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PHILOSOPHY PATHWAYS electronic journal


P H I L O S O P H Y   P A T H W A Y S                   ISSN 2043-0728

Issue number 156
21st September 2010


I. 'Know Thyself' by Raam Gokhale

II. 'Luis Villoro on Knowledge and Truth' by Alfredo Lucero-Montano

III. 'Can Hacking's conception of manipulated unobservable entities
overcome the Underdetermination Thesis?' by Sim-Hui Tee and Mohd
Hazim Shah Hj Abdul Murad

IV. CFP: Cultura: International Journal of Philosophy of Culture and



This issue of Philosophy Pathways is dedicated to the question of
knowledge. What is knowledge and how do we attain it? When is it
correct to say that someone knows something? What are the limits of
knowledge, and how does scientific inquiry increase our knowledge?

In his thought-provoking dialogue which makes a useful introduction
to Epistemology, Raam Gokhale considers a number of ways of defining
knowledge which claim to be more informative than the
man-in-the-street's definition of knowledge as just another name for
true belief. Beliefs which are merely true by luck or accident don't
count as genuine 'knowledge'. Or do they? What makes the difference,
if there is one?

Alfredo Lucero-Montano looks at the proposal from the Spanish
philosopher Luis Villoro that we should remove the requirement that a
belief be 'true' from the definition of knowledge. A number of my
students taking Epistemology have expressed worries about the 'truth'
requirement. How can one ever be certain that a proposition is true?
We can only be sure about what we believe. In that case, if truth is
required for knowledge, how can we ever be justified in using the
term 'knowledge'?

Sim-Hui Tee and Mohd Hazim Shah Hj Abdul Murad take a sceptical look
at the claim by the British philosopher Ian Hacking, that when we
'use' unobserved entities in an experiment -- for example, bombarding
a sheet of metal with electrons -- we do not need to assume the truth
of our theory of electrons. Electrons are 'real' just so long as they
enable us to perform our experiment successfully. The opposing view is
summed up in the claim, 'Every experimental observation is
theory-dependent.' In that case, as Pierre Duhem (1861-1916) claimed,
there will always be more than one theory that explains a given set of

Geoffrey Klempner



 An Imagined Dialog on Eastern and Western Philosophy and the Nature
of Knowledge

     The search for knowledge is like the search for true love.
     We live in a web of relationships, be it of propositions or
     people. Sometimes we are in a skeptical mood and we grasp
     for a solid base -- a belief that we're sure of or a friend
     or lover we can trust completely -- but experience seems to
     admonish us, 'all are fickle'; at such times the web can
     seem inscrutable. Then at other times we're completely in
     the moment and the web is worldwide, and we're secure in
     its interrelationships, confident in our position. We're in
     a web all right -- just sometimes we see ourselves as the
     spider other times as the fly.
     -- Raam Gokhale
     Truth may have been found but might never be known.
     -- Kedar Joshi
 Scene: Kedar's flat in Pune, India.

Players: Ram, an older philosopher, and Kedar, a younger philosopher
(for other philosophical adventures of this duo, go to

 Ram: You know the quote from Kipling, 'East is East and West is West
and never the twain shall meet'? Do you think it applies to

 Kedar: It applies there more than anywhere else. Western philosophy
demands the rigors of sound arguments. Eastern philosophy is
virtually indistinguishable from religion.

 Ram: But 'NEVER the twain shall meet' is pretty radical. Don't you
think they must meet in some sense if both are to be labeled as
philosophy? To compare them, to use the same word, 'philosophy', to
describe them, they must have something in common. It's not like say
comparing farming with the Dewey-decimal system, for example.

 Kedar: You seem to have a common ground in mind?

 Ram: I do. I think it's contained in the inscription at the Temple of
the Delphic oracle, namely 'Know Thyself'.

 Kedar: Hmm. I think you're right. Western philosophy exhorts 'Know
Thyself' in order to know all other things. Eastern philosophy
exhorts 'Know Thyself' in order to forget about all other things.

 Ram: As usual, you've put things very pithily. In western philosophy,
whether you're dealing with ideas that have an external existence as
in Plato or Berkeley or ideas only present in the mind as in
Descartes, Locke, or Hume, ideas are known first and are the basis of
knowing everything else. Know thyself in order to know all other

 Kedar: How about your favorite philosopher, Wittgenstein? Doesn't he
argue that even self-knowledge is only possible through outward
criteria, that there is no such thing as a private language? I for
one would be only too happy to dismiss Wittgenstein as not a true

 Ram: Ah so that's how philosophers trade barbs huh? They don't
directly insult each other; they insult each other's intellectual
heroes. I agree Wittgenstein doesn't fit the paradigm too neatly but
you must admit, even his linguistic analysis can be described as an
exercise in 'Knowing Thyself' -- except in his case the thyself that
you're exhorted to know is the linguistic practices of your 'form of
life', your community of speakers. Not 'Know Thyself in order to know
all other things' but 'know the practices of thy community in order
not to muck up the enterprise of knowing other things'.

 Kedar: At any rate, the later Wittgenstein is understood partly as
attacking the phenomenalists who definitely fit into the 'Know
Thyself in order to know all other things' camp. So I guess he's a
philosopher in the same sense as the statement, 'Philosophy is crap'
is itself taken to express a philosophical position.

 Ram: You put it more crudely than I would but I think we agree that
in western philosophy, 'Knowing Thyself' is generally necessary in
order to know other things. Wittgenstein might be an exception, but
if he is, he is the exception that proves the rule.

 Kedar: OK... perhaps. Now how about eastern philosophy? I take it you
have in mind 'Atman is Brahman' and the doctrine of Maya from the
Vedas when you say eastern philosophy exhorts, 'Know Thyself in order
to forget about all other things'.

 Ram: Actually you said eastern philosophy exhorts 'Know Thyself in
order to forget about all other things'. I recently read The Tao of
Physics and I would have to redescribe eastern philosophy as
exhorting, 'Know Thyself in order to know the subjective nature of
all other things'. I think that's a more accurate formulation of
eastern philosophy.

 Kedar: Interesting reformulation. It still fits the 'Atman is
Brahman' and Maya doctrines of Hindu philosophy. And I can see how
one might draw parallels with quantum mechanics where the observer
plays an inseparable role in the process of observing. But can it
really be taken to represent all eastern philosophy? I mean I don't
know much about Chinese and Japanese philosophy for instance.

 Ram: Actually it better fits non-Hindu eastern philosophy, especially
Taoism, much better because, unlike Hinduism, Taoism, in exhorting us
to see the subjective nature of all other things, actively encourages
us to understand all other things. Each separate thing is a Tao,
composed of opposites like the yin-yang, with each piece containing
the seeds of its opposite. The parallels with modern physics are
clear: matter is energy; particles are waves. In Hinduism, a genuine
interest in understanding individual things outside the self is
sometimes lacking. This is certainly true in Hinduism's emphasis on
the big picture, of transcending the veil of Maya in order for the
atman or self to merge with the Brahman or God. But even Hinduism
holds that the duality of Shiva and Shakti, the male and female
elements, like yin and yang from Taoism, or matter and energy,
particles and waves from modern physics, can be seen in everything.

 Kedar: OK it seems 'the twain do meet' in the exhortation, 'Know
Thyself'. That's how we can recognize eastern philosophy and western
philosophy, as different as they are, as philosophy. But they clearly
differ in their recommendation of how best we can know ourselves.

