Philosophy Essay Sample on Knowledge, Belief, and Reason

Published: 2019-11-18
Philosophy Essay Sample on Knowledge, Belief, and Reason
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Knowledge Philosophy
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1831 words
16 min read

A common assumption about philosophy is that majorly, theory takes eminence. Much of the reasoning has followed a particular concept over time and shifting to experiments, in a way, makes the idea of philosophy come out being scientific rather than theoretical. Experimental Epistemology refers to the use of innovative aspects to help in getting a clear picture of debates within epistemology. Just what happens, if through experiment, someone finds out that something goes against a pre-conceived logic? Should the new information, based on scientific features replace the logic? While experimental epistemology may come out as a way that philosophy takes note of scientific aspect of the subject matter that it sets out to describe, in a way, it takes a description and value new stance rather than independent attitude. The paper takes a look at experimental epistemology in full breadth taking note of the critics position regarding its application. Similarly, it also indicates the applicability of the empirical epistemology, taking note of the fundamental developmental importance. As days go by, people have to show the need to intertwining disciplines so that they can enrich each other. In a way, experimental philosophy is a mode of enhancing philosophy through the use of innovative means (scientific methods). Experimental philosophy has been used to explain issues to do with knowledge, belief, and reason, amongst many others most of which imply the development importance of the same at full emergence (Weinberg and Alexander, 2007).

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Experimental Epistemology

This is an emerging field of philosophical inquiry. It uses empirical data gathered through surveys and probes into the existent institutions created by people so that the researchers can answer philosophical questions through informed research. In a way, this makes the philosophically theorized issues obtain a scientific outlook (Panillos, 2001). As such, the use of empirical data to bring out meaning in a topic of research comes out opposed to the philosophical methodology reliant on prior justification. This prior justification has been over time referred to as armchair philosophy by many experimental philosophers. In the onset, the empirical epistemology focused on philosophical questions that had an inclination to intention. Here, the scholars would come out trying to prove free will, determinism, and other times the relationship between descriptive and causal theories. Nowadays, the same has gone into other areas of research and most recently; the focus has been on delimiting knowledge and belief and explain occurrences that happen as a result of belief and those that occur as a result of education (Weinberg).

Knowledge, Belief, and Reason

In going out to check the skills and belief, philosophers have gone dark whereby they have used data collected through surveys to determine the differences between the two. Using Gettier problem, to differentiate between knowledge and belief, a person driving in a neighborhood with one barn and multiple facade barns and in the process visualizes and goes towards the real barn may be considered a case of knowledge based on the evidence of vision (Beebe, 2010). However, it may come in as a belief because even if he visualized the facade barn first, he or she may have gone towards the same meaning; the pre-conceived knowledge had less ground to play here. The visual experience is supposed to justify a belief (Beebe, 2010). However, the knowledge of how a barn looks like and the visible barns around only confirmed his preconceived knowledge, which implies that he knew what he was seeing. However still, one could think that if he went directly to the barn that was a facade barn, then it would appear that he was banking on what he believed a barn looks like and not the surety that he had an idea about the appearance. However, what comes out clearly is that there is a distinction between knowledge and belief and this is the evidential support (Weinberg, 2007).

Simply, knowledge should be justifiable. However, it is a type of belief and the extent of belief given information that one can affirm awareness of a situation. For instance, in an examination where a person feels that they do not know the answers but goes ahead to answers, fathoming that they got 95%, the same would bring out different forms of argument. These arguments may be regarding whether the person believed what they were writing as what they knew, knew what they wrote, or used mere reason to choose answers reasonably by removing the answers that seemed far from what they knew about the questions in the paper. A person may say that he answered as such because he knew the answers. This good explanation was given that the student was able to get 95%. Failing 5% only implies that there was a high chance that he knew what he was putting down as answers. However, the explanation that he was not sure makes this fall within the belief aspect given there is no substantial evidence that justifies that he knew the answers. One assumption would be, if the boy knew what he was talking about, he could have gotten 100%, but since he just believed that, he knew, and then it is not know-how. One may also infer that the boy answered based on reason by guessing what he thought was most likely to be true given the less information that he could have had concerning these questions.

