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The Epistemology and Methodology paper focuses on some of the central questions of philosophy and is a complement to the Logic and Metaphysics paper. It raises the questions what is knowledge, and how and to what extent do we have it. ‘Epistemology' is a term derived from Greek, meaning the science of knowledge. The problems here concern not only knowledge and its analysis, but also related notions which are sometimes appealed to in giving an account of it: belief, justification, evidence and warrant. The paper is also concerned with challenges to what, or whether, we can know: the problems of scepticism. The focus here is principally on two forms of Modern scepticism: doubts about our knowledge of the external world as pressed by Descartes in the First Meditation; and inductive scepticism, as raised by Hume in the Treatise and First Enquiry; in addition, one can look to scepticism about other minds and about the past. Typically we take ourselves to come to know things through reasoning (deductive and inductive), the use of the senses, introspection, and we come to retain knowledge through memory and pass it on through testimony, telling things to others.
Methodology is the study of scientific method, and it can act as an introduction to philosophy of science. Epistemology and methodology are interdependent disciplines: one can see methodology as applied epistemology, looking at how our most general epistemological notions come to be applied to the special case of scientific investigation and knowledge; but contributions go in the other direction as well: various elements of traditional epistemology, conceptions of evidence and knowledge, have been informed by study of scientific methods. One key concern is with the problem of induction and the theory of confirmation. The paper is also concerned with the nature of scientific explanation, and the status of theories: are we committed to the existence of those entities posited by our theories; how are we to choose between competing theories equally supported by the data; can theories be incommensurable?
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Sosa, E. and Kim, J. eds. 1999. Epistemology: An Anthology. Oxford: Blackwell. One of the best collections of key readings. (Referred to below as S&K)
Bernecker, S. and Dretske, F. eds. 2000. Knowledge: Readings in Contemporary Epistemology : Oxford: OUP. Another of the best collections of key readings. (Referred to below as B&D)
Steup, M. and Sosa, E. eds. 2005. Contemporary Debates in Epistemology. Oxford: Blackwell. Extremely useful commissioned ‘for and against' debates on central questions.
Huemer, M. and Audi, R eds. 2002. Epistemology: Contemporary Readings. Routledge.
Alcoff, L. M. ed. 1998. Epistemology: the Big Questions. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.
Dancy, J. ed. 1988. Perceptual Knowledge. Oxford: Oxford University Press. A selection of articles on knowledge and perception, it includes a number of essential readings, however; in particular, a life-saving abridgement of Nozick's discussion of knowledge and scepticism.
Pappas, George S., and Marshall Swain, eds. 1978. Essays on Knowledge & Justification. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. A useful collection of articles from the late 1970s, including some key developments of ‘externalist' theories of knowledge.
Moser, Paul K. ed. 1996. Empirical Knowledge: Readings in Contemporary Epistemology. 2 nd ed. Lanham, Md.:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. A useful collection of essays from the last thirty years, now in its second edition; this overlaps in content with Pappas and Swain.
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Peyer, G. and Peter, G. eds. 2004. Contextualism in Philosophy.
Kornblith, H. ed., 2001. Epistemology: Internalism and Externalism. Oxford: Blackwell.
Cassam, Q. ed. 1994. Self-Knowledge. Oxford: Oxford University Press. The title advertises its contents, which are some of the most important discussions of self-knowledge and ways of thinking about oneself from the last fifty years.
DeRose, K. and Warfield, T. (eds) 1999. Skepticism. Oxford: OUP.
Swartz, Robert J. ed. 1965. Perceiving, Sensing & Knowing: a Book of Readings from Twentieth-century Sources in the Philosophy of Perception. Garden City, N. Y.: Anchor Books. A much older collection, put together in 1965, which contains articles on perception and epistemology from the first half of the century up until the early 1960s.
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Swinburne, R. ed. 1974. The Justification of Induction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. A slightly older collection on the problems of induction.
Stalker, D. ed. 1994. Grue!: the New Riddle of Induction. Chicago: Open Court. A useful source of recent papers on Goodman's ‘new riddle of induction'.
Ruben, David-Hillel. ed. 1993. Explanation. Oxford: Oxford University Press. An up-to-date collection of essays on explanation, some of which are rather difficult, but all of which are invaluable.
Papineau, D. ed. 1996. The Philosophy of Science. Oxford New York : Oxford University Press. Despite the title, all of the essays contained are on topics in methodology.
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Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy : http://plato.stanford.edu. Invaluable on-line short essays with excellent Epistemology and Methodology entries. (Referred to below as SEP)
Grayling, A. C. ed. 1995. Philosophy: A Guide Through the Subject. Oxford: Oxford University Press. The first chapter gives a basic introduction to epistemology, with short essays on the analysis of knowledge, perception and scepticism, the third chapter gives a comprehensive introduction to issues in methodology and philosophy of science.
Dancy, J., and E. Sosa. eds. 1992. A Companion to Epistemology. Oxford: Blackwell. Contains many commissioned articles by leading figures, arranged alphabetically by subject matter.
Moser, P. 2002. The Oxford Handbook of Epistemology. Oxford: OUP
Greco, J. and Sosa, E. eds. 1998. Blackwell Guide to Epistemology. Oxford: Blackwell.
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Feldman, R. 2003. Epistemology. Prentice Hall.
Bonjour, L. 2002. Epistemology: Classic Problems and Contemporary Responses. Rowman and Littlefield
Morton, A. 2001. A Guide Through the Theory of Knowledge, 3rd edition, Oxford: Blackwells.
Welbourne, M. 2001. Knowledge, Acumen
Louis P. Pojman, What Can We Know; An Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge. Wadsworth
Williams, M. 2001. Problems of Knowledge: A Critical introduction to Epistemology. Oxford:OUP
Lehrer, K. 2000. Theory of Knowledge, 2nd Edition. Boulder: Westview Press.
Rosenberg, J. 2000. Three Conversations about Knowing. Hackett.
Pollock, John L. 1999. Contemporary Theories of Knowledge. 2nd ed. Totowa, N. J.: Rowman & Littlefield. A good, but fairly hard introduction to epistemology.
Moser, P., Mulder, D. and Trout, J. 1998. The Theory of Knowledge: A Thematic Introduction.
Audi, R. 1998. Epistemology: A Contemporary Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge, London: Routledge
Tanesini. A. 1998. An Introduction to Feminist Epistemologies, Blackwell. Matthias Steup.1995. An Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology, publisher: US Imports.
Weintraub, R. 1997. The Sceptical Challenge. London: Routledge.
