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Learning Theory and Epistemology Kevin T. Kelly
 

Summary: Learning Theory and Epistemology
Kevin T. Kelly
Department of Philosophy
Carnegie Mellon University
September 24, 2001
1 INTRODUCTION
Learning is the acquisition of new knowledge and skills. It spans a range of processes from
practice and rote memorization to the invention of entirely novel abilities and scientific theories
that extend past experience. Learning is not restricted to humans: machines and animals
can learn, social organizations can learn, and a genetic population can learn through natural
selection. In this broad sense, learning is adaptive change, whether in behavior or in belief.
Learning can occur through the receipt of unexpected information, as when a detective learns
where the suspect resides from an anonymous informant. But it can also be a process whose
arrival at a correct result is in some sense guaranteed before the new knowledge is acquired.
Such a learning process may be said to be reliable at the time it is adopted. Formal Learning
Theory is an a priori, mathematical investigation of this strategic conception of reliability. It
does not examine how people learn or whether people actually know, but rather, how reliable any
system, human or otherwise, could possibly be. Thus, learning theory is related to traditional
psychological and epistemological issues, but retains its own, distinct emphasis and character.
Reliability is a notoriously vague concept, suggesting a disposition to acquire new knowledge

  

Source: Andrews, Peter B. - Department of Mathematical Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University

 

Collections: Mathematics