Title 5 – KQ 3 : To what extent the language influences the use of evidence in case of testing and accepting knowledge claims?

KQ 3 : To what extent the language influences the use of evidence in case of testing and accepting knowledge claims?

W V Quine in his celebrated paper” Two Dogmas of Empiricism “ stressed on distinction between analytic statements and synthetic statements . The truth or falsehood in analytic statements is function of the meanings of the words in the statements whereas in synthetic statements the truth or falsehood of the statement is the function of the context, state of affairs or the situation. He also argued against Reductionism , that the statements get the meaning from logical construction of terms but the ones which refer exclusively to immediate experience. Charles Sanders Peirce had insisted on the similar theme that axioms are not apriori truths but synthetic statements.

Norwood Russell Hanson first coined the term ‘ theory laden character of observation’ suggesting the idea that the observations is dependent on the initial set conceptual framework of the observer. Basically you will look only for what you have thought or known or conceptualised ; our preconceptions affect our observation and description. Hanson gives the example of Brahe and Kepler observing the dawn and seeing a “different” sun rise despite the same physiological phenomenon.


Imre Lakatos and Thomas Kuhn (1961) also have emphasized on the “theory laden” character of observation. Kuhn specifically highlights the fact that “ the scientist generally has a theory in mind before designing and undertaking experiments so as to make empirical observations, and that the “route from theory to measurement can almost never be traveled backward”. This implies that the way in which theory is tested is dictated by the nature of the theory itself, which led Kuhn (1961, p. 166) to argue that “once it has been adopted by a profession … no theory is recognized to be testable by any quantitative tests that it has not already passedPaul Feyerabend similarly, in his book ‘Against Method’ argued that science is not a genuinely methodological process.

“The availability heuristic causes the reasoner to depend primarily upon information that is readily available to him/her. People have a tendency to rely on information that is easily accessible in the world around them. For example, in surveys, when people are asked to estimate the percentage of people who died from various causes, most respondents would choose the causes that have been most prevalent in the media such as terrorism, and murders, and airplane accidents rather than causes such as disease and traffic accidents, which have been technically “less accessible” to the individual since they are not emphasized as heavily in the world around him/her.

The confirmation bias is based on the natural tendency to confirm rather than to deny current hypothesis. Research has demonstrated that people are inclined to seek solutions to problems that are more consistent with known hypotheses rather than attempt to refute those hypotheses. Often, in experiments, subjects will ask questions that seek answers that fit established hypotheses, thus confirming these hypotheses. For example, if it is hypothesized that Sally is a sociable individual, subjects will naturally seek to confirm the premise by asking questions that would produce answers confirming that Sally is in fact a sociable individual.”