 Ram: That's right and the methods they recommend are suited to their
widely divergent views about the nature of reality -- the 'twains' do
meet but from then on steam in opposite directions. Western science
has been making successively more accurate maps of the world but
their first approximation was always common sense. Common sense is
what all the theorizing must tie back to. And the methods of common
sense -- ordinary seeing is believing -- are at the core of classical
science just as ordinary introspection is at the heart of western
philosophy. Eastern philosophy seeks to transcend common sense;
common sense is Maya. The essence of reality is glimpsed in mystical
visions. The extra-ordinary visions may explain the world of common
sense but their basis is an ineffable contradiction: all things are a
unity of opposites, opposites like the tendency to rest/ to move, to
sometimes exhibit 'male' sometimes 'female' characteristics, etc. We
see these opposites first in our innermost natures. 'Know thyself in
order to know the subjective nature of all other things'.

 Kedar: And quantum mechanics... I guess it just so happens reality
has dictated western maps have eastern legends?

 Ram: I couldn't have said it better myself.

 Kedar: But like you I consider myself more of a western philosopher.
Must the west be so short-changed?

 Ram: Not at all. Western philosophy's great contribution is a healthy
skepticism. While eastern philosophy goes on to prescribe how to go
about acquiring self-knowledge be it through yogic meditation or
contemplation of Zen paradoxes, western philosophy, facing a much
simpler task as far as acquiring self-knowledge is concerned, goes on
to either explicate how we then acquire knowledge of external things
or failing that raises doubts about whether such knowledge is even

 Kedar: Ahem, with all this talk of knowledge, don't you think we
should define knowledge first?

 Ram: You're right. Surprisingly, as different as they are, both
eastern and western philosophy, I think, would agree, at least as a
first approximation, that knowledge is justified, true belief... just
the things they believe and their methods of justification would be as
different as night and day.

 Kedar: I know 'justified, true belief' has been a definition of
knowledge at least as far back as Plato but I am not sure it's

 Ram: Well a lot of contemporary epistemologists think that the
traditional definition needs at least a fourth condition to provide
necessary and sufficient conditions for knowledge. And even the ones
that don't think that the traditional 3-condition definition is
deficient, think that justification has to be radically reinterpreted.

 Kedar: I'm not referring to that. I think knowledge is just true
belief not justified true belief. Yet even with the simpler
definition, I don't think we ever have knowledge because we're never
sufficiently confident in our beliefs. Indeed the more beliefs we
have, the less sure we are of any of them. Our uncertainty is even
warranted on purely probabilistic grounds.

 Ram: You and I have had this conversation before. As I recall, you
think justification is merely a tool that helps us to have greater
conviction in our beliefs but that it itself isn't really necessary
for knowledge.

 Kedar: That's right.

 Ram: I think you have the 'man-on-the-street' on your side. I think
if we asked an ordinary person to define knowledge, he would say true
belief. Justification is usually the kind of thing only philosophers
worry about.

 Kedar: Is this another way that philosophers trade insults, by saying
the 'man-on-the-street' would agree with you? Philosophers are a
passive-aggressive lot aren't they? You know me: I usually walk on
the opposite side of the street as the 'man-on-the-street'. So I
don't exactly find comfort in having the 'man-on-the-street' on my

 Ram: Philosophy makes strange bedfellows. I usually find comfort in
using words as they are used in everyday speech and, as yours is the
more 'everyday' definition, let me try to see things from your
perspective. First let me try to put a philosopher in your corner so
you feel a little more secure. The philosopher Robert Nozick, like
you, drops justification from his basic account of knowledge though
like you he also thinks justification has a very important role to
play in how we acquire knowledge. According to Nozick, knowledge is
true belief except the belief has to be so 'secure' that it would
vary with the truth of what's believed in 'close' counterfactual

 Kedar: Could you elaborate?

 Ram: Sure. I believe I'm talking to you. And in fact I AM talking to
you. But for my belief to count as knowledge, Nozick would say my
belief would have to be such that if I weren't talking to you, I
wouldn't believe I was talking to you and in other not-too-farfetched
situations where I would be talking to you, I would continue to
believe I'm talking to you. As Nozick says it, my belief has to
'track' the truth in close counterfactual situations in order to
count as knowledge.

 Kedar: I don't think I walk on the same side of the street as Mr.
Nozick either. If I weren't talking to you, I might still believe
that I was; and there may be situations where I would be talking to
you but for whatever reason I wouldn't believe I was talking to you.
Still that doesn't change the fact that I know here and now that I am
talking to you.

 Ram: Nozick tries to capture this intuition by restricting his
tracking conditions to close counterfactual situations. For example
if I were drugged I could believe I'm talking to you even if I wasn't
talking to you. But Nozick would say that is not a close possible
world. In 'normal' situations where I wouldn't be talking to you, I
would (undrugged) simply be talking to someone else or to no one at
all. And in such circumstances, it might seem reasonable to require
that I wouldn't continue to believe I'm talking to you if my belief
is to count as knowledge.

 Kedar: But even if in close-counterfactual situations my belief
doesn't track the truth, even then I think I could still be said to
know. What does it matter if I'm drugged and would think I'm talking
to you even when I'm not. If I believe I'm talking to you when I AM
talking to you, and my belief is caused by the usual perceptual cues,
and not the drug in my system, then in those circumstances I'm right
and have knowledge. For instance, I can give an accurate report of
our conversation. It doesn't matter that the drug would make me
believe I'm talking to you even when I'm not. In that case I don't
have knowledge but that shouldn't infect the case where the belief is
properly caused.

 Ram: I think I agree with you, though other people, in particular
some epistemologists, might have different intuitions so we have to
make the situation more precise. Imagine the drug that's in my system
only works when I don't hear anything for a length of time. We may
imagine the doctor has prescribed it to alleviate my desperate fear
of being alone. Then in close counterfactual situations when I'm not
talking with you, I would still believe I'm talking with you. My
intuition is that, despite this weird drug, when I'm talking with
you, I know I'm talking with you. We could imagine a doctor saying
the drug only affects my judgment when I don't hear any sounds for a
length of time.

Nozick with his observations about 'keeping the method fixed' has
some wiggle-room to deal with our intuitions, but ultimately I think
he fails. But let's not lose sight of what his tracking conditions
were really meant to do. They were intended to rule out lucky guesses
as not instances of knowledge; the intuition he was trying to capture
is that if your belief is only accidentally true, it shouldn't count
as knowledge. The trouble is in our example, the belief I am talking
to you is NOT accidentally true -- it's properly caused by the fact
that I am talking to you; it's just that even if it weren't true,
there would be another cause -- namely the drug -- that would make me
believe I was talking to you; but the existence of this other cause
doesn't make my belief accidentally true when the right cause is the
one that's operating at the present time.

 Kedar: My view of knowledge, as you know, permits even accidentally
true beliefs or lucky guesses to count, provided they are firmly

 Ram: I was wondering when you were going to say that. I happen to
think lucky guesses should be excluded, though not as Nozick does, so
let me try to dissuade you with the following example: suppose someone
has a dream he is going to win the lottery; the dream firmly convinces
him it's going to happen and so he buys a ticket; the ticket wins. You
would say that though he wasn't justified in believing he would win,
he nevertheless knew he would win?

 Kedar: Sure I would. Wouldn't we in such circumstances say he JUST
KNEW he was going to win?

