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Epistemology

This was part of my class to Postgraduate research students
by

Emily Ryall

on 15 September 2016

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Transcript of Epistemology

Research must aim at knowledge generation
But what is knowledge?
What is the point of research?
Distinction between:
Knowing how
Knowing that
Theoretical knowledge
Practical knowledge
'Justified true belief'
What makes something justified?
What makes something true?
It doesn't make sense to say 'I know X but I don't believe X'
Knowledge is also dependent on truth
Problem of the infinite regress
Justification has to end somewhere...
but then the problem is that this means all knowledge rests on unjustified belief!
'Empirical truths'
What counts as evidence in research?
"The nature of evidence is connected to the source of those concepts and categories, the matrix of disciplinary principles within which we are working - roughly, the academic discipline."
(McFee, 2010, p72.)
Scientia (Lt.)
Knowledge
Epistemology (Gr.)
Knowledge
Account / explanation
Episteme
Logos
What counts as science?
Scientism
The view that a scientific (objective, value-neutral) description of reality is the only account of truth there is.
What makes a claim (or research question) scientific?
If it is testable (that is, if it a result can be imagined which shows the claim to be false)
Karl Popper (1902 - 1994)
Advocated 'critical rationalism' (or the critical method)
Falsificationism
This enables us to tell the difference between genuine sciences and pseudo-sciences.
Importance of the 'open community'
Epistemology in Research
Dr Emily Ryall
emilyryall.net
Further reading:
A is justified by B
is justified by C
is justified by D
is justified by E...
Epistemology:
What can we know?
How can we be sure we know it?
Positivism
It is very difficult (impossible?) to remain a positivist and ask serious epistemological questions
Constructivism
The very nature of asking questions about knowledge leads to an undermining of positivist assumptions.
Or... why philosophy matters in research
Does this make us all pragmatists?
Popper's answer:
A knows that P Iff;
1. P;
2. A believes that P;
3. A's belief that P is justified.
Alice knows Gloucester are playing Bath tonight.
It is true that Gloucester are playing Bath tonight
Alice holds the belief that Gloucester are playing Bath tonight
Alice's belief is based on good evidence

Analytic knowledge
Synthetic knowledge
(
A priori
)
(
A posteriori
)
True by definition
True by experience
2+2=4
All footballers can kick a ball
Diego Maradona was an Argentinian footballer
Children will always play
Categorising types of knowledge (Bonjour, 2010):
1. Facts about my present subjective experience or states of consciousness.
@emilyryall
Senior Lecturer in the Philosophy of Sport and Exercise
What is the relationship between knowledge and science?
Knowledge is provisional
Science does not 'prove' facts, it merely provides evidence to support a claim.
Thomas Kuhn (1922 - 1996):
Scientific knowledge and enquiry is based in cultural practices
'Paradigm shifts'
Further Reading:

Ryall, E. (2016)
Philosophy of Sport: Key Questions
. London: Bloomsbury. Chapters 4 - 7.
11. Facts that do not seem to depend on sensory experience at all.
10. Facts outside the range of anyone's direct observation or that could not in principle be observed.
9. Facts about future events.
8. General and causal facts concerning observable objects and processes.
7. Facts about the dispositional and character traits of people (and some animals).
6. Facts about the experiences and mental states of other people (and some animals).
5. Facts about the historical past that I did not experience.
4. Facts about my personal past that I experienced.
3. Facts about the larger perceptible and social world beyond my present experience.
2. Facts about my presently perceived physical environment.
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