Common Sense, Science and Scepticism: A Historical by Alan Musgrave

By Alan Musgrave

Will we understand whatever for sure? There are those that imagine we will be able to (traditionally classified the "dogmatists") and people who imagine we can't (traditionally categorized the "skeptics"). the idea of data, or epistemology, is the nice debate among the 2. This ebook is an introductory and historically-based survey of the controversy. It aspects for the main half with the skeptics. It additionally develops out of skepticism a 3rd view, fallibilism or serious rationalism, which contains an uncompromising realism approximately conception, technological know-how, and the character of fact.

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A surface may appear smooth when we look at it, and rough when we touch it. Is it really rough or smooth? We confidently assume that our senses will tell us what there is in the world. But perhaps other animals can sense things that we cannot. (I am told that one of the Beatles records ends with a tune for dogs, so high-pitched that humans cannot hear it. ) We confidently assume, too, that what our senses tell us about exists in the world. But people have hallucinations, and see things that are not there at all.

But this answer is curious: it says that we know what the stick is really like (it is straight) andjudge our perceptions of the stick in the light of this knowledge, accepting some as telling us what the stick is really like but discounting others. In short, using a couple of useful terms, we use our knowledge to sort our perceptions into the veridical (truthful) and the non-veridical (mistaken). This is curious because according to empiricism our knowledge was supposed to be based upon our perceptions.

The third question, which is the most general question of all, will lurk in the background for quite a while yet. THE PROBLEM OF PERCEPTUAL ERROR Does it ever happen that we declare a veridical experience nonveridical, or vice versa? And if it happens, does it happen because we rely on false prior beliefs? It certainly happens. It happens, first of all, whenever a person is actually fooled by an illusion. The stick which looks bent when half-immersed in water is so familiar that we are not likely to be fooled by it 44 Common Sense, Science and Scepticism Figure 2.

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