 Ram: Watch it! You're in danger of appealing to the man-on-the-street
again. The man-on-the-street's intuitions can be notoriously slippery.
Though in the lottery example, we could picture him agreeing to the
claim, 'the dreamer just knew he was going to win', if we pressed
him, the man-on-the-street could equally be brought to say the
dreamer didn't really know he was going to win, he just got lucky.

We've had this type of conversation before. The other day when we
were talking about necessity in the Deccan Dugout, you stated there
can be multiple, sometimes conflicting intuitions about the proper
meaning of common words. But you said the philosopher has the right,
the obligation, to select or define a technical meaning to suit his
purpose. I submit to you, justified, true belief or some account of
knowledge that precludes accidentally true beliefs is a more
technical, philosophically more interesting definition of knowledge
than just true belief, and so should be chosen by the philosopher
over the latter.

 Kedar: Well I have to admit just true belief as a definition of
knowledge is not very philosophically interesting. For example, as
you pointed out before, a man could be said to acquire a lot of
knowledge on this definition simply by believing each pair of a
series of contradictory statements. One of each pair has to be true
and if he 'hedges his bets' by believing both he's guaranteed to have
knowledge. This is clearly a pretty ridiculous way of acquiring
knowledge. Perhaps when I proposed the 'true-belief' definition, I
was guilty of appealing to the man-on-the-street's lesser intuitions.

So it seems beliefs have to be non-accidentally true in order to
count as knowledge. How do we flush out exactly the conditions
necessary to rule out accidentally true beliefs?

 Ram: Certainly if someone as illustrious as Robert Nozick, the winner
of the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize, has failed, we should be on guard.

 Kedar: I'm not sure whether you're being facetious or
passive-aggressive again, but we definitely should be on guard. For
example, your justification condition -- we would want to say most
people have knowledge about the content of their perceptual beliefs
without having a justification for them. We know the causes that make
most perceptual beliefs true -- i.e. their reliability in conditions
of good lighting, the perceiver not being under the influence of
drugs, etc. -- so we would say such people are justified but these
people may not be aware all the premises that go into their

 Ram: You bring up an interesting point. Could someone be justified in
his knowledge claim only from the outside and still be said to know?

 Kedar: What do you mean 'from the outside'?

 Ram: I mean inaccessible to the putative knower. This is the
internalism/ externalism distinction one encounters in contemporary
epistemology. We from the outside, external perspective know why the
man-on-the-street's perceptual beliefs are justified but from the
internal perspective, based solely on what the man is aware of, the
man might have no justification -- he simply believes what he sees.
The question is do we want to require the man be aware of the full
justification of his beliefs in order to know them or do we allow
external justifications to support his knowledge claims?

 Kedar: I've re-girded myself against the man-on-the-street. My
intuitions about justifications are that it's an internal thing, so I
would say if the man-on-the-street doesn't have the full
justifications for his perceptual beliefs internally, so much the
worse for him -- he doesn't know.

 Ram: Now we have to be careful what we require as full justification.
For consider the following example. A man in an empty public square
sees a prominent clock in a country known for punctuality and

 Kedar: Not India, I take it.

 Ram: Ha, Ha, OK not India. The man notices that the clock reads 5:00
pm. He thinks to himself, 'clocks around here generally tell the
correct time', looks at the position of the sun in the sky and judges
that it's about 5:00 pm and takes similar other measures to justify
his belief that it is in fact 5:00 pm. Suppose it is in fact 5:00 pm
but the clock he is looking at stopped working at 5:00 am. A
philosopher named Edmund Gettier used examples like this to argue
that knowledge can't simply be justified, true belief because the man
seems to meet all three conditions but we don't want to say he knows
it's 5:00 pm.

 Kedar: Interesting example. My first inclination is to maintain that
knowledge can be justified, true belief. It's just that the man's
justification is not a full, complete justification.

 Ram: I had the same reaction when I first heard this example. But
remember: you're committed to justification being internal, that the
man be fully aware of each premise in his justification. What would
you have him do? Wait a few minutes to see if the clock is running?
We could suppose the clock did coincidentally restart at 5:00 pm so
it seems to be running. Still we don't want to say that the man who
relies on such an on-off clock knows what time it is. Do we want to
further require he examine the inner workings of the clock? Again
since the clock has restarted, inner workings might yield no clue
that in fact it's reading 5:00 am and that therefore the man's belief
that it's 5:00 pm is only accidentally true.

In general any belief inductively justified can be false. That's the
nature of inductive justification. All we have to do to cook up a
Gettieresque example is to imagine a scenario in which the
inductively justified belief would be false but suppose the belief
coincidentally is true. Then you have truth, belief, justification --
just not knowledge.

 Kedar: Extending your example to the n-th degree, we could imagine a
full justification would require a justification for induction, which
the history of philosophy has taught us is a losing battle.

 Ram: Fortunately it's not as bad as that. In the case of inductive
justification you could argue that a justification only has to make
it likely that the conclusion-belief is true. Against Gettieresque
examples, the only thing that's required is that there be no genuine
defeaters of that justification as there are in the clock example.

 Kedar: What's a genuine defeater?

 Ram: Well, a defeater of a person's justification for a belief is a
true proposition such that if the person believed this proposition,
he would no longer be justified in holding the belief in question.
The proposition 'the clock stopped working at 5:00 am' is a defeater,
a genuine defeater, in the earlier example because if the man believed
it, he would no longer be justified in believing it's 5:00 pm.

 Kedar: I guess to understand why you say genuine defeater, I have to
know what's a non-genuine defeater.

 Ram: A non-genuine defeater, or a misleading defeater as it's known
in the literature, is a proposition that is a defeater in the sense
that were the putative knower to believe it, he would no longer be
justified. But it is a misleading defeater in the sense that its
power to defeat is dependent on a false proposition. That at least is
how my graduate school professor, Peter Klein, a defeasibility
theorist, put it.

 Kedar: Can you give an example?

 Ram: We already had one. The drug that caused conversations to be
imagined when no conversation was going on is an example of a
misleading defeater. Imagine that I was unknowingly given this drug.
This proposition is a defeater of my justification for believing that
I'm talking to you. It is a defeater because if I believed it, I would
no longer be justified in believing I was talking to you. Yet to some
it seems like a misleading defeater because its power to defeat is
dependent on the false proposition that the drug in my system is
active right now. Remember we said the drug doesn't operate so long
as I hear sounds.

 Kedar: OK -- I think I have some sense of defeasibility theories of
knowledge. And in Nozick I got some flavor of a different type of
theory. I know we couldn't have covered every epistemological theory
but did we at least hit all the major classifications?

 Ram: Let's see... Nozick was an example of reliabilism. We talked
about defeasibility. I guess the only other major strand is the
causal theory of knowledge.

 Kedar: That sounds interesting... maybe just the kind of theory I can
espouse. I don't know exactly what a causal theory of knowledge is but
it sounds like it could fit our intuitions in the drug case. There we
said I know I am talking to you because my belief is caused by the
facts that make it true.

 Ram: A causal theory has strong intuitive appeal. We want to say
what's true caused us to know it's true. It's the basis of our most
common beliefs, namely perceptual beliefs. Seeing is believing
because the thing we believe plays a causal role in forming our

 Kedar: And a causal theory would handle our Gettieresque clock
example. The man doesn't know it's 5:00 pm because there is a causal
disconnect between it actually being 5:00 pm and his belief that it's
5:00 pm.

 Ram: That's right, but... 

 Kedar: I just knew there would be a but. Did you ever think,
philosophy is crap because it's full of butts?

