Reasonable epistemology

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This chapter is a sketch of the epistemology of reasonableness. It is only a sketch, because meta-rationalism is much less concerned with epistemology than rationalism is (and much more concerned with ontology).

The epistemological categories—inference, truth, belief, and so on—are richer, more complex, more diverse, and more nebulous in reality than in rationalist theories.

The rationalist theory is that an individual’s beliefs are a set of (proposition, truth value) pairs. The virtues of this theory are that it is crisp and simple. Its defects are that it is metaphysical and wrong. Propositions are acknowledged to be non-physical, and rationalism fails to explain scientific knowledge.

A better alternative should understand believing empirically, as a complex, contingent, diverse natural phenomenon: more like biochemistry than mathematics. The defects of any such understanding are that it is nebulous and complex. Its virtue is that, with adequate empirical grounding, it can be roughly right.

The ethnomethodological flip redirects attention from hypothetical things-in-the-head to observable activities. That suggests studying occasions of believing, rather than static beliefs.

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This page is in the section Part Two: Taking reasonableness seriously,
      which is in In the Cells of the Eggplant.

The next page in this section is ⚒︎ Reasonable ontology.

The previous page is How we refer.

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