So that’s what applied epistemology is..

“Applied epistemology in general is the study of whether systems of
investigation that purport to be seeking the truth are well engineered
to lead to true beliefs about the world. Theorists of knowledge, as
epistemologists are sometimes known, routinely examine truth-seeking
practices like science and mathematics to find out whether they are
capable of delivering the goods they seek.”

- Larry Laudan, in Chapter 1 of his book Truth, Error, and Criminal Law, An Essay in Legal Epistemology (Cambridge University Press 2006).  Quoted by Peter Tillers

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3 Responses to So that’s what applied epistemology is..

  1. stephen fretwell says:

    The success of certain scientific projects (say, walking on the moon, nuclear energy) and certain political systems (Switzerland, 1550-2010; Ireland, 450-900 AD) prove that some epistemological systems work fairly well, if not perfectly. Philosophers of science examine such scientific success, extract the method (say, strong inference; Bayesian reasoning) that produced the success, and advocate expanded use of the method. Historians, artists, politicians, and philospohers of trustworthy authority would do well to imitate this strategy, which has resulted in the modern success of science as the most useful “applied epistemology” of our time. Theologians as well.

    • Allen Anderson says:

      I don’t entirely disagree with you Stephen. But your response seems to justify certain “systems of investigation” in terms of their success. THis is either a pramatist view of justification (e.g., scientific inquiry is justified because it is usehul), or it begs the question against the project of applied epistemology. In other words you either seem to be espousing pragmatism, or else, if by success you mean “success at getting at the truth or reality” you simply assume that which AE is trying to examine.

  2. Stephen Fretwell says:

    I am so pragmatic, I actually define truth as statements that when used as the basis of a logical argument always produce observable consequences. The “applied” part of applied epistemology is where I communicate this definition. Hypotheses or uncertain ideas about what is true, when subjected to applied epistemological proceedures (trustworthy authority, inspiring art, validated science, effective engineering) become either proven beyond reasonable doubt, something you can pretty safely bet your life on, or rendered even more uncertain.

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