 Ram: Very funny. Seriously though, a causal theory of knowledge faces
some challenges distinguishing causal connections of the right sort
from causal connections that don't result in knowledge.

 Kedar: Could you give an example of the wrong sort of causal

 Ram: Certainly. Let's modify our drugged conversation example.
Suppose the drug administered unknown to me makes me imagine a
conversation, perhaps a very flattering conversation, when someone is
talking to me. I think we would say I don't know you're talking to me
though my belief that you're talking to me is caused by your talking
to me.

 Kedar: It's funny how our strongest intuitions fall prey to such easy
to dream up counterexamples.

 Ram: They're not that easy to dream up -- I've just heard them or
their kind before. For example another criticism of the causal theory
I've heard is that it's unable to handle deductive knowledge like our
knowledge of the truths of mathematics. Numbers don't cause anything
because they're simply logical constructs.

 Kedar: Remember, I happen to be a Platonist about truths of
mathematics so I can believe that somehow they cause our beliefs.
They cause our beliefs because our mind directly 'grasps' them.

 Ram: Well let's just say numbers pose difficulties for most 'normal'
causal theorists of knowledge.

 Kedar: As usual you're being very cagey and passive-aggressively
insulting. We've surveyed the major epistemological theories but you
still haven't said which one you prefer.

 Ram: If I am being cagey it's not from any deviousness. Remember,
like Wittgenstein, I'm an ordinary language philosopher. To borrow
Wittgenstein's metaphor, maybe knowledge is like a family
resemblance: we see a family's photographs and the faces all seem to
resemble one another but we may be hard-pressed to find a single
feature that is common to them all; knowledge may be like that, a
concept that has many intuitions running through it without one being
common to them all. For example, for knowledge we have intuitions that
it must be reliable, non-accidental, caused by the thing known, be
supported by a justification. It wouldn't surprise me if all these
intuitions couldn't be brought together under one rubric. Maybe all
philosophically interesting concepts are like that, making our
attempts to find necessary and sufficient conditions for them
ultimately doomed to failure.

 Kedar: Don't be so pessimistic. After all, as different as eastern
and western philosophies are, you found a common thread running
through all of them -- know thyself.

 Ram: I think I got lucky. But you may have a point. Maybe I got lucky
because philosophy is a more technical word than knowledge. Maybe
philosophers should only focus on words that have already been lifted
out of the confused din of common discourse. Maybe epistemologists
would do better to focus on concepts like evidence or justification
which are already more technical than knowledge.

Though, wouldn't it be funny if the word philosophy was the only
philosophically interesting word that permits a philosophically
satisfying definition?

 Kedar: I think that would be funny only to a philosopher. I choose to
believe that concepts like justification and evidence would permit
philosophically interesting definitions. Let's talk about them next.

 Ram: Wait a minute. I see by the clock outside it's 5:00 pm. I think
I better be getting back. We can talk about justification and
evidence next time.

 Kedar: OK. Meanwhile I'll take the imagined conversation drug and
think about what you and I might say.

(c) Raam Gokhale 2010

E-mail: rpgokhale2002@yahoo.com

Web site: http://punejournalofphilosophy.com



The aim of this work is to review how Luis Villoro (Barcelona: 1922,
of Mexican parents) -- a well-known philosopher in the
Spanish-speaking world -- comes to grip with knowledge and truth in
his book Creer, saber, conocer [1]. One of the most important
contributions of Villoro's work is his modification of the
traditional analysis of 'knowledge'. Villoro states that the
necessary and sufficient conditions of knowledge are:

     S knows that p if and only if:

     1) S believes that p, and

     2) S has objectively sufficient grounds [2] in believing
        that p [3] (175).

Villoro claims that the notion of 'knowledge' requires the notion of
'objectively sufficient grounds' (objective justification), and at
the same time, the notion of 'objective justification' requires the
notion of 'truth' (181) [4]. Villoro's interpretation of truth does
not only include semantic, but metaphysical ideas on a realistic
ground. Thus Villoro writes that in the analysis of,

     'p' is true if and only if p

p is 'what makes true the proposition 'p', and p could only be the
real fact, just like it exists independently of a subject that
believes that 'p'' (176). Villoro then admits the
independent-existence of real facts, and the mind-independent nature
of reality: 'We must admit that if 'p' is true, p exists with
independence of the subject' (178).

Villoro justifies his realism appealing to the argument of the best

     The notions of 'reality' and 'truth' are necessary for
     explaining the objectivity of the justification...
     Objectivity presupposes the coincidence of statements
     within a community of epistemic subjects. With regard to
     the statements of facts (empirical statements), the best
     explanation for that coincidence is the real existence,
     mind-independent, of the facts judged. Otherwise the
     inter-subjectivity will only be on that account a bizarre
     hypothesis... The acknowledgement of a real world, common
     to every subject, based on the verification of all
     empirical statements, is the only conclusive, complete and
     coherent explanation of our knowledge. Truth, as
     reality-correspondence of our statements, is the only
     adequate rational explanation of the objective
     justification of our reasons (181).
Villoro claims that the notion of truth and its correlative notion of
reality are necessary to understand the concept of objective
justification. He understands objective justification as the
coincidence of statements within an epistemic community; coincidence
of the subjects' reliability with regard to what is objective. Here
reliability is understood in relation to the actual epistemic
conditions (available knowledge, level of technology, basic beliefs
and social relations) for such community. But the possibility of
objective justification lies on the truth that is known. For Villoro,
objective justification only means that the subjects of a community
have the best justification available for believing that something is
true (but it could be revealed false for the same subject at another
time, for another subject of the same community or for an external
observer). In this sense, objective justification is a warranty as
reliability; warranty that depends on the justified beliefs of the
involved subjects.

What is the fact that makes true a statement? Villoro writes:

     We must accept that if 'p' is true, p exists with
     independence of any subject. But what exists with
     independence of any subject cannot be known with the same
     independence. It is not contradictory that someone knows a
     fact that exists with independence of his knowledge, but it
     is contradictory that someone knows a real fact with
     independence of his knowledge. Hence, I cannot know that
     something is true independently of my ways of grasping
     truth... Now, then, the reasons to know are all those that
     allow a subject to rely his judgment on reality... so that
     when anyone knows, it is necessary that his reasons be
     enough to warrant the real existence of p; but then the
     statement about the truth of 'p' depends on those same
     reasons (178-179).
If truth in the sense of correspondence to reality is true adequate
explanation for the inter-subjective agreement which is required for
objective justification, doesn't this seem to require that any
objectively justified statement be true? Villoro replies:

     The absolute truth is not completely achievable to
     historical subjects; their access to it will always be
     partial and limited by factual conditions. Nevertheless,
     the complete correspondence of our statements to reality is
     a normative ideal of reason. (88).
Therefore, the access to truth will always be historically
conditioned, and the normative aim is to achieve progressive
descriptions of the world -- historically conditioned in all
epistemic communities, but every day better furnished with warrants
to achieve that reality. Hence, these progressive approaches to
reality will have a relative and progressive character.

In short, Villoro holds: 1) the independent-existence of the world,
but not necessarily the independence of the (mental) objects with
respect to the mind; 2) that any subject can judge the truth of his
statements but with his own reasons; and 3) there is not a definite,
complete and truthful description of the world.