Charles Landesman, 1997. An Introduction to Epistemology: The Central Issues, Blackwells
Hetherington, S. 1996. Knowledge Puzzles: An Introduction to Epistemology, Boulder. Westview Press.
Alec Fisher and Nicholas Everitt. 1995. Modern Epistemology: An Introduction, McGraw-Hill Education
Plantinga, A. 1993. Warrant: the Current Debate. Oxford: Oxford University Press. An overview of recent American epistemology, by one of its leading practitioners.
Lehrer, K. 1990. Theory of Knowledge. 2nd ed. London: Routledge. As well as a useful account of recent American epistemology, this develops a defence of coherentism.
Hookway, C. 1990. Scepticism. London: Routledge. A useful review of discussions of scepticism throughout the ages.
Moser, P. K., Mulder, D. and Trout, J.D. 1998. The Theory of Knowledge: A Thematic Introduction, Oxford: OUP.
Chisholm, R. 1989. The Theory of Knowledge. 3rd ed. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall International. A very useful and short introduction to epistemology.
Dancy, J. 1985. Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology. Oxford: Blackwell. A useful starting point for looking at issues in epistemology, this contains a very good account of sceptical arguments, Nozick's theory of knowledge, and a discussion of perception.
Foster, J. 1985. Ayer. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Pt.II, an excellent overview of epistemology, and methodology from an English perspective, expounding and criticising the views of A.J. Ayer; however, parts of it are fairly hard.
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Goodman, N. 1983. Fact, Fiction & Forecast. 4 th ed. Mass.: Harvard University Press. The source of the ‘grue' paradox and the starting point for many recent discussions of induction; this is essential reading.
Skyrms, B. 1986. Choice and Chance: an Introduction to Inductive Logic. 2 nd ed. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth Pub. Co. An introductory textbook on induction, confirmation and probability.
Howson, C., and P. Urbach. 1989. Scientific Reasoning: the Bayesian Approach. 2 nd ed. La Salle, Ill.: Open Court. A very good textbook introduction to the formal study of probability, Bayesian accounts of scientific reasoning and its application to various problems.
O'Hear, A. 1989. An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
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‘What is knowledge?' This question was raised by Plato in the Theaetetus (see Myles Burnyeat's excellent commentary in The Theatetus of Plato (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1990)) but not answered to his satisfaction, and it has remained a central concern of Western philosophy since then. A good starting point here is Scott Sturgeon's short essay ‘Knowledge', in A. C. Grayling, ed., Philosophy. We can distinguish between knowledge by acquaintance, as when you know Paris but not Berlin, with propositional knowledge, where you know that something is the case; it has also been claimed that there is knowledge how or practical knowledge which should be contrasted with propositional, or factual, knowledge (but for scepticism about that distinction see A. W. Moore, Points of View (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), ch.6). According to one tradition which descends from this, we should see propositional knowledge as comprising three elements: a state of mind, a belief that things are a certain way; that belief's being correct or true; and the subject having a justification, right, or warrant for what they believe. Edmund Gettier in ‘Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?' (originally published in Analysis 23 (1963): 121-123, reprinted in Pappas and Swain, in Moser, S&K and B&D) challenged the sufficiency of this account, giving examples of people with justified true beliefs who intuitively lacked knowledge. (Although Russell also shows this in his earlier Problems of Philosophy,. This has set off a project of finding a Gettier-proof analysis of knowledge—look at Sosa ‘The Analysis of “Knowledge that p”', Analysis 25 (1964): 1-8, reprinted in Sosa, Knowledge in Perspective: Selected Essays in Epistemology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991) and Gilbert Harman, Thought (Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1973), pp.120-41 for two responses. A good overview is provided by Jonathan Dancy in An Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology, ch.2; a more exhaustive review of various of the attempts can be found in Robert K. Shope, The Analysis of Knowing: a Decade of Research (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1983); while Scott Sturgeon, ‘The Gettier Problem', Analysis 53 (1993): 156-164, attempts to draw a general moral from the thirty years of debate. See, for overview of the debate Mathias Steup, ‘The Analysis of Knowledge' in SEP: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/knowledge-analysis.
Some philosophers have thought that the problem shows that the attempted analysis of knowledge is bound to fail, and that a different approach to the problem is required. This is suggested by Edward Craig in ‘The Practical Explication of Knowledge', Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 87 (1987): 211-226, and in his book Knowledge and the State of Nature: an Essay in Conceptual Synthesis (Oxford: Clarendon, 1990); and in a different way by Timothy Williamson in ‘Is Knowing a State of Mind', Mind 104 (1995): 533-; 565 and in Knowledge and its Limits, Chs 1-3.
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One question has focused on the structure of justification that a thinker must possess in order to have knowledge. Whenever you are justified in believing something, there is a reason that you have for believing that, but if your reason is also a belief, then it too must be justified in order for you to be justified in believing the first belief—now we seem to be threatened with an infinite regress of reasons. A foundationalist about justification seeks to block the regress by finding a range of basic beliefs which are not justified by other beliefs. For overview see Richard Fumerton, ‘Foundationalist Theories of Justification', SEP: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/justep-foundational. One tradition of foundationalism grounds basic beliefs in incorrigible knowledge of one's own sensory states. This has often been attacked as acceptance of the supposed ‘myth of the given', examples of such attacks are provided by Michael Williams, Groundless Belief: an Essay on the Possibility of Epistemology (Oxford: Blackwell, 1977; reprinted with a new preface and afterword, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999), chs. 2 and 3, and Laurence BonJour, ‘Can Empirical Knowledge have a Foundation?', American Philosophical Quarterly 15 (1978): 1-13, also in S&K. For other variants of foundationalism see John Pollock, Contemporary Theories of Knowledge, ch.3; William P. Alston, ‘Two Types of Foundationalism', Journal of Philosophy 85 (1976): 165-185, reprinted in his Epistemic Justification: Essays in the Theory of Knowledge (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989); Ernest Sosa, ‘The Raft and the Pyramid', in Studies in Epistemology, Midwest Studies in Philosophy Vol. 5, edited by P. A. French, T. E. Uehling, Jr., and H. K. Wettstein (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1980); reprinted in his Knowledge in Perspective: Selected Essays in Epistemology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991) and in S&K and B&D ; James Pryor ‘There is Immediate Justification' in Steup, M. and Sosa, E eds 2005, Contemporary Debates in Philosophy. For views which claim that beliefs can be held with entitlement in the absence of justifications see Tyler Burge ‘Perceptual Entitlement', Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 67 (2003): 503-48, Dretske 2000. ‘Entitlement: Epistemic Rights without Epistemic Duties' Philosophy & Phenomenological Research 60: 591-606, Peacocke 2003, Realm Of Reason esp. Chs 1&2.
