A Controversy-Oriented Approach to the Theory of Knowledge
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This book explores a disputational approach to inquiry. Such a focus on disputation is useful because it exhibits epistemological process at work in a setting of socially conditioned interactions. This socially oriented perspective reflects the anti-Cartesian animus of the dialectical approach to epistemology. It strives to avert the baneful influence of the egocentric orientation of recent approaches in the theory of knowledge.
The traditional and orthodox emphasis on the epistemological questions How can I convince myself? and How can I be certain? invites us to forget the fundamentally social nature of the ground rules of probative reasoning—their rooting in the issue of how we can go about convincing one another. The dialectic of disputation and controversy provides a useful antidote to such cognitive egocentrism by affording a point of departure in epistemology which blocks any temptation to forget the crucial fact that the buildup of knowledge is a communal enterprise subject to communal standards.
Nicholas Rescher is University Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh. He is the author of The Coherence Theory of Truth, Methodological Pragmatism, Conceptual Idealism, and other publications.