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Posted by Harvey on July 31, 2003 11:46:31 UTC

Epistemic assumptions are those that you can refer to without requiring that we accept a certain ontology. For example, if I say for you to assume that it is going to rain in your area, and I base that assumption that it is 80% likely based on the empirical forecasts in your area, then this is an empirical assumption. Had I asked you to assume that 'reality is', now this would be an ontic assumption. That is, we have no way of identifying reality per se, just the things in reality that our tools and senses are able to measure or sense. Since you are not interested in any empirical association to your knowledge, you are seen as 'way out there'. A strictly empirical person (and there are some) would see you as completely insane. For those who look for epistemic arguments heavily mixed in with philosophy (e.g., me), you still look way out there and not worthy of debate. Dick is also way out there, but at least he understand epistemic reasoning since this is the whole basis of his paper. Just getting him to see that the basis of some firm epistemic conclusion requires either epistemic assumptions combined with epistemic reasoning, or it requires ontic assumptions and reasoning that somehow turn into epistemic conclusions that can be tested (e.g., scientific predictions). Dick proposes ontic assumptions, reasons ontologically, and then comes to ontic conclusions, and somehow draws from that he has come upon more secure knowledge than epistemic conclusions (which he rejects as being firm in the sense that he doesn't think the results of scientific experiments is enough firm validity to have strong confidence in scientific theories).

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