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Coherentists deny that there must be a well-founded chain of justification for beliefs, and allow that our beliefs may be mutually supporting. Such coherentism concerning empirical knowledge is defended by Williams in Groundless Belief (Oxford: Blackwell, 1977); Keith Lehrer in A Theory of Knowledge, chs. 5-7, and BonJour in The Structure of Empirical Knowledge (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1985). Davidson in ‘A Coherence Theory of Truth and Knowledge', in E. Lepore, ed., Truth and Interpretation: Perspectives on the Philosophy of Donald Davidson (Oxford: Blackwell, 1986), offers what he there calls a form of coherentism, although he has since become wary of classifying his position as such. For criticisms of coherentism, see Alvin Plantinga, Warrant: the Current Debate, ch.4, and Ralph C. S. Walker, The Coherence Theory of Truth: Realism, Anti-realism, Idealism (London: Routledge, 1989), ch. IX. If you wish to look at variants of coherentism and anti-foundationalism, look also at Willard van Orman Quine's, ‘Epistemology Naturalized', in his Ontological Relativity and Other Essays (New York: Columbia University Press, 1969); Wittgenstein's, On Certainty (Oxford: Blackwell, 1969); David Annis, ‘A Contextualist Theory of Epistemic Justification', American Philosophical Quarterly 15 (1978): 213-219; Wilfrid Sellars, ‘Does Empirical Knowledge Have a Foundation?' (an excerpt from his "Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind") in S&K. Also of relevance here are some of the writings on probability and Bayesianism, see Howson and Urbach, Scientific Reasoning; Mark Kaplan, Decision Theory as Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996). For a useful debate on whether coherence is sufficient for justification see Elgin, C. and van Cleve, J. debate on ‘Can Beliefs be Justified through Coherence Alone? in Steup, M. and Sosa, E. eds. 2005. Contemporary Debates in Epistemology. Oxford: Blackwell.
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The contrast between internalism and externalism in epistemology is in fact more than one dichotomy, and it should not be confused or conflated with the contrast between internalism and externalism in the philosophy of mind or that in ethics and moral psychology concerning moral judgements and reasons for action. Internalists about justification claim that whether a subject is justified or not turns on what states of mind they are in; or that it turns only on facts that are accessible to them (these two conditions are not necessarily equivalent). Externalists about justification claim that the justification of a state may turn on facts entirely external to the subject, such as the causal history of a belief, or on facts to which the subject need not have access. Some externalists about knowledge claim that justification is not needed for knowledge, assuming in such accounts that justification is to be thought of in internalist terms.
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Early examples of externalist theories of knowledge are provided by causal theories of knowing, which claim (roughly) that one knows some fact only where the fact is a cause of one's belief, see Alvin Goldman, ‘A Causal Theory of Knowing', Journal of Philosophy 64 (1967): 357-372; and David Armstrong, Belief, Truth and Knowledge (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973). Causal theories have problems accounting for our knowledge of matters with which we do not seem to have any causal contact, such as mathematics, general truths, the future. Although one motive for such theories was to avoid the Gettier problem, Gettier-counterexamples can be constructed for them as well.
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A more common form of externalism is reliabilism, which looks to the probability of the truth of one's belief. The commonest form of reliabilism is process reliabilism, where a belief is justified or counts as knowledge only if it issues from a process of belief formation which does—and would in very similar circumstances— produce a high percentage of true beliefs: Goldman in ‘What is Justified Belief?', in Pappas and Swain, and in Moser, ed., Empirical Knowledge, defends a process reliabilist view of justification; his view is further elaborated and defended in Epistemology and Cognition (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1986), and in ‘Strong and Weak Justification', in Epistemology, Philosophical Perspectives, Vol. 2 (Atascadero, Calif.: Ridgeview Publishing Co. 1988); see also his ‘Discrimination and Perceptual Knowledge', Journal of Philosophy 73 (1976): 771-791, reprinted in Dancy, ed., Perceptual Knowledge. Goldman's papers are also reprinted in his Liaisons: Philosophy Meets the Cognitive and Social Sciences (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1992). See also Greco, J. ‘Virtues and Vices in Epistemology' in S&K.
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Another form of externalism, in this case concerning knowledge rather than justification, is presented by Robert Nozick in ch. 3 of his Philosophical Explanations (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981) usefully abridged in Dancy's collection, Perceptual Knowledge. According to Nozick, a knower is someone whose belief ‘tracks the truth': two important conditions for knowledge here are given using ‘counterfactual' or ‘subjunctive' conditionals (see the reading under Logic & Metaphysics on conditionals for more on these), ‘Were p not the case, S would not believe that p ', ‘Were p the case, S would believe that p '. For a useful introduction to Nozick's account see Dancy, An Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology, ch. 3; for criticisms, see Brian Garrett, ‘Nozick on Knowledge', Analysis 43 (1983): 181-184, and Crispin Wright, ‘Keeping Track of Nozick', Analysis 43 (1983): 134-140. It is also useful to compare Nozick's approach with that of Dretske, see in particular, ‘Epistemic Operators', Journal of Philosophy 67 (1970): 1007-1023; ‘Conclusive Reasons', in Pappas and Swain; and Dretske's ‘Reply to Critics: Knowledge', in Brian McLaughlin, ed., Dretske and his Critics (Oxford: Blackwell, 1991). Christopher Peacocke's account of knowledge in Thoughts: an Essay on Content (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986), ch. 9, is a sophisticated elaboration of Nozick's approach, but which reconciles it with some internalist assumptions—this is hard, but is a useful source for discussion of, among other things, a variety of Gettier-style examples. For a useful debate on the defensibility of giving up the closure principle see Dretske and Hawthorne, ‘Is Knowledge Closed Under Known Entailment?', Chapter 1 in Steup, M. and Sosa, E. eds. 2005. Contemporary Debates in Epistemology Oxford: Blackwell.
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For internalist criticisms of externalist accounts, see Susan Haack, Evidence & Inquiry: Towards Reconstruction in Epistemology (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993), ch. 5; Laurence BonJour's ‘Externalist Theories of Empirical Knowledge', in Studies in Epistemology, Midwest Studies in Philosophy Vol. 5, edited by P. A. French, T. E. Uehling, Jr., and H. K. Wettstein (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1980); John Foster, Ayer, pp.85-125 (in fact this develops a view of knowledge similar to Peacocke's); Pollock, Contemporary Theories of Knowledge, ch. 4.
