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Core Concepts

Best Explanation
Divided Line
Downward Causation
Emergent Dualism
Identity Theory
Infinite Regress
Mental Causation
Multiple Realizability
Possible Worlds
Schrödinger's Cat


Mortimer Adler
Rogers Albritton
Alexander of Aphrodisias
Samuel Alexander
William Alston
Louise Antony
Thomas Aquinas
David Armstrong
Harald Atmanspacher
Robert Audi
Alexander Bain
Mark Balaguer
Jeffrey Barrett
William Belsham
Henri Bergson
George Berkeley
Isaiah Berlin
Richard J. Bernstein
Bernard Berofsky
Robert Bishop
Max Black
Susanne Bobzien
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Hilary Bok
Laurence BonJour
George Boole
Émile Boutroux
Michael Burke
Joseph Keim Campbell
Rudolf Carnap
Ernst Cassirer
David Chalmers
Roderick Chisholm
Randolph Clarke
Samuel Clarke
Anthony Collins
Antonella Corradini
Diodorus Cronus
Jonathan Dancy
Donald Davidson
Mario De Caro
Daniel Dennett
Jacques Derrida
René Descartes
Richard Double
Fred Dretske
John Dupré
John Earman
Laura Waddell Ekstrom
Herbert Feigl
John Martin Fischer
Owen Flanagan
Luciano Floridi
Philippa Foot
Alfred Fouilleé
Harry Frankfurt
Richard L. Franklin
Michael Frede
Gottlob Frege
Peter Geach
Edmund Gettier
Carl Ginet
Alvin Goldman
Nicholas St. John Green
H.Paul Grice
Ian Hacking
Ishtiyaque Haji
Stuart Hampshire
Sam Harris
William Hasker
Georg W.F. Hegel
Martin Heidegger
Thomas Hobbes
David Hodgson
Shadsworth Hodgson
Baron d'Holbach
Ted Honderich
Pamela Huby
David Hume
Ferenc Huoranszki
William James
Lord Kames
Robert Kane
Immanuel Kant
Tomis Kapitan
Jaegwon Kim
William King
Hilary Kornblith
Christine Korsgaard
Saul Kripke
Andrea Lavazza
Keith Lehrer
Gottfried Leibniz
Michael Levin
George Henry Lewes
David Lewis
Peter Lipton
C. Lloyd Morgan
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
E. Jonathan Lowe
John R. Lucas
Alasdair MacIntyre
Ruth Barcan Marcus
James Martineau
Storrs McCall
Hugh McCann
Colin McGinn
Michael McKenna
Brian McLaughlin
John McTaggart
Paul E. Meehl
Uwe Meixner
Alfred Mele
Trenton Merricks
John Stuart Mill
Dickinson Miller
Thomas Nagel
Friedrich Nietzsche
John Norton
Robert Nozick
William of Ockham
Timothy O'Connor
David F. Pears
Charles Sanders Peirce
Derk Pereboom
Steven Pinker
Karl Popper
Huw Price
Hilary Putnam
Willard van Orman Quine
Frank Ramsey
Ayn Rand
Michael Rea
Thomas Reid
Charles Renouvier
Nicholas Rescher
Richard Rorty
Josiah Royce
Bertrand Russell
Paul Russell
Gilbert Ryle
Jean-Paul Sartre
Kenneth Sayre
Moritz Schlick
Arthur Schopenhauer
John Searle
Wilfrid Sellars
Alan Sidelle
Ted Sider
Henry Sidgwick
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
Saul Smilansky
Michael Smith
Baruch Spinoza
L. Susan Stebbing
Isabelle Stengers
George F. Stout
Galen Strawson
Peter Strawson
Eleonore Stump
Francisco Suárez
Richard Taylor
Kevin Timpe
Mark Twain
Peter Unger
Peter van Inwagen
Manuel Vargas
John Venn
Kadri Vihvelin
G.H. von Wright
David Foster Wallace
R. Jay Wallace
Ted Warfield
Roy Weatherford
William Whewell
Alfred North Whitehead
David Widerker
David Wiggins
Bernard Williams
Timothy Williamson
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Susan Wolf