In order to maintain his claim, Villoro states three arguments to
eliminate the truth condition for the analysis of 'S knows that p',
that is, his view of knowledge as truth-free condition.

a) The first one states:

     In the traditional definition of 'knowledge', the second
     condition ('p is true') takes a different form than the
     other two. While the latter two mention the subject of
     knowledge, the second one does not. The definition is not
     precise while it does not mention who considers the truth
     of 'p'. Must 'p is true' be understood as asserted by S, or
     by any possible subject? (182).
Against the possible reply that the truth condition must be met
because p is an independent condition of the other conditions (belief
and justification), and it only holds concerning that the fact p --
what S's belief refers to -- and therefore exists externally and
independently of the subject, Villoro writes:

     The second condition states the absolute truth of 'p' as a
     two-fold relation between a sentence (or proposition) and a
     fact. Then one must presuppose that there is no-one to
     consider the existence of such relation. Indeed, in the
     moment we admit that someone considers it, he will judge it
     by his grounds (S at another time or Sn, an adequate
     epistemic subject, member of the same community of S, who
     judges it)... If we interpret the relation of truth as
     absolute, independently of the grounds considered by the
     subject, we cannot apply it to any subject's statement.
     Thus we would state the second condition in such a manner 
     that, in principle, anyone can assert it, and therefore
     no-one can assert that S knows. Indeed, one can never know
     that a sentence is true, and hence that someone knows,
     except by means of a criterion of truth, that is, by
     grounds (183).
I think Villoro's statement is right. Nevertheless, Villoro does not
consider a third possibility. When he writes about a subject, he
refers to an adequate (pertinent) epistemic subject [5]. I think this
notion is relevant to the notion of objective justification, but it is
very weak way to determine the notion of truth. Of course Sn (an
adequate epistemic subject, member of the same community of S) is
always the subject that examines the presupposed knowledge of S, but
in addition to the two possibilities considered by Villoro -- S at
other time or Sn -- , there is a third possibility: that Sn might be
an external observer of S's community. The fact is that Sn will
examine S's reasons in accordance with his own reasons -- those
relative to his society.

b) The second argument states:

     If 'S knows that p' includes 'p is true' and 'true' is
     understood in the sense of absolute truth, then we would
     only know infallible propositions (184).
Villoro states a conjunctive proposition: that the notion of
knowledge includes that 'p is true' and 'true' is understood in the
sense of absolute truth as correspondence. In order to defeat the
conclusion -- that we only know infallible propositions -- Villoro
rejects the truth condition in the notion of knowledge, that is, he
excludes the sentence 'p is true'.

But there is in Villoro's analysis a conceptual tension between the
definition of knowledge and the criteria for accepting that something
is the case. His argument implies the idea that the definition must by
met by the one who considers that p is true. But you can reply that
this condition is only necessary for a criterion for deciding that S
knows p, and not for the definition of 'knowledge'. I believe that
his arguments are consistent in regard with the criterion that a
belief is a case of knowledge, but not against the notion of truth.

Let us review this difficulty. Certainly, Villoro wants to apply the
notion of 'knowledge' to beliefs objectively justified, but fallible.
A belief is objectively justified, if it includes objectively
sufficient grounds for a subject:

     ... that the object of his belief not only has existence
     for him, but it has real existence too, independently of
     his own judgment. Therefore, objectively sufficient grounds
     are for a subject enough warrant that his belief is true,
     and he knows; hence they are criterion of truth (179).
Because the objectively sufficient grounds are the criteria of truth
for p, they warrant 'for a subject, the real existence of p' (ibid.).

According to Villoro the existence of p is not relative to S, but
only to S's 'warranties' in believing that p. Therefore, 'knowledge'
implies the possession of objectively adequate grounds in order to
affirm that p is true, that is, that p is a fact that exists
independently of any statement. But this can only be applied to the
subjects in the same epistemic community. After all, a subject of
another community could claim that p is false and p does not exist.
Villoro then states that our empirical knowledge is fallible in the
sense of correctable:

     The warranty of truth, for empirical propositions, is
     relative to a time and historical society. The reasons that
     could be sufficient for an epistemic community C1 at time
     t1, could be insufficient for another community C2 at time
     t2 (180) [6].
For Villoro, the warranties of truth are relative to S, not truth
itself as correspondence. Villoro's analysis is compromised by the
idea that knowledge is fallible. If we admit that knowledge is by
definition objectively justified, it might be probably true, but not
necessarily, hence it is fallible and correctable at a time. Because
knowledge refers to reality -- there is not an absolute
correspondence -- it is fallible, and consequently correctable.

c) Finally, Villoro's third argument is based on Gettier's examples.
His conclusion entails that those examples arise because of:

     [the] justification, insofar it is based on different
     grounds of those which warrant the truth of the belief. For
     S knowing that p it is necessary that he knows it by the
     reasons that account for the truth of 'p', and not other
     reasons (190).
His strategy for meeting those examples is obtained by simplifying
the analysis, understanding the 'justification' in a way that is not
independent of the truth condition. But then we cannot understand it
as justification only for the subject, but for everyone (191).

But justification, as we already noted, is not justification for
everyone, but only for an adequate epistemic subject. However,
Villoro denies the independence of the notion of truth as
correspondence while the justification for believing is relative to
the subject, and thus fallible. Therefore in his definition of
knowledge creates a tension between the notion of truth as
correspondence -- independent of frameworks of justification -- and a
relative conception of knowledge justification.

Is the idea of justification being a justification for everyone
opposed to the idea of justification being justification for an
adequate epistemic subject? Is the idea of justification merely for
an adequate epistemic subject a weaker condition, relative to a time
and community, so this his notion of 'justification' does not require
truth as correspondence?

For Villoro, there are two senses of warranty for truth: On the one
hand, warranty1 is an objective justification for an adequate
epistemic subject within a certain community. Here objective
justification relies on the beliefs of the subject for such
community. On the other hand, warranty2 relies on the truth-value of
statements, that is, on conceptual frameworks. In the first case,
there is always the possibility that the justified beliefs may turn
out to be false, and also the possibility that truth-value statements
are not objectively justified -- the key concept is reliability. In
the second case, Villoro admits the possibility of a possible subject
-- external to the epistemic community -- who considers the same
justified beliefs, and to whom the warranty is not those beliefs, but
the truth-value propositions. Here the key idea of warranty for
different subjects -- with different conceptual frameworks -- is that
they have reality in common.

In sum, I think that Villoro's truth-free condition for the
traditional analysis of 'S knows that p' is correct. In this case,
Villoro states that knowledge as an objectively justified belief is
not necessarily true belief, because objective justification concerns
reliability of a belief for an adequate epistemic subject, while truth
concerns reliability of a belief for a possible subject.

The correspondence theory of truth sustains that it is rational to
demand a justification that our knowledge corresponds to reality. But
the epistemic notion of truth -- as stated by Villoro -- holds that is
rational to demand an objective justification of our knowledge. The
former offers a warranty of truth that responds to the question about
the nature of knowledge. Here the case is that if any possible subject
has a 'truth-tie' to reality (whether he knows it or not), this 'tie'
is the warrant for his actions to succeed. The latter responds to a
question about the adequate epistemic subject, that is, why he can be
relied upon to succeed in his actions. The answer is because he is
objectively justified. Here the criteria of truth are the warranties
for knowledge, and they are relative to a community -- in a
particular time and historical society. From this perspective
knowledge is fallible, and hence correctable, but not false.

