3 AM Philosophy

“Agnosticism” in 3 ways.

The word “agnosticism” is polysemous and has a number of different meanings in philosophy. I will try to briefly explain a few of them from most broadest interpretation to most narrow and most commonly understood usage:

1) Agnosticism in the most broad sense was Thomas Henry Huxley’s view of a normative epistemic principle or method similar to evidentialism or even logical positivism which was one should not believe anything that can not be validated, observed, learned by experiment, or proportionally determined to be True or False etc., or according to Huxley that one has no justification to claim knowledge (or even claim belief) that Gods do or do not exist. (archaic meaning)

2) Agnosticism as an epistemological proposition: The proposition of if the existence of Gods is knowable or unknowable. (sometimes referred to as “weak or soft agnosticism” or “strong or hard agnosticism”)

3) Modern usage of the word “agnosticism” is merely the belief that one is not justified to assign a truth value or T or F to p where p=”at least one God exist” (theism). In this usage the person has attempted to evaluate the proposition, but believes that they do not have sufficient justification to say p is T or p is F and they are therefore suspending judgment on p. In this context it is the psychological state (as opposed to a normative epistemic principle or epistemological proposition) of being agnostic on p, or someone who tries to evaluate p, but does not believe p is true nor believes p is false.

Source: SEP (Atheism)

  1. My far too lengthy response to Mr. Ra’s Pathos blog about Mr. Agnostic. – Great Debate Community™

    […] Mr. Ra also makes a similar strange assertion about agnosticism being “who doesn’t know whether there is a god, or even if such a thing is knowable.” which is known as the epistemological proposition of agnosticism, but agnosticism itself is most commonly understood to be “psychological state of being an agnostic” with ‘agnostic’ being “a person who has entertained the proposition that there is a God but believes neither that it is true nor that it is false.” This is the difference between going to a colloquial dictionary and going to an actual academic source to understand the underlying concepts which unfortunately it seems Mr. Ra does not have a foundational understanding of the difference between agnosticism as a normative epistemic principle, epistemological proposition, or as a psychological state even though Mr. Agnostic has written extensively on the difference of these usages on my occasions. See: https://greatdebatecommunity.com/2019/01/21/agnosticism-in-3-ways/ […]

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