For challenges against internalist conditions on knowledge see Alvin Goldman, ‘The Internalist Conception of Justification', in Studies in Epistemology, Midwest Studies in Philosophy Vol. 5. A challenging, but very useful discussion of whether one could always know that one knows, is to be found in Timothy Williamson's ‘Inexact Knowledge', Mind 101 (1992): 217-242, also see his ‘Cognitive Homelessness', Journal of Philosophy 93 (1996): 554-573 and Knowledge and its Limits.
A very different view of knowledge which combines elements of internalism with elements of semantic externalism as discussed in the philosophy of mind can be found in John McDowell's work on epistemology, see in particular, ‘Criteria, Defeasibility & Knowledge', Proceedings of the British Academy 68 (1982): 455-79, abridged reprint in Dancy, ed., Perceptual Knowledge ; ‘Knowledge and the Internal', Philosophy & Phenomenological Research 55 (1995): 877-93; both are reprinted in J. McDowell, Meaning, Knowledge and Reality (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998). Equally challenging but not necessarily as obscure, see Timothy Williamson, ‘Is Knowing a State of Mind', Mind 104 (1995): 533-565, and Knowledge and its Limits, for a development of this kind of approach.
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In talking about knowledge, belief and justification, we often speak of whether someone has reason or a right to believe something: this suggests that epistemological facts are normative facts and so not obviously natural facts. Naturalized epistemology is concerned with placing the notions of epistemology within the setting of the natural sciences—for revisionary naturalized epistemologists, all that will remain of the traditional epistemological problems are questions within the cognitive sciences; a less revisionary response is the hope that some variant of our common sense notions of justification and knowledge can be found within a naturalistic framework. An advertisement for doing so can be found in Quine's ‘Epistemology Naturalized', in his Ontological Relativity and Other Essays (New York: Columbia University Press, 1969). Look also at the various essays in Hilary Kornblith, Naturalizing Epistemology (2 nd ed. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1994) in particular Kornblith's introduction, and Barry Stroud's critique of Quine, ‘The Significance of Naturalized Epistemology'. Haack, Evidence & Inquiry (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993) ch.6, also contains a good discussion of Quine on these matters. Alvin Goldman's Epistemology and Cognition (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1986) can be seen as an attempt to provide a less revisionary form of naturalized epistemology than Quine's, and the second half of this book is dedicated to epistemological issues arising from the cognitive sciences. See also Jaegwon Kim ‘What is Naturalized Epistemology?' in S&K, and Hilary Putnam ‘Why Reason Can't be Naturalized' in S&K.
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Scepticism in this context is almost always ‘Modern scepticism' and starts with both the dreaming hypothesis and the hyperbolical doubt of Descartes's First Meditation. (It has become common to emphasise the contrast between Modern scepticism and ancient, for one influential discussion of this see Myles Burnyeat, ‘Idealism and Greek Philosophy: What Descartes Saw and Berkeley Missed', Philosophical Review 90 (1982): 3-40; also in a slightly abridged form in G. Vesey, ed., Idealism Past and Present (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982).) ‘Cartesian' scepticism is scepticism about our knowledge of the external world. Sceptics may challenge one's claim to knowledge or even one's claim to justified or reasonable belief. One useful starting point is Jonathan Dancy's Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology, ch.1; and two good general books on the topic are those of Christopher Hookway, Scepticism, and Ruth Weintraub, The Sceptical Challenge.
For formulations of both the Cartesian worry and its wider philosophical significance see Bernard Williams, Descartes: the Project of Pure Enquiry (Hassocks: Harvester Press, 1978), ch. 2 and appendix 3; and Barry Stroud, The Significance of Philosophical Scepticism (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984) particularly ch.1.
There have been various different attempts both to state the sceptical argument and to defuse it. Some such accounts allow that one does not know that one is dreaming or not a brain-in-a-vat, but that one does know other things which entail that one is not dreaming: see for example Nozick's account of how to defuse the sceptic in Philosophical Explanations (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981) ch. 3, sec.2, or the abridgement in Dancy, ed., Perceptual Knowledge; for discussion of Nozick, see Wright, ‘Keeping Track of Nozick', Analysis 43 (1983): 134-140; Edward Craig, ‘Nozick and the Sceptic: The Thumbnail Version', Analysis 49 (1989): 161-162; The Possibility of Knowledge: Nozick and his Critics, ed., Stephen Luper-Foy (Totowa, N. J.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1987) contains useful work as well.
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One response to skepticism suggest that one might not know something in one context, or by one standard, but yet know it by another: for a very clear development of this line of thought see Keith DeRose, ‘Solving the Skeptical Problem', Philosophical Review 104 (1995): 1-52, also in S&K; and also David Lewis, ‘Elusive Knowledge', Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (1996): 549-567 (reprinted in his Papers in Metaphysics and Epistemology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999 and in S&K). Lewis's ‘Scorekeeping in a Language-Game', in Philosophical Papers, Vol. 1 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983), first sketched out this approach. Also see Stuart Cohen in ‘Contextualist Solutions to Epistemological Problems; Sketicism, Gettier and the Lottery', Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (1996): 289-306 (also in S&K), and Ram Neta ‘Contextualism and the Problem of the External World' Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 66 (2003):1-31. For criticism of contextualism see S. Schiffer ‘Contextualist solutions to Skepticism' Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 1996: 317-33 (and a reply by Ram Neta, Contextualism, Skepticism and Semantic Self-Knowledge, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 67 (2003): 396-411) ; Williamson, T. ‘Knowledge, Context and the Agent's Point of View' in Peyer, G. and Peter, G. (eds) Contextualism in Philosophy. For accounts that criticize contextualism but nevertheless acknowledge that whether or not a subject has knowledge can depend on subject-sensitive features see John Hawthorne, Knowledge and Lotteries, Oxford: OUP and Jason Stanley Knowledge and Practical Interests.
A rather different kind of contextualist response has been suggested to some philosophers by Wittgenstein's thoughts in On Certainty (Oxford : Blackwell, 1969) see Marie McGinn, Sense and Certainty: a Dissolution of Scepticism, (Oxford : Blackwell, 1989), and Michael Williams, Unnatural Doubts: Epistemological Realism and the Basis of Scepticism (Princeton, N. J: Princeton University Press, 1996). Compare this with Thompson Clarke, ‘The Legacy of Skepticism', Journal of Philosophy 69 (1972): 754-769, and Stroud's discussions of Wittgenstein and also Clarke in The Significance of Philosophical Scepticism (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984).