In other words, we can save Villoro's tension between the notion of
truth as correspondence and knowledge as objective justification,
concluding that from an ontological point of view the notion of truth
is prior to objective justification, because objective justification
is the case if there is truth; but from a cognitive point view the
notion of objective justification is prior to truth, because we only
know something that is true if it is objectively justified. In other
words, Villoro meets this tension admitting the ontological
independence of reality, and its cognitive dependence.


1. Luis Villoro, Creer, saber, conocer, Mexico: Fondo de Cultura
Economica, 1982.

2. 'Objectively sufficient grounds' are the adequate reasons that
warrant the truth of the belief, independent of the subject's
judgment; reasons that are determined by the object, or the objective
situation, of the belief and not by subjective justification; and they
must be conclusive, complete and coherent to any adequate epistemic
subject that considers them (137-138).

3. References in brackets indicate the page number.

4. Here Villoro has in mind Tarski's primitive notion of truth.

5. Villoro seems to be compromised with a naturalized epistemology.
But at the end of his book (ch. 12) he admits that a theory of
knowledge could be related to contexts of liberation, e.g., as
demystification and destabilization of hegemonic ideologies and in
this sense could affect social reality, hence it is legitimate to
consider a theory of knowledge as objective.

6. According to Villoro an 'adequate epistemic subject' of S's belief
that 'p' is a subject that has accessibility (availability) to the
same reasons (grounds) of S, and not others, and an 'adequate
epistemic community' is the group of adequate epistemic subjects in
believing that p (supra, ch. 7).

(c) Alfredo Lucero-Montano 2010

E-mail: alucerom@prodigy.net.mx



Scientific realists diverge on the 'argument from coincidence' in
accounting for the match between theory and data. Those who subscribe
to this conception are the proponents of the truth-based governing
theory of instruments, such as Boyd and Chalmers. They claim that the
reliability of an experimental instrument must be warranted by truth
of its governing theory.

However, there is another group of scientific realists, one of them
is Hacking, who reject the 'argument from coincidence' as the sole
explanation to account for the possibility of theory choice. They do
not conceive the reliability of experimental instruments in terms of
a truth-based governing theory. On the contrary, they claim that the
reliability of an instrument is warranted by its successful

     Thus I do not advance the argument from coincidence as the
     sole basis of our conviction that we see true through the
     microscope. It is one element, a compelling visual element,
     that combines with more intellectual modes of understanding,
     and with other kinds of experimental work. (Hacking 1985,
Hacking maintains that the 'argument from coincidence' alone is
insufficient to verify a true match between data and theory. For him,
the use of an instrument does not lead an observer straight to truth.
He holds that additional conceptions are required to explain the
experimental results.

     Only a greater understanding of what a gene is can bring
     the conviction of what the micrograph shows. We become
     convinced of the reality of bands and interbands on
     chromosomes not just because we see them, but because we
     formulate conceptions of what they do, what they are for.
     (Hacking 1985, 148)

In Hacking's account, though he does not claim so explicitly, an
instrument alone is incapable of arbitrating between rival theories
to explain the experimental results. He requires additional theories
or conceptions on top of the use of the instrument in the problem of
theory choice. In the example given by him, Hacking implies that
additional background theory is required in explaining the
experimental results:

     Biological microscopy without practical biochemistry is as
     blind as Kant's intuitions in the absence of concepts.
     (Hacking 1985, 148)
The requirement of additional background theory leads Hacking
unavoidably into the dilemma of Duhem's underdetermination thesis,
for he needs to answer how to arbitrate between rival theories when a
crucial experiment is impossible in the holistic context of theory.

To do so, Hacking has recourse to unobservable entities. Unobservable
entities 'are regularly manipulated to produce new phenomena and to
investigate other aspects of nature.' (Hacking 1984, 154) Hacking
goes further to contend that unobservable entities are real in the
sense that they can be manipulated to produce new phenomena.

     Only at the level of experimental practice is scientific
     realism unavoidable -- but this realism is not about
     theories and truth. The experimentalist need only be a
     realist about the entities used as tools. (Hacking 1984,
     Electrons are no longer ways of organizing our thoughts or
     saving the phenomena that have been observed. They are now
     ways of creating phenomena in some other domain of nature.
     Electrons are tools. (Hacking 1984, 156)
Hence, it is clear that Hacking conceives unobservable entities as
real because they are tools. He interprets realism not in term of
epistemology and ontology but of experimentation. His position is
known as entity realism which takes the 'middle ground between
scientific realism and empiricist antirealism' (Clarke 2001, 701). It
is a position that maintains realism about causal explanation (Clarke
2001). According to Hacking, unobservable entities are real not
because they are governed by underlying truth and the real-in-itself
but because they are able to be manipulated.

      The vast majority of experimental physicists are realists
     about entities but not about theories. Some are, no doubt,
     realists about theories too, but that is less central to
     their concerns. (Hacking 1984, 155)
Hacking thus differentiates an important experimental contrast,
between realism about entities and realism about theories (Hacking
1984). He confers a temporal perspective on the contrasting
alternatives. In his opinion, realism about entities aims at the
experimental entity present when the experiment is taking place.
However, realism about theories aims at the truth, which is
'something about the indefinite future.' (Hacking 1984, 156) The
former is neutral between values while the latter requires adoption
of certain values.

Hacking adopts realism about entities. He holds that a scientist does
not need to take stance of the controversy between two rival theories
for the purpose of carrying out an experiment. An experiment is
value-independent rather than value-dependent.

     Various properties are confidently ascribed to electrons,
     but most of the confident properties are expressed in
     numerous different theories or models about which an
     experimenter can be rather agnostic. Even people in a team,
     who work on different parts of the same large experiment,
     may hold different and mutually incompatible accounts of
     electrons. (Hacking 1984, 156)
Hacking claims that the chief role of a value-independent experiment
'is the creation of phenomena.' (Hacking 1984, 155) Unobservable
entities are deemed real because they can be manipulated to create
observed phenomena. In Hacking's account, real observed phenomena
cannot be created out of void. Thus, unobservable entities must be
real ontologically and experimentally.

One may question Hacking by asking 'how do we know nothingness can
never produce observed phenomena? Isn't it too dogmatic to hold that
an unobserved entity is the cause of observed phenomena?'

This question is posed at the ontological level and ignores the fact
that Hacking has differentiated two kinds of real unobservable
entities, which are experimental real entities and ontological real
entities. Experimentation commits one to believing that an
unobservable entity is real in the sense that it is manipulate-able
while suspending the issue of existence. Manipulability of
experimental real entities commits us to their existence when they
are manipulated to experiment on something else.

     Experimenting on an entity does not commit you to believing
     that it exists. Only manipulating an entity, in order to
     experiment on something else, need do that. (Hacking 1984,
An experimental entity may be hypothetical though it is real in terms
of manipulability. But once it is used to manipulate other things, it
will be conceived as ontologically real.

     At that time this postulated 'neutrino' was thoroughly
     hypothetical, but now it is routinely used to examine other
     things. (Hacking 1984, 168)
The link from experimental real entities to ontological real entities
is the causal properties that explain the effects of manipulation of
unobserved entities on other entities. (Hacking 1984) Thus, the
aforementioned question is not a real threat to Hacking's account of
unobservable entities because it assumes the causal relationship to
be held firm in the production of observed phenomena, which is agreed
by Hacking too. The main point in Hacking's claim is not about the
fact of ontological existence of the cause of observed phenomena,
which is unobservable entities, but the fact of experimental
existence of the causal relation of the manipulation that takes place
in an experiment. In another words, when Hacking maintains that an
unobservable entity is real, he implies that it exerts causal
relation, which is its manipulability, on another entity to yield
observed phenomena. Unobservable entities are real ontologically
because they are warranted by the causal relation they exert. Without
viewing unobservable entities in the context of causal relation, it is
meaningless to say that an unobservable entity exists ontologically.

