What Is Absolute Synthetic Knowledge? Essay examples

What Is Absolute Synthetic Knowledge? Essay examples

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One of the longstanding questions in scientific philosophy is whether absolute synthetic knowledge can be attained. Is it ever possible for our scientific theories to truly describe the world as it is? If so, how can we know when we have reached the point of truth? Two schools of thought exist that pertain to these questions. The infallibilist believes that absolute synthetic knowledge is attainable, and that any currently held theory cannot be deposed by a competitor theory. This viewpoint was held by many before the advancement of the theory of general relativity in the 1920s, after which the fallibilist viewpoint became the prominent school of thought, and still dominates philosophical and scientific thinking today. While the infallibilist believes that scientific laws truly describe the world as it is, the fallibilist believes that we can never have complete confidence in our current scientific theories, and as such all scientific theories are subject to revision. However, fallibilism does not posit that truth is unattainable; it is possible to be a fallibilist and still believe that science progresses towards the truth, but with the caveat that truth can never actually be achieved.
It is undeniable that the ultimate goal of science is to understand the true world. However, while this may be the aim of science, its actual progress is difficult to objectively measure due to the lack of a standard of truth. In other words, it is difficult to ascertain how close our scientific theories are to reflecting the true world since there is no indication of how far we have left to go. This problem is at the foundation of the fallibilist belief; according to Howard Sankey, “the fallibilist points to the existence of scientific theory-c...


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...e. Even if a theory completely and accurately describes the truth of the world, it is impossible to know whether this is the case in the absence of an objective standard of truth. Therefore, currently accepted theories will always be cast in doubt and subject to revision.
The fallibilist viewpoint is necessary in order to progress closer to the truth due to its nature of theory-change. Despite constantly challenging currently accepted theories, fallibilists are still able to believe that science progresses towards the truth, as illustrated in the historical example of the transition from Newtonian to Einsteinian science. However, it is impossible to permit that truth can be achieved if one takes up a fallibilist standpoint since this negates the potential for theory change and revision, and essentially implies that infallible theories do exist at the point of truth.

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