(On the Wider Implications of Deficient Knowledge)
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: University of Pittsburgh Press
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Chapter 1 The Reach of Ignorance
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Cognitive ignorance is the lack of knowledge of fact. Error is a mat-ter of commission. With error we have the facts wrong. Ignorance, by contrast, is a matter of omission: with ignorance we do not have the facts, period. By and large, error is thus worse than ignorance. As Thomas Jefferson wrote: “Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is ...
Chapter 2 Questions and Insolubilia
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It is instructive to take an erotetic—that is, question-oriented—view of knowledge and ignorance. After all, someone knows that p when (and only when) they can cogently give a correct answer to the ques-tion “Is p the case?” and an answer is given cogently when (and only There are two possibilities for erotetic ignorance: (1) generic ques-...
Chapter 3 Cognitive Shortfall
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Ironically, one of the prime limitations of our knowledge is inherent in the very nature of language, its essential and most powerful instrumentality. Twentieth-century philosophers of otherwise the most radically different orientation have agreed on prioritizing the role of language. “The limits of my language set the limits of my ...
Chapter 4 Cognitive Finitude
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First the good news. Generalizations can of course refer to everything. Bishop Butler’s “Everything is what it is and not another thing” holds with unrestricted universality. And once continuous quantities are introduced, the range of inferentially available statements becomes uncountable. “The length of the table exceeds x inches.” Once ...
Chapter 5 On Limits to Science
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One sagacious commentator wrote that “the sudden confrontation with the depth and scope of our ignorance represents the most significant contribution of twentieth-century science to the human intellect.”1 But are there matters regarding nature about which we will remain ignorant? How far can the scientific enterprise advance toward ...
Chapter 6 Obstacles to Predictive Foreknowledge
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The philosophical theologians of the middle ages, who loved puzzles, were wont to exercise their ingenuity regarding this question: “If he is omniscient, does God know what is happening now?” And they inclined to answer this question with the response, “yes and no.” Clearly an unrestrictedly omniscient God will know everything that ...
Chapter 7 Can Computers Mend Matters?
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In view of the difficulties and limitations that beset our human efforts at answering the questions we confront in a complex world, it becomes tempting to contemplate the possibility that computers might enable us to overcome our cognitive disabilities and surmount those epistemic frailties of ours. And so we may wonder: Can com-...
Chapter 8 Implications of Ignorance
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The preceding deliberations have brought to light a considerable variety of types of fact that, on the basis of general principles, are bound to be unknown or even unknowable. The categories at issue here are • Certain facts whose determination requires inaccessible • Certain facts involving information hidden in a statistical ...
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Bibliography and Index of Names
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Page Count: 184
Publication Year: 2009