     The best kinds of evidence for the reality of a postulated
     or inferred entity is that we can begin to measure it or
     otherwise understand its causal powers. The best evidence,
     in turn, that we have this kind of understanding is that we
     can set out, from scratch, to build machines that will work
     fairly reliably, taking advantage of this or that causal
     nexus. Hence, engineering, not theorizing, is the best
     proof of scientific realism about entities. (Hacking 1984,
Hence, causal relation, which is the effect of experimental
manipulation of unobservable entities on other entities in yielding
observed phenomena, plays a significant role in theory choice in
Hacking's realist account. Hacking's value-independent characteristic
of experiment requires additional background theory to decide between
rival theories, as elaborated above. To make theory choice possible,
Hacking's conception of experimental manipulability is the key.

Hacking subscribes to the general manipulability theory:

     Causes can be understood as 'handles' for bringing about
     effects in the sense that causes can be manipulated to
     bring about different outcomes. (Waters 2008, 5)
To manipulate the unobserved entities such as electrons, scientists
need to have their aim and background theory that drives such
manipulation. As we have seen, Hacking holds that an experiment is
value-independent, and is not theory-driven, the theory merely serves
as a secondary aid, and not a primary guide that helps an experimenter
to carry out the experiment.

In fact, Hacking's conception of experimental manipulability which
rejects the traditional role of theory in experiment inevitably
suggests an exploratory nature of experimentation. Exploratory
experimentation is an account of scientific practice that was
proposed by Friederich Steinle and Richard Burian separately in the
1990s (O'Malley 2008). It is a variant of Hacking's account of
experimental manipulability. Exploratory experimentation is
exploratory in nature which is not always guided by theory (Waters
2008a). It is 'theory-informed' instead of theory-driven (Waters

However, theory-informed exploratory experimentation is not totally
free of theoretical content (Waters 2008a). Theory is not playing a
governing role but a secondary aiding role in experimentation. To
make an analogy, theory-informed exploratory experimentation makes
use of theory as its wheel, not as a steering as in theory-driven

Theory-driven experimentation, which is the traditional account of
philosophy of science, is directed by theory about what will be
observed (Waters 2008a). According to Burian, theory-informed
exploratory experimentation 'comes into play when theory does not
provide expectations of what investigators will find' (Waters 2008a,
6). Most importantly, exploratory experimentation is 'often conducted
without specific theoretical tests in mind as new phenomena and
processes are explored.' (O'Malley 2008, 2) Eventually, new
conceptual frameworks and bodies of knowledge are the result.
(O'Malley 2008)

At a cursory glance, it seems that Hacking's experimental
manipulability of unobservable entities or exploratory
experimentation is immune from the threat posed by the
underdetermination thesis on theory choice, because he claims that
observation or experimentation is not driven by theory. In another
words, when the experimenters use observations to test theories, they
do not need to make use of some other theories or auxiliary
hypotheses, which is required by Duhemian holism in drawing the
conclusions about the expected observed outcome (Bird 2005). Thus, a
crucial experiment is possible where a decisive abandonment of the
tested theories can be made when the observation is in conflict with
the prediction of the tested theories. The experimental significance
of an array of other theories is not an issue here since these two
approaches do not subscribe to a holistic view of theory-driven of
observation. If this is the case, theory choice is possible.

However, the promising possibility of decisive theory choice cannot
be well defended. Firstly, it is illusory to hold that
theory-informed exploratory experimentation and experimental
manipulability are not driven by theory even to the minimal degree.
In fact, the direction of exploratory experimentation and
experimental manipulation in the course of an experiment is largely
driven by unobservable entities, as unobservable entities are
basically the product of theories. Consider the invisible genome of
an organism. It is widely recognized by patent attorneys and
philosophers of biology as a presented sequence (Bostanci and Calvert
2008). Some of them assert that the genome is a computer-related
invention (Bostanci and Calvert 2008). Genome sequencing is made
possible, which is the manipulation of invisible gene, only if
geneticists base their experiment on DNA theories. Anyhow, the
invisible genome is postulated not as an independent unobserved
entity which can be explored or manipulated in a theory-free fashion.
It is indeed a theory-driven entity.

Secondly, theory outlines the expected outcome even before embarking
on an experiment. Theory guides an experimenter in knowing what to
look for in the result of an experiment. The experimenters will not
be able to recognize the findings in the absence of theory. Thus,
theory is not just a secondary aiding tool -- as held by Hacking, but
the principle that drives experiment. Furthermore, an experimenter is
unable to formulate his question to put to nature without the
guidance of theory.

Thirdly, it is dubious to claim that the use of experimental
instruments is not driven by theory. Despite the fact that some
philosophers reject the effects of a governing theory of instrument
in the process of observation and experimental result, they cannot
deny the fact that the use of experimental instruments requires
scientific knowledge in explaining the observed results. At the
minimal degree, inference is always required in an observation in
order to draw conclusion. Experimenters inevitably need to use theory
in his inference.

     Thanks to the electron microscope the delicate threads of
     DNA can actually be photographed bridging the gap between
     one haploid bacterium and another. These photographs add a
     dimension to the actual experiment, which refers to the
     mechanism of direct genetic transfer only very indirectly
     and via a network of inferences, the validity of which
     depends upon our being ready to accept the general picture.
     (Harre 1984, 133)
The above quotation pertaining to the use of electron microscope
suggests two things. Firstly, the instrument itself is insufficient
in providing explanation for an observed result. The role of an
instrument is confined to providing evidence for explanation. An
experimenter needs to use inferences, which are based on existing
scientific theories, to explain the observed evidence provided by the
instrument. Secondly, the explanation which results from the
evidence-based inference requires a general theoretical framework for
its acceptability. The theoretical framework serves as a background
theory or a paradigm for an experimenter to draw his inference from.
Two experimenters who subscribe to different theoretical frameworks
may arrive at different explanations on the same observed evidence.

Proponents of exploratory experimentation might possibly have
recourse to another strategy by arguing that the primary objective of
experiments is not to explain but to describe the observed results.
They may argue that the descriptive nature of exploratory
experimentation does not introduce the predicament of theory choice.
However, this is not a persuasive argument because description of an
observed phenomenon always requires underlying theory as
presupposition. To describe the observed phenomenon 'the sun rises at
the east and sets at the west' one has already based his description
on the assumption of geocentricism. Harwit's elucidation on
astronomical observation exhibits the role of theory in description:

     Any actually performed astronomical observation may be
     described in terms of the five parameters just discussed.
     We can
     1. Report the spectral wavelength at which the observations
     were made
     2. Specify the angular resolution obtained
     3. Give the spectral resolution
     4. State the time resolution
     5. If the equipment also is sensitive to polarization,
     specify whether our observations tested for plane or for
     circular polarization of the received light (Harwit 1984,
To describe an astronomical observation in term of spectral
resolution, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle is needed (Harwit
1984). Similarly, a theory for the age of universe is presupposed in
describing an observation in term of time resolution (Harwit 1984).
Thus, it is apparent that descriptive experimentation is impossible
without theory. The strategy which recourses to descriptive
experimentation, does not overcome the predicament of theory choice.

