Philosophy Word of the Day – Fallibilism

Karl Popper in 1990.

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“Fallibilism is the view that human knowledge lacks a secure and an infallible foundation. Fallibilism is associated in particular with American scientist and philosopher Charles S. Peirce (1839–1914) and Austrian-born philosopher Karl Popper (1902–1994). In its most comprehensive form the fallibilist maintains that people cannot know anything with certainty. In its more restricted forms uncertainty is attributed to a particular domain of beliefs, such as empirical or religious beliefs. What separates fallibilists from others is the confidence each gives to epistemological success in general or within a particular domain. Participants within the science/religion discussion quite frequently affirm fallibilism. Its merit seems to be that it opens up possibilities for a dialogue on more even terms than foundationalism does.”

Mikael Stenmark in Encyclopedia of Science and Religion

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2 thoughts on “Philosophy Word of the Day – Fallibilism

  1. Good point, Jay. We can all benefit from a good dose of epistemic humility. There’s definitely a balance there to try to achieve–a balance between thinking we know everything with mathematical certainty and thinking we can know very little or nothing at all.

  2. I think fallibilism is an incredibly important concept in science. Unfortunately, many scientists don’t seem to understand that. I think it is also important in Christianity. While we have been given an infallible revelation from God, our ability to interpret it is fallible. Unfortunately, many Christians don’t seem to understand that.

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