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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-P019-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 16, 2024, from

Article Summary

Fallibilism is a philosophical doctrine regarding natural science, most closely associated with Charles Sanders Peirce, which maintains that our scientific knowledge claims are invariably vulnerable and may turn out to be false. Scientific theories cannot be asserted as true categorically, but only as having some probability of being true. Fallibilists insist on our inability to attain the final and definitive truth regarding the theoretical concerns of natural science – in particular at the level of theoretical physics. At any rate, at this level of generality and precision each of our accepted beliefs may turn out to be false, and many of them will. Fallibilism does not insist on the falsity of our scientific claims but rather on their tentativity as inevitable estimates: it does not hold that knowledge is unavailable here, but rather that it is always provisional.

Citing this article:
Rescher, Nicholas. Fallibilism, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-P019-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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