The above described have been aspects quite looked into by many experimental philosophers; however, many people have been critical to the practice. Many of the surveys have been carried out to describe the rationalization in people and their capacity to perceive a situation, which in most cases never comes out as a single conclusion given the many ways to view a situation when empirical data is used. In a way, these areas seem vital to conduct experiments on given that someone always gets trouble while trying to interpret them. As such, there is a significant need to carry out experimentation to bring out certainty in explaining various statements. The critics note that one may object directly to the inference emanating from an experimental philosophical act. The critics cite wordings as capable of making an opinion sway towards what the words may be directing the respondents. The fact that this can happen according to them makes the method unreliable and able to elucidate many conclusions. For instance, in the knowledge-how epistemology, the determination whether someone knows how to do something can mainly be only probable if the person would say it. However, the interpretation from people, given a scenario also makes it hard to come up with a unilateral

Extent Experimental Epistemology Emergence is an Important Development

The emergence of empirical epistemology has been a rather significant development. While people may see empirical epistemology as a divergence from the actual course of philosophy and immersing oneself to psychology, in the real sense, use of experimental epistemology is more beneficial than destructive. Here, with the process, taking root, people will not just use theoretical perspective, but also, will be having a chance to intermix both theory and science. Here, while explaining, one gets an opportunity to get their point across faster (Beebe, 2010). The theory part may explain, but someone needs demonstration as to the trueness of the issue in concern. As such, going out and getting data to support an issue becomes pertinent and necessary given the benefits (Weinberg, Shaun, and Stephen, 2001; Beebe, 2010).

Philosophical stances that could have long been unacceptable amongst scholars in various dispensations may now gain acceptance. Scientists accept empirically supported assumptions and not just data that have not been proven. Saying that someone is a cow just because people term it so may be taken in philosophy when people raise evidence that it has been so and by identity, a lot of people have been calling it as so. Similarly, a philosopher may argue that a table is a particular way up based on the role of the table (Panilos, 2001). Now, scientifically, these may be quite farfetched and quite unconvincing. As such, someone may go to the extent of having to do a DNA test to confirm whether the cow is in the real sense what has genetically been referred to as a cow over time. Still, another scientist may use the external characteristics of the same to make a vague determination that which is a cow. When it comes to the table being right side up, the scientists may now go to collecting physical data about the same such as the weight, length, and breadth: all in a bid to determine the center of gravity. While someone may attribute the role as determinative of the position that people affirm that it is, the center of gravity may be the scientific logic. Having experimental philosophy take center-stage would mean that one can take in empirical data to raise a philosophical statement (Beebe, 2010).

Similarly, while science also falls short in coming up with inference in things to do with beliefs and other things that cannot be proven trough scientific processes, philosophy may come to make a clearer path by merging the two disciplines. In this case, the empirical data will come in handy in aiding understanding of concepts considered non-scientific (Panillos, 2001). The product of all this is something that can elucidate much understanding. Still, many people may come to accept some facets of philosophical knowledge that were not that popular in the scientific realms. Having developed ways to intertwine the theory to empirical data based features, it becomes easy to bring acceptance of terms across the divide. Without a rapport, there will still be division. Like in this case, someone who indulges in the armchair philosophy may discredit experimental philosophy giving the likelihood to have an experiment elucidating multiple interpretations and the capacity to sway from the truth, due to errors in research as evidence for their critic. While all these are called for, one carrying a test to bring tangibility, in theory, makes experimental epistemology necessary and an important development for that matter (Weinberg; Alexander& Weinberg, 2007).

In conclusion, experimental epistemology will be a significant development in philosophy given the level of influence that it has so far elucidated. Also, it will be necessary for its intertwining of scientific methods with philosophical theories. Many experimental philosophers argue that most of the pioneers in philosophy used this method to explain ideas and scenarios. If this would be a case to go by, use of empirical data to describe is philosophical theories is a process that is way overdue.


Alexander, J., and Weinberg, J. M., 2007. Analytic Epistemology and Experimental Philosophy. Philosophy Compass, 2(1), pp. 56-80.

Beebe, J. R., 2010. Experimental Epistemology. Companion to Epistemology.

Pinillos, N. A., 2001. Some Recent Work in Experimental Epistemology. Philosophy Compas, 6(10), pp. 675-688.

Weinberg, J. M., 2007. Moderate Epistemic Relativism and our Epistemic Goals. Episteme, 4(01), pp. 66-92.

Weinberg, J.M, nd. Metaepistemological Issues: Experimental Epistemology. Chapter 73.

Weinberg, J.M., Shaun, N. and Stephen, S., 2001. Normative and Epistemic Intuitions. Philosophical Topics 29, pp. 429-460.

Weinberg, J.M., Shaun, N. and Stephen, S., 2001. Normative and Epistemic Intuitions. Philosophical Topics 29, pp. 429-460.

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