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On the Role of the Research Agenda in Epistemic Change

Erik J. Olsson and David Westlund
Erkenntnis (1975-)
Vol. 65, No. 2 (Sep., 2006), pp. 165-183
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27667859
Page Count: 19
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On the Role of the Research Agenda in Epistemic Change
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Abstract

The standard way of representing an epistemic state in formal philosophy is in terms of a set of sentences, corresponding to the agent's beliefs, and an ordering of those sentences, reflecting how well entrenched they are in the agent's epistemic state. We argue that this wide-spread representational view — a view that we identify as a "Quinean dogma" — is incapable of making certain crucial distinctions. We propose, as a remedy, that any adequate representation of epistemic states must also include the agent's research agenda, i.e., the list of question that are open or closed at any given point in time. If the argument of the paper is sound, a person's questions and practical interests, on the one hand, and her beliefs and theoretical values, on the other, are more tightly interwoven than has previously been assumed to be the case in formal epistemology.

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