From Knowability to Conjecturability

Daniele Chiffi, Ahti Veikko Pietarinen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-227
Number of pages23
JournalContemporary Pragmatism
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Philosophy

User-Defined Keywords

  • Conjecturability
  • Knowability
  • Modality
  • Peirce
  • Pragmaticism
  • Scientific progress
  • Values


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