Michael Arbib
Bernard Baars
Gregory Bateson
John S. Bell
Charles Bennett
Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Susan Blackmore
Margaret Boden
David Bohm
Niels Bohr
Ludwig Boltzmann
Emile Borel
Max Born
Satyendra Nath Bose
Walther Bothe
Hans Briegel
Leon Brillouin
Stephen Brush
Henry Thomas Buckle
S. H. Burbury
Donald Campbell
Anthony Cashmore
Eric Chaisson
Jean-Pierre Changeux
Arthur Holly Compton
John Conway
John Cramer
E. P. Culverwell
Charles Darwin
Terrence Deacon
Louis de Broglie
Max Delbrück
Abraham de Moivre
Paul Dirac
Hans Driesch
John Eccles
Arthur Stanley Eddington
Paul Ehrenfest
Albert Einstein
Hugh Everett, III
Franz Exner
Richard Feynman
R. A. Fisher
Joseph Fourier
Lila Gatlin
Michael Gazzaniga
GianCarlo Ghirardi
J. Willard Gibbs
Nicolas Gisin
Paul Glimcher
Thomas Gold
Brian Goodwin
Joshua Greene
Jacques Hadamard
Patrick Haggard
Stuart Hameroff
Augustin Hamon
Sam Harris
Hyman Hartman
John-Dylan Haynes
Martin Heisenberg
Werner Heisenberg
John Herschel
Jesper Hoffmeyer
E. T. Jaynes
William Stanley Jevons
Roman Jakobson
Pascual Jordan
Ruth E. Kastner
Stuart Kauffman
Simon Kochen
Stephen Kosslyn
Ladislav Kovàč
Rolf Landauer
Alfred Landé
Pierre-Simon Laplace
David Layzer
Benjamin Libet
Seth Lloyd
Hendrik Lorentz
Josef Loschmidt
Ernst Mach
Donald MacKay
Henry Margenau
James Clerk Maxwell
Ernst Mayr
Ulrich Mohrhoff
Jacques Monod
Emmy Noether
Howard Pattee
Wolfgang Pauli
Massimo Pauri
Roger Penrose
Steven Pinker
Colin Pittendrigh
Max Planck
Susan Pockett
Henri Poincaré
Daniel Pollen
Ilya Prigogine
Hans Primas
Adolphe Quételet
Juan Roederer
Jerome Rothstein
David Ruelle
Erwin Schrödinger
Aaron Schurger
Claude Shannon
David Shiang
Herbert Simon
Dean Keith Simonton
B. F. Skinner
Roger Sperry
Henry Stapp
Tom Stonier
Antoine Suarez
Leo Szilard
William Thomson (Kelvin)
Peter Tse
Heinz von Foerster
John von Neumann
John B. Watson
Daniel Wegner
Steven Weinberg
Paul A. Weiss
John Wheeler
Wilhelm Wien
Norbert Wiener
Eugene Wigner
E. O. Wilson
H. Dieter Zeh
Ernst Zermelo
Wojciech Zurek


Free Will
Mental Causation
James Symposium

The Problem of Knowledge
Philosophers have historically treated the problem of knowledge as establishing the conditions for personal "justified true belief" in the presence of philosophical skepticism and relativism. Epistemologists since Plato's Theatetus have developed a bewildering number of theories of knowledge.

Second only to Kant 's "scandal" that philosophers cannot logically prove the existence of the external world, it is scandalous that professional philosophers are in such profound disagreement about what it means to know something. They may not all be wrong, but very few of them are likely to be right.

This is especially dismaying for those epistemologists who still see a normative role for philosophy that could provide a foundation, perhaps even a priori, for scientific or empirical, a posteriori knowledge.

In recent years, professional epistemologists have been reduced to quibbling over clever sophistical examples and counterexamples that defeat the reasoned justifications for true beliefs.

Information Epistemology avoids the traditional identification of knowledge with belief. Belief is a psychological state that may be disjunct from knowledge. We may empirically verify that a person knows something by analyzing her behavior, without her consciously articulating or holding a belief in that knowledge. A famous example is knowing the grammatical rules for one's language without being able to state those rules. Those rules have been learned tacitly, by multiple trials and errors, and stored in a person's mind.
Human knowledge is information stored in the mind and in human artifacts like stories, books, buildings, and internetworked computers. Knowledge is information that forms the basis for human thoughts and actions. Among the sources of knowledge are theories and experiments of natural scientists, who collaborate to establish our knowledge of the external world, social scientists who study our cultures, and psychologists, cognitive scientists, and neuroscientists, who investigate our personal worlds.

Since information is also stored in animal minds, we can escape the exceptionalist fiction that only humans can have knowledge. Where humans are exceptional is their ability to communicate their knowledge - and their reasons for their beliefs - symbolically by means of language. This is why Plato described the justification condition as a reasoned account (λόγος). For him, true opinion accompanied by reason is knowledge. (δόξαν ἀληθῆ μετὰ λόγου ἐπιστήμην εἶναι, Theatetus, 202C)

Information is stored or encoded in structures. Structures in the natural world build themselves, following natural laws, including physical and biological laws. Structures in the mind are partly built by biological processes and partly built by human intelligence, which is free, creative, and unpredictable.
To the extent of the correspondence, the isomorphism, the one-to-one mapping, between structures (and processes) in the world and representative structures in our minds, we can claim to have knowledge of the world, and of other minds.

In Information Philosophy, knowledge is information that is "actionable," meaning that if we act on the basis of the information our actions will have fruitful consequences. The validity or "truth" of knowledge is to be found in those consequences.

Note that a large amount of the sum of human knowledge is now stored external to minds.

Stored Knowledge and the Cosmic Creation Process
When information is stored in any structure, from galaxies to minds, two fundamental physical processes occur. First is a collapse of a quantum mechanical wave function. Second is a local decrease in the entropy corresponding to the increase in information. Entropy greater than that must be transferred away to satisfy the second law.
These quantum level processes introduce noise. Information stored may have errors. When information is retrieved, it is again susceptible to noise, This may garble the information content. In information science, noise is generally the enemy of information. But some noise is the friend of freedom, since it is the source of novelty, of creativity and invention, and of variation in the biological gene pool. Too much noise is simply entropic and destructive, so the cosmic creation process must not be overcome by the chaos.
Biological systems have maintained and increased their invariant information content over billions of generations. Humans increase our knowledge of the external world, despite logical, mathematical, and physical uncertainty. Both do it in the face of noise. Both do it with sophisticated error detection and correction schemes. The scheme we use to correct human knowledge is science, a combination of freely invented theories and adequately determined experiments.
For Teachers
For Scholars
"The recognition that physical knowledge is structural knowledge abolishes all dualism of consciousness and matter." (Eddington, The Philosophy of Physical Science, 1938, p.150)

Chapter 1.6 - The Scientists Chapter 1.2 - The History of the Knowledge Problem
Part One - Introduction Part Three - Value
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