information. I have more learn about various types of research paradigm. Again thanks for sharing us. P, thank you so much for this explanation! Glad to know I have some place to go to for clarity. I wish all reviewers would read your article it is useful and clear. I certainly will keep it in mind for my own future reviews. Hi, thanks for the information. I have a question that maybe you or someone can help me with.

If symbolic interactionism is influenced by pragmatism, how did it end up being a interpretist theoretical perspective? I get that pragmatism states to use the best methods possible, but is there any more information on this? Many thanks in advance.

This is a clear, logical post that provides explanation in an easily accessible fashion. I am currently writing my Methods chapter and was struggling to understand a lot of the philosophical underpinnings piece.

What you have provided here is very clear and comprehensive. Thank you for sharing. I just wanted to say Thank you! Finally, someone who can explain all the jargon simply. I am so much better equipped both in my personal studies and in my academic career. Salma, I have shared this with many researchers and students and keep coming back to it. It is really an invaluable post and you have done the academic community a great service in sharing it.

Just wanting to say thank you. That was extremely helpful. It is just so good! I am a PhD candidate and return to this page time and again. Thank you for putting it together. Thank you for this very useful information.

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Epistemology in a business research as a branch of philosophy deals with the sources of knowledge. Specifically, epistemology is concerned with possibilities, nature, sources and limitations of knowledge in .

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Epistemology, when properly defined, is based on reasoning, which is the method for acquiring knowledge. In turn, knowledge pertains to the facts that are absolute and can never be false. Knowledge itself can be defined as 'justified true belief'.

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3. Choose a spokes person to report back on: (i) how your research brief grew out of your epistemological starting point(s); (ii) any difficulties you faced in agreeing on epistemological and ontological positions in relation to your proposed research; (iii) potential limitations to the research: e.g. First of all, you should realize that research is only one of several ways of "knowing." The branch of philosophy that deals with this subject is called kitchen-profi.mlmologists generally recognize at least four different sources of knowledge.

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Definition of epistemology: Study of the grounds, nature, and origins of knowledge and the limits of human understanding. It deals with issues such as how knowledge is derived and how it . Epistemology definition is - the study or a theory of the nature and grounds of knowledge especially with reference to its limits and validity. the study or a theory of the nature and grounds of knowledge especially with reference to its limits and validity See the full definition.