Knowledge, Truth and Evidence

Edelstein Colloquium 2016-2017

14.6.2017, At the Edelstein Center 20:00

Keith Lehrer, the University of Arizona

Knowledge, Truth and Evidence

I began insisting on the importance of justification interpreted as a form of defensibility in terms of a background system.  Justification is a form of local coherence with a background evaluation system. I argued that undefeated defensibility is knowledge because of the relation to truth in an ultrasystem.  That system is the residue of the evaluation system when error is removed. I turn to an account of exemplar representation as an account of meaning and evidence of truth. Here I seek to connect the account of exemplar representation with truth and knowledge. My intention is to explain the way in which exemplar representation provides the empirical connection of scientific defensibility. To accomplish this I refine and expand the theory of exemplar representation.

Exemplars are the basis of empiricism in the theory of knowledge I defend. Perceptions are justified by the exemplars of experience used to defend our claims about the external world. However, the background evaluation system provides the justification and the defensibility of the evidence of exemplar representation.  You need a system to defend the exemplarized representations of your world, but they are an essential part of the meaning and truth conditions of some of what we accept as the target claims of science and knowledge.   Exemplar representation provides some evidence of truth as it provides an experiential connection for what we accept and a defense against objections. The defense is the evidence of exemplar representations of experience.

Though fallible in what we accept, we may be trustworthy nonetheless. We must be trustworthy for ourselves and others in the defense of our claims and not just accept that we are. Trustworthiness is provided by exemplar representation that allows for a diachronic and dynamic attachment, detachment, and reattachment, of exemplar representation to how we represent our world, ourselves in the world and our world in ourselves. We rest our case for truth on how we connect exemplars of experience, including exemplars of truth, with the meaning of our discourse. Our fallibility guided by the exemplar representations of experience that allows us the plasticity of representation and re-representation of experience to correct our errors. We have no guarantee of truth, but we have the capacity to dynamically change the content of how we represent our world as we exemplarize experience to correct our errors. Our trustworthiness for ourselves and others depends on how we connect and reconnect experience with defensible systematic exemplar representation. When we succeed, we obtain knowledge that is undefeated defensibility.