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For many philosophers consideration of external world scepticism is tied to metaphysical issues concerning the mind-independence of reality, one striking discussion of this theme is Hilary Putnam, Reason, Truth and History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981) ch.1; and a good critical discussion of it can be found in Crispin Wright, ‘On Putnam's Proof that we are not Brains-in-a-Vat', in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 92 (1992): 67-94, and in Peter Clark, ed., Reading Putnam (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995). Putnam's argument is closely related to a form of anti-sceptical challenge called transcendental argumentation: P. F. Strawson's Skepticism & Naturalism: Some Varieties (London: Methuen, 1985) is an elegant summation of that approach, and its possible limits. See also Barry Stroud, ‘Transcendental Arguments', Journal of Philosophy 65 (1968): 241-256, reprinted in Ralph Walker, ed., Kant on Pure Reason (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982). For a recent critical survey of this form of argument also have a look at Robert Stern, Transcendental Arguments & Scepticism (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000).
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Traditionally there are thought to be five senses—sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell—and through their use we can come to be acquainted with objects and acquire information about them and the world around us. Philosophers are interested both in the nature of perception for its own sake, and for the ways in which it connects with knowledge and scepticism. The problem of appearance and reality is both one of how it can be that we can experience things to be ways other than they are, and also how, given the possibility of illusion and hallucination, we can ever come to have perceptual knowledge at all. Two useful introductions to issues about the nature of perceptual experience are P. F. Strawson, ‘Perception and its Objects', in G. Macdonald, ed., Philosophy & Identity: Essays Presented to A. J. Ayer (London: Macmillan, 1979), reprinted in Dancy, ed., Perceptual Knowledge; and Tim Crane, ‘Introduction', in Crane, ed., The Contents of Experience: Essays on Perception (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992). A good book on the epistemological role of the senses is William P. Alston's The Reliability of Sense Perception (Ithaca, N. Y.: Cornell University Press, 1993).
The idea that there is a special sceptical problem associated with perception can be traced back to Hume, see An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, sec. XII, pt I on scepticism with regard to the senses. One can find here an explicit use of the argument from illusion to support the claim that we are aware of non-physical entities, impressions or sense-data, rather than physical objects: for a careful discussion of this argument and the issues surrounding the immediate objects of perception see Paul Snowdon's ‘How to Interpret “Direct Perception”'; and see also J. J. Valberg's ‘The Puzzle of Experience', both in Crane, ed., The Contents of Experience.
Defences of sense-datum theories of perception can be found in Frank Jackson, Perception: A Representative Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977), look particularly at chs. 1-4; Howard Robinson, Perception (London: Routledge, 1994); John Foster, Ayer, ch. II, sec. 10, and Moreland Perkins, Sensing the World (Indianapolis, Ind.: Hackett, 1983). Attacks on sense-data are legion—J. L. Austin's Sense and Sensibilia (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962), remains an entertaining and vigorous critique of the views of A. J. Ayer, as found in his The Foundations of Empirical Knowledge (London: Macmillan, 1940); also have a look at chapter 1 of George Pitcher's A Theory of Perception (Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1971).
For examples of intentional theories of perception, which take the argument from illusion to show that perceptual experience is analogous to belief, see David Armstrong, A Materialist Theory of the Mind (Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1968), ch.10, reprinted in Dancy, ed., Perceptual Knowledge; John Searle, Intentionality: an Essay in the Philosophy of Mind (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), ch.2; Gilbert Harman, ‘The Intrinsic Quality of Experience', in James E. Tomberlin, ed., Action Theory and Philosophy of Mind, Philosophical Perspectives, Vol. 4 (Atascadero, Calif.: Ridgeview, 1990); and (rather more challenging) Christopher Peacocke, A Study of Concepts (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1992), ch. 3.
Whether such accounts can amount to some form of direct realism is a question raised by disjunctive theories of perception, so called because they claim that when one experiences either one is perceiving or one is having an illusion, but there is no common state of experience between the two. Disjunctivism is developed by Paul Snowdon in ‘Perception, Vision and Causation', Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 81 (1981): 175-192; and by John McDowell, ‘Criteria, Defeasibility and Knowledge', Proceedings of the British Academy 68 (1982): 455-79; reprinted in his Meaning, Knowledge and Reality (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998); both are reprinted in Dancy, ed., Perceptual Knowledge (see also Snowdon's ‘The Objects of Perceptual Experience', Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 64 (1990): 121-150).
Whatever the correct account of experience, what makes an experience a case of perceiving something, or perceiving at all? Paul Grice presented a key argument for the view that an object must cause one's experience in order for one to be perceiving it in ‘The Causal Theory of Perception', Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 35 (1961): 121-152; reprinted in abridged form in his Studies in the Way of Words (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1989), and in Dancy, ed., Perceptual Knowledge. But being a cause of one's experience does not seem sufficient to make something the object of perception, the problem of specifying what more is needed became known as the issue of ‘deviant causal chains', see here David Owens, Causes and Coincidences (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), ch.7; David Lewis's ‘Veridical Hallucination and Prosthetic Vision', in his Philosophical Papers, Vol. 2 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986). For a critique of Grice's argument, though, see Snowdon, ‘Perception, Vision and Causation'.
Whether and how a perception can itself warrant a corresponding belief is discussed in John McDowell, 'Knowledge and the Internal', Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 55 (1995): 877-893, reprinted in S&K; in Tyler Burge, ‘Perceptual Entitlement', Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 67 (2003): 503-48, and in James Pryor ‘The Sceptic and the Dogmatist', Noûs 34 (2000:517-549. The role of perception in justification is also raised in many of the discussions of foundationalism mentioned above, and in discussion of the theory/observation distinction—look at the reading listed on this topic below.
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If sense-perception is a key means of gaining knowledge, memory is needed to retain it. We can distinguish between direct, personal or episodic memory and semantic or factual memory: you may remember playing in the garden as a child, but you can only remember that Italy was founded in the nineteenth century, you cannot remember its being founded. For a good discussion of these distinctions see Norman Malcolm, ‘Three Lectures on Memory', in his Knowledge and Certainty: Essays and Lectures (Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, 1963); and C. B. Martin and Max Deutscher, ‘Remembering', Philosophical Review 75 (1966): 161-196—they also argue for the role of a causal link to a previous experience by an argument analogous to Grice's with respect to perception. For the distinction between recognition and recall, and their significance for the role of memory in thought, see Gareth Evans's The Varieties of Reference (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982), ch.8, sec. 8.4. For psychological background, see A. Baddeley, Human Memory: Theory and Practice (Rev. ed. Hove: Psychology Press, 1997).
