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Epistemology and methodology: main trends and ends

These ponderings may be described as first-order queries. They in turn inevitably generate others that are, as it were, second-order queries, and which are equally or more troubling. What is it to know something? What counts as evidence for or against a particular theory? What is meant by a proof? Or even, as the Greek Sceptics asked, is human knowledge possible at all, or is human access to the world such that no knowledge and no certitude about it is possible? The answers to these second-order questions also require the construction of theories, and in this respect epistemology is no different from the other branches of philosophy. One can thus define or characterise epistemology as that branch of philosophy, which is dedicated to the resolution of such first- and second-order queries.

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