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SOC SCI H1G Study Guide - Fall 2019, Comprehensive Midterm Notes - René Descartes, Epistemology, David Hume


Department
Social Science
Course Code
SOC SCI H1G
Professor
Jeff Barrettand Kyle Stanford
Study Guide
Midterm

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SOC SCI H1G

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Honors Naturalized Epistemology: Lecture 1 (9/27/18)
- What is naturalized epistemology?
- Epistemology: the study of knowledge
- Naturalized epistemology: applying methods from science
- How do people form their beliefs? Use empirical methods to find out how that
works.
- We can’t learn anything without making some assumptions. The actual
assumptions that we make about how our faculties work are FALSE.
- How do our faculties really work?
- THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN KNOWLEDGE AND BELIEF
- Ancient greeks distinguished between knowledge and opinion
- One is more desirable than the other
- Opinion is what one believes
- Plato: dialogues
- Had socrates argue that knowledge was true beliefs with logos
- Knowledge is TRUE BELIEF
- Conception of knowledge is reached by contemplating idea of
knowledge
- It has to be true, it has to be believed
- Actually believing the thing is an essential part of knowledge
- LOGOS: using a logical argument; reason; word, plan,
explanation, justification
- The distinction between explanation and justification
- Explanation: kind of description
- Justification: normative; meant to tell you what you ought to do
- Explanation is easy, justification is harder
- It is possible for us to explain where a belief is coming from
without having to justify a belief
- Philosophers have for the most part settled on knowledge as true rationally
justified belief
- Knowledge is formed via rational justification
- THE STANDARD ACCOUNT OF PROPOSITIONAL KNOWLEDGE
- The distinction between knowing how and knowing that
- Knowing how is instinctive/ intuition; knowing that is not, it is in
rational justification (propositionally)
- Propositions are something that can be true/ false
- Knowing how: natural instinct, intuition, learned behavior
- Knowing that: true rationally justified belief
- People believe a wide variety of things. (might be an overstatement)
- Believing stuff is cheap. What’s this knowledge stuff?
- EX: Flat Earth
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- Charles Johnson (1924-2001)
- The standard account of propositional knowledge
- Agent X knows proposition P if and only if:
- X believes P (I take the thing to be true)
- P is true (the thing actually is true)
- X has rational justification for believing P
- Each component i considered necessary and are considered sufficient
together
- Suppose someone wanted to know whether Barack Hussein Obama II was born in
the United States
- What would it take?
- Belief, rational justification, and truth
- But what should count as rational justification for the belief?
- Suppose the next president says Obama wasn’t born in the US
- Should my beliefs change?
- After seeing long form birth certificate, is it still possible to believe that he
wasn't born in the US?
- The limits and structure of knowledge
- Rational justification and the persistent skeptic
- The problem of justification: should one try to reply to the persistent
skeptic? If so, how?
- If one tried to reply, one of three things will happen:
- (1) One might find the foundations of knowledge
- (2) Get involved in an infinite regress
- (3) Get involved in circular justification
- A foundationalist with respect to rational justification aims for:
- The foundations of knowledge
- A coherentist with respect to rational justification is willing to settle for
(2) or (3)
- Important: there is a good argument that it is impossible to satisfy the
persistent skeptic
- Descartes was aiming for (1)
- Descartes Reading (The Meditations)
- Standard rational justification: if he is right, he cannot possibly be wrong
- RENE DESCARTES (1596-1650)
- Born in Descartes, France
- Taught by the Jesuits
- Joined the army of Maurice of Nassau in 1618 and fought in the thirty
years war
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- Noticed that people tend to believe whatever the people around them
believe
- Common belief is not a reliable guide to truth
- Philosophical project: find genuine knowledge, not biased opinion
- Foundationalist and rationalist
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