Could one only directly remember what one has oneself experienced? Sydney Shoemaker in ‘Persons and their Pasts', reprinted in his Identity, Cause and Mind: Philosophical Essays (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), introduces the idea of quasi-memory (see also Derek Parfit, Reasons and Persons (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984), pp.219 ff.), to challenge this idea. For criticism of Shoemaker and Parfit see David Wiggins, ‘Remembering Directly', in Jim Hopkins and Anthony Savile, eds., Psychoanalysis, Mind and Art: Perspectives on Richard Wollheim (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992). But what makes the difference between remembering and merely imagining? Russell in his early views suggested that memory was a form of ‘direct acquaintance' with the past, see his Problems of Philosophy (London: Williams and Norgate, 1912), chs. 5 and 11; for a revised view appealing in part to feelings of familiarity see his The Analysis of Mind (London: Allen & Unwin, 1921), ch.9; for discussion of these various views look at D. F. Pears, ‘Russell's Theories of Memory', in his Questions in the Philosophy of Mind (London: Duckworth, 1975), and for a critique of Pears, see Lindsay Judson, ‘Russell on Memory', in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 88 (1988): 65-82. For a different approach to these topics, look at David Owens, ‘A Lockean Theory of Memory Experience', Philosophy & Phenomenological Research 56 (1996): 319-332.
How does memory provide for the retention of knowledge or justification? Can one know something at one time, such as that Julius Caesar was the first emperor of Rome, retain the belief over time and yet not continue to know this? For discussion of this matter, see Gilbert Harman, Thought (Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1973), ch. 12; Fred Dretske and Palle Yourgrau, ‘Lost Knowledge', Journal of Philosophy, 80 (1983): 356-366; and Christopher Peacocke, Thoughts (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986), ch.10. For more on the preservative role of memory see the hard but rewarding discussion in Tyler Burge, ‘Content Preservation', Philosophical Review 102 (1993): 457-488.
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‘Testimony' is a term philosophers use for talking about learning things through being told them. Is testimony a distinctive source of knowledge, or means of transmitting it, or can we instead explain how I come to know something through being told it, in terms of justification deriving from perception and inductive reasoning? C. A. Coady sets this issue up in ‘Testimony and Observation', American Philosophical Quarterly 10 (1973): 149-155; for a fuller treatment of these issues see also his long study, Testimony: A Philosophical Study (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992) and a useful guide to and criticism of it can be found in Elizabeth Fricker's ‘Telling and Trusting: Reductionism and Anti-Reductionism in the Epistemology of Testimony', Mind 104 (1995): 393-411. See also Michael Dummett, ‘Testimony and Memory', in his The Seas of Language (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993); John McDowell, ‘Knowledge by Hearsay', in A. Chakrabarti, and B. K. Matilal, eds., Knowing from Words: Western and Indian Philosophical Analysis of Understanding and Testimony (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1993); reprinted in John McDowell, Meaning, Knowledge and Reality (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998); and see Jonathan Adler, ‘Testimony, Trust, Knowing', Journal of Philosophy 91 (1994): 264-275. See also Tyler Burge, ‘Content Preservation', Philosophical Review 102 (1993): 457-488, Angus Ross, 'Why Do We Believe What We Are Told?' ( Ratio, June 1986), Paul Faulkner ‘The Social Character of Testimonial Knowledge Journal of Philosophy 97 (2001):581-601 and Richard Moran ‘Problems of Sincerity', in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society (2005) Vol CV Part 3 pp. 341-61.
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Is there a special way each of us has of knowing his or her own mind? Some philosophers have thought that we are infallible in our judgements about our own current mental states—if one judges that one believes or desires that p, then one does believe or desire that p ; or that one's mental states are self-intimating —if one believes or desires that p, then one believes that one believes or desires that p. This tradition of the ‘transparency' of the mind has at least roots in Descartes, see in particular Meditation II, but is now commonly questioned. Even among those who reject the transparency of the mental, many still hold that we have a special authority about (some) of our own mental states, in contrast to our knowledge of the world around us and the minds of others. Various different accounts have been offered of how we have such knowledge: some have thought that there are forms of inner observation or scanning, others have rejected this idea. See the essays by Armstrong and Chisholm in Cassam, ed., Self-Knowledge, for inner sense accounts and for criticisms, Sydney Shoemaker's ‘Introspection and the Self', in the same volume; more advanced discussions of self-knowledge are provided in the (difficult) papers by Evans and Strawson in the Cassam volume. Also look at the entry on introspection and first person authority in the chapter on Philosophy of Mind for a more detailed bibliography.
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On one traditional conception, one knows something a priori where one can determine the truth of a proposition understood without appeal to experience (note that experience may yet be involved in one's coming to grasp the proposition in the first place); a posteriori or empirical knowledge is then knowledge whose grounds rest at least in part on one's experience. It has been claimed that we have a priori knowledge of the truths of mathematics, logic, metaphysics, even ethics. For an important discussion of the notion of a priori knowledge see the introduction to Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (translated by N. Kemp Smith, 2 nd ed., London: Macmillan, 1933; or translated by Paul Guyer, and Allen W. Wood, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997). Many philosophers have been suspicious of whether there can be genuine non-empirical knowledge. Early in the twentieth century, various philosophers sought to deflate the idea of a priori knowledge by reducing it to analytic knowledge—knowledge of logic and of meaning, and treating this as simply truth by convention: a key example of this is Ayer in Language, Truth and Logic (London: Gollancz, 1946), ch.4; for scepticism about this approach see Quine's, ‘Two Dogmas of Empiricism', in his From a Logical Point of View: Logico-philosophical Essays (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1961), and ‘Truth by Convention' in his The Ways of Paradox and Other Essays (New York: Random House, 1966). Quine's critique of the analytic–synthetic distinction, and his proposal that our knowledge in general be considered empirical has been widely influential; Paul Boghossian's ‘Analyticity Reconsidered', in Noûs 30 (1996): 360-391 (a slightly different version of this appears as ‘Analyticity', in B. Hale and C. Wright, eds., A Companion to the Philosophy of Language (Oxford: Blackwell, 1997)) is an assessment of Quine's attack on the notion of analyticity and defence of that notion. For sympathetic treatments of the notion of a priori knowledge see also Ian McFetridge, ‘Explicating “x knows a priori that p”', in his Logical Necessity and Other Essays (Oxford: Blackwell, 1990). (You might also consider reading Christopher Peacocke, ‘How are A Priori Truths Possible?', European Journal of Philosophy 1 (1993): 175-199; and Hartry Field, ‘The A Prioricity of Logic', Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 96 (1996): 359-379, both challenging but rewarding papers. And further advanced reading can be found in C. Peacocke and P. Boghossian, eds., New Essays on the A Priori (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000). See also debate on ‘Is there A Priori Knowledge?', Chapter 4, in Steup, M. and Sosa, E. eds. 2005. Contemporary Debates in Epistemology. Oxford: Blackwell.
