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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 18. Problems of Skepticism


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The view that our putative knowledge about matters of objective fact is always potentially erroneous is generally known as fallibilism. It enjoins us to be ever-mindful of the fragility of claims to substantive knowledge and of the never entirely absent prospect of changes of mind with regard to cognitively significant matters.

This sort of position is of course something very different from a radical skepticism which denies the prospect of achieving knowledge at all. Think here of the analogy of the game of musical chairs. Every player is vulnerable: there is no one who is assured of a seat when the music stops. But this of course does not stand in the way of the fact that the vast majority of players will be seated. No doubt our putative knowledge is individually vulnerable through to the prospect of mistakes. But this does not mean that when the music stops the vast bulk of it will not find place on a seat of truth.

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