One way to answer “how do we know…?” is to justify one’s belief by reference to an authoritative source or cornerstone of knowledge. This is, in effect, saying “by what authority do we claim…?” which seeks endorsement in order to have certainty. Justificationism as a theory of knowledge therefore resists change (or at least delays in a form of path dependence).
Accepting authority as a source of knowledge also means accepting any other theories that stem from said authority.
Few things—if any—that are true in the absolute sense and the success of science proves that. Simply look at all the things we knew to be true that ended up being incorrect or misunderstood. Then observe all the progress since the 17th century compared to prior human history.
- Authority of knowledge leads to status quo preserving behavior (someone loses if knowledge turns out to be incorrect) and loss aversion
- From the book The Beginning of Infinity
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For new knowledge to be created, there needs to be an error correcting mechanism. This makes it the most important knowledge for progress and innovation.
The process of seeking out good explanations is error correcting. It is tolerant of dissent with a healthy dose of skepticism and distrust of authority. It means that explanations are rejected when they are contradicted by better explanations.