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The term ‘induction' is often used for any form of non-deductive reasoning: this includes reasoning from past experience to a generalisation (for example, from the observation that the sun has risen in the past to the generalisation that the sun rises every morning) and inference to the best explanation (for example, the inference that gases are made of minute particles moving fast at random). Note that sometimes the term ‘induction' is restricted in application to just the first of these types of reasoning. The classical ‘problem of induction' is how to justify any form of non-deductive reasoning as a source of knowledge or warranted belief. This is normally presented as a form of scepticism, and Hume is commonly taken to provide the locus classicus of such scepticism, see A Treatise of Human Nature, Bk. I, Pt. III (esp. ii-viii) and An Enquriy concerning Human Understanding, secs. IV & V, although this interpretation of Hume is now under challenge, see Galen Strawson, The Secret Connexion: Causation, Realism and David Hume (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989). For more recent introductory statements of the problem see B. Russell, The Problems of Philosophy (London: Williams and Norgate, 1912), ch.6; and B. Skyrms, Choice and Chance, ch.2.
As with other forms of scepticism, philosophers have sought to combat it by applying a suitable general theory of knowledge: one such type of response to the sceptical problem is to appeal to reliabilism see in particular D. Papineau, ‘Reliabilism, Induction and Scepticism', Philosophical Quarterly 42 (1992): 1-20, Van Cleve, J. 1984: “Reliabilism, Justification and the Problem of Induction”, in French, Uehling, and Wettstein (eds.), Midwest Studies in Philosophy 9: 555-567. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press) as well as the texts cited above concerning externalist theories of knowledge. Bayesianism has also been thought to offer a solution to these problems (for more on which see below ).
Some philosophers have questioned whether Hume presents us with a genuine problem. Karl Popper denies that science proceeds by induction, substituting instead the role of falsification of hypotheses, see Objective Knowledge: an Evolutionary Approach (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), ch.1. P. F. Strawson, An Introduction to Logical Theory (London: Methuen, 1952), ch. 9, suggests that we cannot question the rationality of induction, since inductive reasoning is part of what we mean by ‘being rational'. Criticism of this approach can be found in Salmon, W. ‘A rejoinder to Barker and Kyburg' and Urmson J ‘Some Questions Concerning Validity' both in Swinburne, R. (ed.) The Justification of Induction OUP 1974. Haack, S. 1976: “The Justification of Deduction”, Mind, 85, 337, pp. 112-9 argues that the problems that face a justification of induction face the justification of deduction.
Newton-Smith, W. H. 1981. The Rationality of Science. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Ch.3.
Blackburn, S. 1973. Reason & Prediction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ch.1.
Swinburne, R. ed. 1974. The Justification of Induction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Braithwaite, R. 1953. Scientific Explanation. Cambridge: CUP.
Mellor, D. H. 1991. ‘The Warrant of Induction'. In The Matter of Metaphysics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Edwards, P. 1949. ‘Bertrand Russell's Doubts about Induction'. Mind 58: 141-163. Reprinted in Swinburne, ed., The Justification of Induction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974.
Mackie, J. L. 1979. ‘A Defence of Induction'. In G. Macdonald, ed., Philosophy & Identity: Essays Presented to A.J. Ayer. London: Macmillan.
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The classical problem of induction has been followed in the last fifty years by Nelson Goodman's ‘new riddle of induction', in Fact, Fiction & Forecast (4 th ed. Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1984), ch. 3: we all agree that the observation of many green emeralds is a reason to believe the generalisation, ‘All emeralds are green'. Now let us stipulate that ‘ x is grue' means ‘either x is green and examined before 2000 AD, or x is blue'. Then our observations of many green emeralds would seem to support the generalisation, ‘All emeralds are grue' just as much as they support, ‘All emeralds are green'. But surely, as yet unexamined emeralds are green and not blue!
Davidson, D. 1980. ‘Emeroses by Other Names'. In Essays on Actions and Events. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Jackson, F. 1975. ‘Grue'. Journal of Philosophy 72: 113-131. Reprinted in D. Stalker, ed., Grue!: the New Riddle of Induction. Chicago: Open Court, 1994.
Sainsbury, M. 1995. Paradoxes. 2 nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ch.4.
Skyrms, B. 1986. Choice and Chance: an Introduction to Inductive Logic. 2 nd ed. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth. Ch.3.
Stalker, D. ed. 1994. Grue!: the New Riddle of Induction. Chicago: Open Court. Other articles in addition to Jackson, particularly those by Earman and Pollock.
Shoemaker, S. 1975. ‘Projecting the Unprojectible'. Philosophical Review 84: 178-219. Reprinted in Identity, Cause & Mind: Philosophical Essays. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984.
Elgin, C. ed. 1997. Nelson Goodman's New Riddle of Induction. New York: Garland.
Gemes, K. 1987. ‘The World In itself; Neither Uniform not Physical', Synthese, 73:301-318. Reprinted in Elgin, C. ed. 1997. Nelson Goodman's New Riddle of Induction. New York: Garland.
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Closely related to the grue puzzle are problems of confirmation, and Carl Hempel's ‘paradox of the ravens', from C. Hempel, ‘Studies in the Logic of Confirmation', in his Aspects of Scientific Explanation: and Other Essays in the Philosophy of Science, (New York: Free Press, 1965). A plausible principle of confirmation suggested by Nicod is that universal generalizations are confirmed by their instances. For example, 'All ravens are black is confirmed by the observation of a black raven. However, this together with the plausible equivalence principles, that any evidence that confirms a hypothesis equally confirms any logically equivalent hypothesis, leads to paradoxical results. By Nicod's criterion the observation of a white (non-black) shoe (non-raven) confirms 'All non-ravens are non-black'. But that hypothesis is logically equivalent to 'All ravens are black' (since in general, ‘All As are Bs ' is equivalent to ‘All non- Bs are non- As '). So, the combination of Nicod's principle and the equivalence principle entails that the observation of a white shoe confirms 'All ravens are black'. An influential Bayesian solution to the Ravens paradox is presented in Mackie, J. L. (1963), "The Paradox of Confirmation", British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 23, 265-277.
