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Paul Grobstein's picture

sharpening the argument

Thanks for the thoughts. I agree with you that "our way of inquiry is to set up 'properties and rules' so that we can pit them against one another ...". The upshot, I'd argue though, is not so much to see "which theory can stand the test of time" as to see what new theories/stories are created, ones that improve on existing theories/stories because they not only account for all observations to date but motivate new ones. If the current manuscript isn't clear about the ongoing reciprocal and mutually dependent relationship between observing and story telling (creating "properties and rules"), it needs to be made more so.

I agree that in the classroom empirical non-foundationalism would make students "less likely to trust what the teacher is saying", and actually see that as an asset rather than a problem. I would indeed like to see students (people in general) become "distrustful of all ... authority figures". Can this happen without also causing a loss of the "will to learn", yielding simply "skeptics with no education"? I share your concern that people should not become "uninformed skeptics". My own sense is that the risk of this happening is greater when teachers act as "authorities" then it is when they act as "empirical non-foundationalists". After all, it is already happening. Maybe "empirical non-foundationalism" could help to correct it, not only in and for "a prefect scholarly world" but for the real one, where we have serious problems about conflicts between authorities and many people feel they lack an alternative to being "merely skeptics"?


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