Glossary of Terms ‘F’

Written By Thomas Perez. December 14th, 2010 at 5:21PM. Copyright 2010.

Fallibilism
Doctrine that absolute certainty about knowledge is impossible; or at least that all claims to knowledge could, in principle, be mistaken. As a formal doctrine, it is most strongly associated with Charles Sanders Peirce, who used it in his attack on foundationalism. Unlike scepticism, fallibilism does not imply the need to abandon our knowledge- we needn’t have logically conclusive justifications for what we know. Rather, it is an admission that because empirical knowledge can be revised by further observation, all knowledge, excepting that which is axiomatically true (such as mathematical and logical knowledge) exists in a constant state of flux.

Falsificationism
The idea that a proposition or theory cannot be scientific if it does not admit the possibility of being shown to be false. For example, the proposition “All crows are black” is a scientific proposition because it can be falsified by the observation of one white crow.

Fascism
Political ideology and mass movement that seeks to place the nation, defined in exclusive biological, cultural, and historical terms, above all other loyalties, and to create a mobilized national community. Many different characteristics are attributed to fascism by different scholars, but the following elements are usually seen as its integral parts: nationalism, authoritarianism, militarism, corporatism, totalitarianism, collectivism, anti-liberalism, and anti-communism.

Feminism
A diverse collection of social theories, political movements, and moral philosophies, largely motivated by or concerning the experiences of women, especially in terms of their social, political, and economic situation. As a social movement, feminism largely focuses on limiting or eradicating gender inequality and promoting women’s rights, interests, and issues in society.

Fatalism
The view that human deliberation and actions are pointless and ineffectual in determining events, because whatever will be will be. One ancient argument, called the idle argument, went like this: “If it is fated for you to recover from your illness, then you will recover whether you call a doctor or not. Likewise, if you are fated not to recover, you will not do so even if you call a doctor. So, calling a doctor makes no difference.” Arguments like this are usually rejected even by causal determinists, who may say that it may be determined that only a doctor can cure you.

Fideism
In Christian theology, the position that reason is more-or-less irrelevant to religious belief, that rational or scientific arguments for the existence of God are fallacious and irrelevant, and have nothing to do with the truth of Christian theology. Its argument in essence goes: “Christian theology teaches that people are savedby faith. But, if God’s existence can be proven, either empirically or logically, faith becomes irrelevant. Therefore, if Christian theology is true, no proof of God’s existence is possible.” The term is occasionally used to refer to a belief that Christians are saved by faith alone: for which see sola fide. This position is sometimes called solifidianism.

Finalism
The philosophy that any event is defined by an already-set final outcome and that all events leading up to that outcome are shaped the end result.

Formalism
Means a number of different things:
A certain school in the philosophy of mathematics, stressing axiomatic proofs through theorems specifically associated with David Hilbert.
A school of thought in law and jurisprudence which emphasizes the fairness of process over substantive outcomes. See Legal formalism.
In economic anthropology, formalism is the theoretical perspective that the principles of neoclassical economics can be applied to our understanding of all human societies.
A certain rigorous mathematical method: see formal system.
A set of notations and rules for manipulating them which yield results in agreement with experiment or other techniques of calculation. These rules and notations may or may not have a corresponding mathematical semantics. In the case no mathematical semantics exists, the calculations are often said to be purely formal. See for example scientific formalism.
In the study of the arts and literature, formalism refers to the style of criticism that focuses on artistic or literary techniques in themselves, in separation from the work’s social and historical context. See formalism (art), formalism (literature).
In the study of film and film theory, formalism is used to refer to a style of criticism that focuses on the technical aspects of filmmaking (e.g., lighting, sets, costumes, etc). It was also used to describe an avant-garde experimental film movement, often seen as odd or extremist, which was concerned with the beauty of the actual physical form of film (i.e., the celluloid itself).

Formulism
Meaning adherence to or reliance on formulas, is also a school of philosophy that states that good, evil and choosing the correct actions can all be determined from a simple formula.

Foundationalism
Any justification or knowledge theory in epistemology that holds that beliefs are justified (known) when they are based on basic beliefs (also called foundational beliefs). Basic beliefs are beliefs that are self-justifying or self-evident, and don’t need to be justified by other beliefs. Basic beliefs provide justificatory support to other beliefs, which can in turn support further derivative beliefs. Foundationalists hold that basic beliefs are justified by mental events or states (such as experiences) that do not constitute beliefs (these are called nondoxastic mental states), or that they simply are not the type of thing that can (or needs to be) justified.

Freudianism
The beliefs and practice of psycho analysis as devised by Sigmund Freud; particularly, the mechanism of psychological repression; the situation of sexual desire as central to the development of the persona; and the efficacy of the “talking cure” or psychoanalytic technique.

Functionalism
The dominant theory of mental states in modern philosophy. Functionalism was developed as an answer to the mind-body problem because of objections to both identity theory and logical behaviourism. Its core idea is that the mental states can be accounted for without taking into account the underlying physical medium (the neurons), instead attending to higher-level functions such as beliefs, desires, and emotions.

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