“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 strong 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)

Author: Steve McRae