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Epistemic Principles

A Primer for the Theory of Knowledge


Nicholas Rescher

Epistemic Principles: A Primer of the Theory of Knowledge presents a compact account of the basic principles of the theory of knowledge. In doing this, Nicholas Rescher aims to fill the current gap in contemporary philosophical theory of knowledge with a comprehensive analysis of epistemological fundamentals. The book is not a mere inventory of such rules and principles, but rather interweaves them into a continuous exposition of basic issues. Written at a user-friendly and accessible level, Epistemic Principles is an essential addition for both advanced undergraduate and graduate courses in epistemology.
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Chapter 5. Presumption as a Pathway to Plausibility


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A presumption is a principle that qualifies claims as good candidates for acceptance, and plausibility is the status of claims that are so qualified. A claim is plausible when there is warrant for viewing it as potentially acceptable, and a presumption is a principle that provides for such warrant, qualifying claims as decidedly eligible for acceptance.

Presumption affords means of filling in what would otherwise be a gap in our information. Thus let it be that—in the absence of further relevant information—we wish to know what someone is going to do, for example, an enemy in warfare. Then, given that we know nothing further, we are going to ask ourselves what any reasonable person could do: in the circumstances. What we thus do is to enter in the presumption of rationality with respect to the agent at issue, crediting him with proceeding on this basis as long as this is compatible with our otherwise available information.

Some key instances of appropriate presumption are:

• Presumption of rationality: people act reasonably

• Principles or normalcy: situations are normal

• Presumptions of reliability: people speak truly

• Presumptions of communicative standardness: words have their customary meaning ← 23 | 24 →

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