Mirrors :

The Glossary is a collection of keywords related to epistemology.

ArgumentsAd baculumAd ignorantiamAd populumAd verecundiamAd consequentiamAd hominemEx silentioArgumentationBy analogyBy definitionFrom omniscienceInferential distanceInferential empathyNon sequiturPhenomenonsMatthew effectToolsOccam's razorKolmogorov complexitySolomonoff inductionBeliefsBeliefPriorsAliefProper beliefImproper beliefBelief in beliefSocialDunbar's numberTypesAltruismHedonismReductionismEgalitarianismConsequentialismUtilitarianismDictionaryAnthropomorphismAkrasiaCausalityDefensibilityIncredulitySuggestibilityPrimingRationalizationCompartmentalizationPredictionConnotationConfabulationIntrinsicIntransigenceBeneffectanceReactanceTeleologyLateralusAnti-inductivenessAnti-epistemologyMiscDutch book


Ad baculum

Argument relying on an appeal to fear or a threat.

Ad ignorantiam

Argument relying on people's ignorance.

Ad populum

Argument relying on sentimental weakness.

Ad verecundiam

Argument relying on the the words of an "expert" or authority.

Ad consequentiam

Argument that concludes a premise as either true or false based on whether the premise leads to desirable or undesirable consequences.

Ad hominem

Attacking the person instead of the argument.

Ex silentio

Argument relying on ignorance.


By analogy

Arguing that since things are alike in some ways, they will probably be alike in others.

By definition

Arguing that something is part of a class because it fits the definition of that class.

From omniscience

An arguer would need omniscience to know about everyone's beliefs or disbeliefs or about their knowledge.

Example: All people believe in something. Everyone knows that.

Inferential distance

Gap between the background knowledge and epistemology of a person trying to explain an idea, and the background knowledge and epistemology of the person trying to understand it.

Inferential Empathy

It's an inference made about other person's mental states using your own brain as reference, by making your brain feel or think in the same way as the other person you can emulate their mental state and predict their reactions.

Non sequitur

An inference that does not follow from established premises or evidence; "It does not follow".

Example: There occured an increase of births during the full moon. Conclusion, full moons cause birth rates to rise. But does a full moon actually cause more births, or did it occur for other reasons, perhaps from expected statistical variations?



Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.


Occam's razor

When several theories are able to explain the same observations, Occam's razor suggests the simpler one is preferable. Principle commonly stated as "Entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity".

Kolmogorov complexity

Given a string, the length of the shortest possible program that prints it.

Solomonoff induction

Formalized version of Occam's razor based on Kolmogorov complexity. The prior probability of an observation(extra prior, prior to any other observation or measurement) is the inverse kolmogoroff complexity of the binary string encoding the world in which it occurs.



The mental state in which an individual holds a proposition to be true.


The beliefs an agent holds regarding a fact, hypothesis or consequence, before being presented with evidence.


An independent source of emotional reaction which can coexist with a contradictory belief.

Example: The fear felt when a monster jumps out of the darkness in a scary movie is based on the alief that the monster is about to attack you, even though you believe that it cannot.

Proper belief

Requires observations, gets updated upon encountering new evidence, and provides practical benefit in anticipated experience.

Improper belief

Is a belief that isn't concerned with describing the territory. Note that the fact that a belief just happens to be true doesn't mean you're right to have it. If you buy a lottery ticket, certain that it's a winning ticket (for no reason), and it happens to be, believing that was still a mistake.

Belief in belief

Where it is difficult to believe a thing, it is often much easier to believe that you ought to believe it. Were you to really believe and not just believe in belief, the consequences of error would be much more severe. When someone makes up excuses in advance, it would seem to require that belief, and belief in belief, have become unsynchronized.


Dunbar's Number

A suggested cognitive limit(150) to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships.



Actions undertaken for the benefit of other people.

Example: If you do something to feel good about helping people, or even to be a better person in some spiritual sense, it isn't truly altruism.


A set of philosophies which hold that the highest goal is to maximize pleasure, or more precisely pleasure minus pain.


Disbelief that the higher levels of simplified multilevel models are out there in the territory, that concepts constructed by mind in themselves play a role in the behavior of reality.


The idea that everyone should be considered equal. Equal in merit, equal in opportunity, equal in morality, and equal in achievement.


Ethical theory that people should choose the action that will result in the best outcome.


A moral philosophy that says that what matters is the sum of everyone's welfare, or the "greatest good for the greatest number".

Pascal's mugging is a thought-experiment demonstrating a problem in expected utility maximization. A rational agent should choose actions whose outcomes, when weighed by their probability, have higher utility. But some very unlikely outcomes may have very great utilities, and these utilities can grow faster than the probability diminishes. Hence the agent should focus more on vastly improbable cases with implausibly high rewards.



Attributing distinctly human characteristics to nonhuman processes.


State of acting against one's better judgment.


Relationship between a cause and an effect, where the effect is a direct consequence of the cause.


Arguing that a policy is defensible rather than optimal or that it has some benefit compared to the null action rather than the best benefit of any action.


Spending emotional energy on incredulity wastes time you could be using to update. It repeatedly throws you back into the frame of the old, wrong viewpoint. It feeds your sense of righteous indignation at reality daring to contradict you.


A form of misattribution where ideas suggested by a questioner are mistaken for memory.


Psychological phenomenon that consists in early stimulus influencing later thoughts and behavior.


Starts from a conclusion, and then works backward to arrive at arguments apparently favouring that conclusion. Rationalization argues for a side already selected.


Tendency to restrict application of a generally-applicable skill, such as scientific method, only to select few contexts.


Statement or claim that a particular event will occur in the future in more certain terms than a forecast.


Emotional association with a word.


Remembering something that never actually happened.


Ontologically basic entities, thoughts, beliefs, ideas, for which no justification is needed. For instance, belief that the self exists, or that anything exists. The ability to identify "things". Fundamental directives (EG, pursuit of survival, reproduction). Much of the mind is, and aught be, fluid, self-organizing, built from a small set of axioms, an elegant core, but it's impossible to build a working agent without implanting it with a few assumptions, a few mechanisms that will just work straight away. These assumptions are the intrinsics.


Refusal to change one's views or to agree about something.


Tendency to perceive oneself as responsible for desirable outcomes but not responsible for undesirable ones.


Tendency to do the opposite of what someone wants you to do out of a need to resist a perceived attempt to constrain your freedom of choice.


The study of things that happen for the sake of their future consequences. The fallacious meaning of it is that events are the result of future events.


The affliction of illusion of inescapable cyclicality.

Example: The failure to recognize one's growth, inability to dream of unprecedented things, ceding to self-reinforcing systems, being jaded to hope, waiting for nonexistent chickens to hatch from nonexistent eggs.


The idea that the market would stop being efficient if everyone acted like it already was efficient. For example, a vote in a democracy, the more people that believe their vote counts towards the outcome of an election, the less their votes count. Also known as the Reverse Tinkerbell effect.


Bad explicit beliefs about rules of reasoning, usually developed in the course of protecting an existing false belief


Dutch Book

A person who has set prices on an array of wagers in such a way that he or she will make a net gain regardless of the outcome, is said to have made a Dutch book. When one has a Dutch book, his or her opponent always loses.

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