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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 23. The Anthomorphic Contextuality of Science


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Factual knowledge about how things stand in the world has to be based on “the data”: the information provided or suggested by experience. But there can—and presumably will be—very different modes of experience, different ways of interacting with the world depending on the modes of monitoring nature’s processes that are at the disposal of the agent.

Different forms of intelligent beings whose modes of relating to their environment differ from ours are bound to develop very different theories of Nature, very different views of reality because they obtain a different views of the world. The idea that when the object of investigation is the same, the relevant findings must be the same is highly problematic and the “one world, one science” argument deeply fallacious.1 Alien beings live in common world but are bound to arrive at very different conceptions of it—all in principle rationally warranted by premises acceptable to those practitioners on the basis of their experience. The situation is governed by the fundamental principle that: The different data available to different investigators provide premises that warrant different conclusions.

This perspective enjoins the pivotal question: To what extent would the functional equivalent of natural science built up by the inquiring intelligences of an astronomically remote civilization be bound to resemble our science? ← 132 | 133 → In considering this issue, one soon comes to realize that there is an enormous potential for...

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