Few questions divide people more than “what is true?”

In the mundane and trivial questions of day-to-day life as much as in the heady existential questions of philosophy and physics, so much of our experience of disagreement revolves around the nature of truth, how we know what is true and false, and how we update our maps when our previous understanding of the truth has been proven wrong.

These are epistemic questions.

Imagine you have arrived to a new city for a vacation with a close friend or significant other. As you are about to leave your accommodation to explore, one of you raises the question “should we bring an umbrella?”

This immediately begs the question “will it rain?”

Answering the practical question “what should we do?” is conditioned upon answering the epistemic question “what do we know?” This common pattern of communication mostly operates at a subconscious level. Few people are engaging in active philosophical analysis of their interactions in real-time (few people with friends willing to travel with them, at least).

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