In a nutshell, Hacking's account of instrumental manipulability and
Burian's assertion of exploratory experimentation do not provide a
promising way to get rid of the predicament of theory choice. On the
one hand, Hacking's account merely recognizes the existence of
unobservable entities through manipulation of an instrument instead
of the conception of truth. He still acknowledges the significance of
theory in explaining the experimental results. On the other hand,
Burian's theory-informed exploratory experimentation does not expel
theory from the domain of experimentation. Indeed, his distinction
between theory-driven and theory-informed experimentation merely
demarcates between the styles of experiments. Theory-grounded
inference is still required in experiment to explain the observed


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______. 1985. Do We See Through A Microscope? In: Churchland, P.M and
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______. 2008a. The Nature and Context of Exploratory Experimentation:
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Preprint of Hist. Phil Life Sci (2007) 29(3). Available at PhilSci
Archive of University of Pittsburgh: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu
[Accessed 2 May 2008]

(c) Sim-Hui Tee and Mohd Hazim Shah Hj Abdul Murad 2010

E-mail: shtee@mmu.edu.my

 Sim-Hui Tee
Multimedia University
Persiaran Multimedia, Cyberjaya
63100 Selangor,

 Mohd Hazim Shah Hj Abdul Murad
Faculty of Science,
Universiti Malaya
50603 Kuala Lumpur,



The Journal Cultura: International Journal of Philosophy of Culture
and Axiology calls for the delivering of full-length papers,
book-reviews, commentary pieces and manuscripts for its next issue.
Although the journal occasionally accepts papers written in German,
Spanish, French and Italian, the suggested language should be
English. Please forward new proposition to

Simona Mitriou at simona.mitroiu@uaic.ro

Details of the journal are as follows:

 Schedule Cultura. International Journal of Philosophy of Culture and
Axiology appears on the following dates:

June 30th
December 30th

 Call for Papers

Deadline for sending materials:

April 1st
October 1st

 Author information Prospective authors should send their
contributions to the following address: journal.axiology@yahoo.com
The editorial staff may alter manuscripts wherever necessary to make
them conform to the journal's style. Although we accept papers in
German, French, Italian and Spanish, we encourage those written in
English. The language must be checked by a native speaker.

 The manuscript should be prepared according to the following

 TITLE Do not underline, italicize, or place your title in quotation
marks; write the title in Title Case (standard capitalization), not
in all capital letters. If the article is in another language, the
manuscripts must include the translation of the title in English

Together with the manuscript, the authors must send their actual
professional address and the e-mail address.

No more than 200 words, in English.
KEYWORDS 5-7 words in English.

The manuscript cannot be longer than 8000 words. The book reviews
cannot be longer than 3000 words. The manuscript should be typed and
single-spaced on A4 paper, Gramond style 12. Emphasizing italics are
not to be used excessively. Bold type is not used anywhere in an
article, apart from the title. Use italics for the title of the work
and, only when is absolutely necessary, providing emphasis. If the
paper is divided into sections use an Arabic number and a period
followed by a space and the section name. In-text citations: any
source information that you provide in-text must correspond to the
source information on the References page. The author's last name and
the page number(s) from which the quotation or paraphrase is taken
must appear in the text, and a complete reference should appear on
your References page. The author's name may appear either in the
sentence itself or in parentheses following the quotation or
paraphrase, but the page number(s) should always appear in the
parentheses, not in the text of your sentence. When a source has no
known author, use a shortened title of the work instead of an author
name. Place the title in quotation marks if it's a short work (e.g.
articles) or italicize it if it's a longer work (e.g. plays, books,
television shows, entire websites) and provide a page number. Do not
include URLs in-text. Only provide partial URLs such as when the name
of the site includes a domain. Multiple citations. To cite multiple
sources in the same parenthetical reference, separate the citations
by a semi-colon. Quoted material, translations and page references
must be exact. For short quotations enclose the quotation within
double quotation marks. Question marks and exclamation points should
appear within the quotation marks if they are a part of the quoted
passage but after the parenthetical citation if they are a part of
your text. The extended quotations (40+ words) are displayed (with
left indentation). In displayed quotations no quotation marks are
used around the quotation itself.

The manuscripts must include references and/or endnotes, not
footnotes. All cited authors must be included in references and/or
endnotes. Notes are always endnotes. Short references should be
included in the text of articles and not put in endnotes. Use the
endnotes as bibliographical notes, which refer to other publications
your readers may consult or as explanatory notes (content notes),
which refers to brief additional information that might be too
digressive for the main text.

For every entry, you must determine the Medium of Publication (Print
or Web sources). If you're citing an article or a publication that
was originally issued in print form but that you retrieved from an
online database, you should type the online database name in italics.
Capitalize each word in the titles of articles, books, etc, but do not
capitalize articles (the, an), short prepositions or conjunctions
unless one is the first word of the title or subtitle: The Art of
War. Use italics for titles of works (books, magazines) and quotation
marks for titles of shorter works (poems, articles). Format: One
author: Lastname, Firstname. Title of Book. Place of Publication:
Publisher, Year of Publication. Medium of Publication. Two authors:
Lastname, Firstname and Firstname Lastname. Title of Book. Place of
Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication. Medium of Publication.
More than three authors: Lastname, Firstname, et. al. Title of Book.
Place of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication. Medium of
Publication. Chapter in collective work: Lastname, Firstname. 'Title
of chapter.' Title of Book, Collection. Ed. Editor's Name(s). Place
of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication. Page range of entry.
Medium of Publication. Article: Lastname, Firstname. 'Title of
article.' Title of Journal Volume. Issue (Year): pages. Medium of
Publication. Web entries must follow a similar format. Lastname,
Firstname. 'Title of article.' Title of Journal Volume. Issue (Year):
pages. Medium of Publication. Day month year

1. The author assumes all responsibility for the ideas expressed in
the material published. Submission of a manuscript implies: that the
work described has not been published before; that it is not under
consideration for publication anywhere else; that its publication has
been approved by all co-authors, if any, as well as by the responsible
authorities - tacitly or explicitly - at the institute where the work
has been carried out. The publisher will not be held legally
responsible should there be any claims for compensation.

2. The authors have the obligation to respect all rules concerning
the law governing copyright. Authors wishing to include figures,
tables, or text passages that have already been published elsewhere
are required to obtain permission from the copyright owner(s) for
both the print and online format and to include evidence that such
permission has been granted when submitting their papers. Any
material received without such evidence will be assumed to originate
from the authors. 3. All texts are reviewed by two experts. The
double-blind peer review process is expected to take 2-3 months or
more in some cases. The editors may ask for revision and may require
reformatting of accepted manuscripts.

 Aims and Scope

 Cultura. International Journal of Philosophy of Culture and Axiology
is the only journal in Romania and, as far as we know, one of the few
in Europe, that is centered upon the study of values as a fundament
for culture.
The journal aims to promote the study of values in both regional and
international context, pursuing the changes that occur at these
levels in the contemporary world. It publishes original contributions
in the field of systematic philosophy, but also the latest approaches
regarding ethics and philosophy of art.

 Journal coverage

Thomson Reuters (ISI) - Arts & Humanities Citation Index
EBSCO, SCOPUS (Elsevier)
MLA International Bibliography
The International Consortium for the Advancement of Academic
Publication (ICAAP)
CNCSIS (The National University Research Council, Romania) - 'A'
Ulrich's Periodicals Directory
Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)

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