From Knowability to Conjecturability

In: Contemporary Pragmatism
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  • 1 DAStU, Politecnico di Milano, Milano, Italychiffidaniele@gmail.com
  • | 2 Tallinn University of Technology, Tallinn, Estonia; Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia;
  • | 3 HSE University; Moscow Nazarbayev University; Nur-Sultanahti.pietarinen@gmail.com

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Arguments from knowability have largely been concerned with cases for and against realism, or truth as an epistemic vs. non-epistemic concept. This article proposes bringing Peirce’s pragmaticism, called here ‘action-first’ epistemology, to bear on the issue. It is shown that a notion weaker than knowability, namely conjecturability, is epistemologically a better-suited notion to describe an essential component of scientific inquiry. Moreover, unlike knowability, conjecturability does not suffer from paradoxes. Given fundamental uncertainty that permeates inquiry, knowability and what Peirce took to be ‘perfect knowledge’ lose their appeal in epistemology of science. From the points of view of the logic for pragmatics and the modal translations given in this article, conjecturability and pragmaticism provide an enriched epistemology for scientific practices that can accommodate both epistemic and non-epistemic values.

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