Constructive Empiricism: Epistemology and the Philosophy of by P. Dicken

By P. Dicken

Positive empiricism is not only a view concerning the objective of technological know-how; it's also a view in regards to the epistemological framework within which one may still debate the purpose of technology. this is often the point of interest of this ebook – now not with medical fact, yet with how one should still argue approximately clinical fact.

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What is contentious however is van Fraassen’s conclusion that our weather forecaster is irrational because of his violation of the Reflection Principle. The worry is easier to see in the second example: if our weather forecaster knows now that his own procedures for updating his subjective probabilities will change his prediction from 80 per cent to 20 per cent, then he must know now what additional piece of evidence it is that will cause him to revise his prediction ( . . ‘the wind is starting to drop’).

Simple epistemic caution entails that my degree of belief in E – my subjective probability about coming to be certain of the truth of the theory of evolution tomorrow – need not be particularly high. 4. 2. Both probabilities seem prima facie perfectly Epistemic Voluntarism 35 reasonable, and indeed, one may even argue that maintaining a healthy degree of scepticism concerning the accuracy of one’s own future opinions is a highly desirable epistemic virtue. But from these simple probabilities, van Fraassen argues, it is possible to construct a very straightforward strategy for fleecing me at the track.

Yet it is no part of the Bayesian machinery – and thus on this view, no part of the epistemological project per se – as to the origin of the beliefs that are to be updated; that is to say, one can assign any prior probability that one likes to a proposition, provided one is prepared to update that probability in the manner specified. Thus, just as with the epistemic voluntarist, Bayesians deny that there is any independent justifications available for our current beliefs; yet they also deny that their position succumbs to a debilitating scepticism, since even if we cannot be completely justified in our beliefs, we can at least be completely justified in our assessments of how much more or less likely our beliefs are, conditional on any new piece of evidence.

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