Sainsbury, M. 1995. Paradoxes. 2 nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ch.4.
Foster, J. 1985. Ayer. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. pp.215-239.
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The theory of probability has a central role, according to some philosophers, in solving these problems. For a brief introduction to the notion of probability and its role in scientific reasoning see the sections on probability in David Papineau, ‘Scientific Method', in A.C. Grayling, ed., Philosophy; and Brian Skyrms, Choice & Chance, Chs. 1 & 5. Howson & Urbach, Scientific Reasoning, is probably the best general text-book introduction to the role of probabilistic reasoning. For more on these topics see the section on Interpretations of Probability in the guide to Philosophy of Science.
Horwich, P. 1982. Probability & Evidence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kaplan, M. 1996. Decision Theory as Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Earman, J. 1992. Bayes or Bust?: a Critical Examination of Bayesian Confirmation Theory. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
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A major source of our knowledge about the world, particularly our scientific knowledge, depends on the use of instruments to detect things which we cannot directly observe. Is there an epistemologically significant distinction between knowledge of the observed and knowledge, or putative knowledge, of the unobserved? One tradition within Philosophy of Science has taken the theory/observation distinction as fundamental; and just as some troubled by scepticism about the external world have turned to idealism, and those troubled by scepticism about other minds have turned to behaviourism, so those troubled by the problem of our knowledge of the unobserved turned to instrumentalism.
However the theory–observation distinction has itself come in for criticism, although in recent years there have been renewed attempts to provide the distinction with a firm basis. The focus of the debate has shifted, however, from questions over the status of unobservables to the question whether genuine knowledge is possible of them at all: modern empiricists denying that this is so (see van Fraasen) while realists (such as Papineau) insist that we can.
Nagel, E. 1979. The Structure of Science: Problems in the Logic of Scientific Explanation. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Ch.5.
van Fraasen, B. 1980. The Scientific Image. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Esp. Ch.1.
Papineau, D. 1993. Philosophical Naturalism. Oxford: Blackwell. Ch.5.
—. 1996. ed. The Philosophy of Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press. See the essays by Fine, Musgrave, Van Fraasen, Lipton, and Laudan, essay VI.
Psillos, S. 1999: Scientific Realism: How Science Tracks the Truth (London, Routledge) Sustained analysis and defence of scientific realism.
Churchland, Paul M., and Clifford A. Hooker, eds. 1985. Images of Science: Essays on Realism and Empiricism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Leplin, J. ed. 1984. Scientific Realism. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Fodor, J. 1984. ‘Observation Reconsidered'. Philosophy of Science 51: 23-43. Reprinted in A Theory of Content & Other Essays. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1990.
Churchland, Paul M. 1979. Scientific Realism and the Plasticity of Mind. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Peacocke, C. 1983. Sense and Content: Experience, Thought and their Relations. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Ch.4.
Psillos, S. 1996: “On Van Fraassen's critique of abductive reasoning”, Philosophical Quarterly, 46, pp. 31-47
Ladyman, J., Douven, I., Horsten, L. and van Fraassen, B.C. 1997:”In defence of van Fraassen's critique of abductive reasoning: a reply to Psillos”. ( Last two entries constitute a more advanced discussion of Van Fraassen's constructive empiricism)
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What is it to explain something? The classic account is Hempel's: to explain a phenomenon, P, is to show how a description of P follows deductively from a description of the relevant initial conditions and certain laws of nature. This is known as the ‘Deductive-Nomological' or the ‘Covering Law' model of explanation. This has the consequence that to explain why P is also to predict that P; counterexamples arise when, for instance, we can predict the weather by using a barometer, but the barometer's readings do not explain the weather.
Gilbert Harman has stressed the importance of inference to the best explanation, also known as ‘abduction'. Discussion of explanation is often closely tied to discussion of causation, and to the idea of causal explanation. For further guidance on these matters see the relevant entries under Logic & Metaphysics and Philosophy of Science. (Also look at reading under Causation and Causal Explanation in the Logic & Metaphysics chapter.)
Ruben, David-Hillel. 1990. Explaining Explanation. London: Routledge.
Hempel, C. 1965. ‘Aspects of Scientific Explanation'. In Aspects of Scientific Explanation: and Other Essays in the Philosophy of Science. New York: Free Press.
—. 1966. Philosophy of Natural Science. Englewood Cliffs N. J.: Prentice-Hall. Chs.5 and 6.
—. 1967. ‘Explanation in Science'. In P. Edwards, ed., The Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. London: Collier-Macmillan.
van Fraasen, B. 1980. The Scientific Image. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Ch.5 esp. secs. 1-2.5.
Harman, G. 1965. ‘The Inference to the Best Explanation'. Philosophical Review 74: 88-95.
Lewis, D. 1986. ‘Causal Explanation'. In Philosophical Papers, Vol. 2. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Reprinted in David-Hillel Ruben, ed., Explanation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.
Salmon, W. 1989. Four Decades of Scientific Explanation. Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press.
Slamon. W. 1984. Scientific Explanation and the Structure and the Causal Structure of the World. Princeton: Prince University Press.
Ruben, David-Hillel. ed. Explanation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993. Particularly the introduction and essays by Lipton, Salmon and Matthews.
Nagel, E. 1979. The Structure of Science: Problems in the Logic of Scientific Explanation. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Chs. 2 and 3.
Lipton, P. 1991. Inference to the Best Explanation. London: Routledge.
Owens, D. 1992. Causes & Coincidences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chs. 3 and 4.
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How can competing theories be compared with one another? If new theories introduce different concepts from older theories, how can it be that the theories are even talking about the same phenomena?
Kuhn, Thomas S. 1970. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. 2 nd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Putnam, H. 1979. ‘The “Corroboration” of Theories'. In T. Honderich, and M. Burnyeat, eds., Philosophy as it is. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Feyerabend, Paul. 1988. Against Method. Rev. ed. London: Verso.
Shapere, D. 1981. ‘Meaning and Theory Change'. In I. Hacking, ed., Scientific Revolutions. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hacking, I. ed. 1981. Scientific Revolutions. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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How we are to separate pseudo-science/metaphysics from science?
Hempel, C., 1965, "Empiricist Criteria of Cognitive Significance" in Aspects of Scientific Explanation, Free Press, New York
Popper, K., 1968, Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge, Harper, N.Y.
Gemes, K., 1998, "Logical Content & Empirical Significance" in The Role of Pragmatics in Contemporary Philosophy, ed. by P. Weingartner, G. Schurz and G. Dorn, H ö lder-Pichler-Tempsky, Vienna
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