Is there any word or phrase that refers to the set of methods that a certain being will use to work out what is true and what isn't true? It should be a noun or noun phrase. The phrase must refer to specifically the methods that are inherently part of the being's reasoning, rather than learned philosophies

Example Sentence: "Humans have a different _______ to most other species due to our adaptations language"

  • But how does language detect or analyze what's true or not? Jan 9, 2023 at 2:08
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    I would suggest epistemology, but I don't think that clearly separates innate and learned methods.
    – jejorda2
    Jan 9, 2023 at 3:17
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    What's a being, and what happened to your missing periods?
    – tchrist
    Jan 9, 2023 at 4:06
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    The philosophical term you're asking about is Epistemology. It studies how humans can tell what's true. It's usually studied along with Ontology, which studies what things there are and tries to distinguish them from imagination. Jan 9, 2023 at 16:02
  • Your example sentence seems meaningless - I don't know what "adaptations language" is supposed to mean. I also don't think there's an exact word that describes the precise meaning you want - you'll just have to assemble a phrase (something like "theory of truth" is jargonny, but you're better off just saying what you mean rather than trying to find a jargon term).
    – Stuart F
    Jan 9, 2023 at 16:48

1 Answer 1


Humans have a different heuristic to most other species...

From Wikipedia:

Heuristics is the process by which humans use mental short cuts to arrive at decisions. Heuristics are simple strategies that humans, animals,13 organizations,4 and even machines[5] use to quickly form judgments, make decisions, and find solutions to complex problems. Often this involves focusing on the most relevant aspects of a problem or situation to formulate a solution.[6][7][8][9] While heuristic processes are used to find the answers and solutions that are most likely to work or be correct, they are not always right or the most accurate.[10]...

Judgments and decisions based on heuristics are simply good enough to satisfy a pressing need in situations of uncertainty, where information is incomplete.

At What is a single word for the capability of a theory, for example, to generate further thought and theorizing? , I found the following commentary at rhetorician's answer:

I only knew the computing usage [of "heuristic"] until I found Educational: Of or relating to an educational method or resource that enables students or children to learn by making discoveries for themselves, rather than being directed in OED yesterday. But today I just searched Google Books for "a heuristic theory" and found A heuristic theory, in contrast to a nomological one, appeals to our knowing how to go about in the world. Forcing me to look up nomological = nomothetic Of or relating to the study or discovery of general scientific laws. I'd have thought the implication is that nomological/nomothetic theories are the ones that lead to further theories, because they're based on general principles, not context-specific ones. – FumbleFingers Oct 1, 2014 at 17:49

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    The quotation from Wikipedia does not support the assertion that humans have different heuristics to most other species. Jan 9, 2023 at 15:25
  • @HighPerformanceMark No, but that's Ichthys King's baby to defend, not mine. The quote given does not preclude different strategies being used by the different species, I think--correct me if I'm wrong.
    – Conrado
    Jan 9, 2023 at 15:31
  • Indeed the quotation doesn't preclude the assertion in the first statement of the answer. But nor does the quotation All men are mortal. (High Performance Mark, after Socrates). Neither your quotation nor mine support the assertion. Jan 9, 2023 at 15:44
  • @High True, they don't--I'll give you that. But -- I can't remember who said this (I think it was in some essay by Bertrand Russel) and a quick google search didn't find it: "It is amazing how much of human speech can be explained without appealing to thought", leaving us to wonder (if we confine ourselves to science) whether humans really do use a different anything than the other species to decide what's true. I, on the other hand, have a conviction (can't prove it, you know) that people do think differently, but I don't even have any good scientific arguments for it..
    – Conrado
    Jan 9, 2023 at 15:53
  • @High You're not saying that my answer is completely orthogonal, are you? Because it could be, you know; it's just the first word that came to my mind (if you accept that I have one, of course!) and I've been wrong before, and probably will be after. "For I am a bear of very little brain.."
    – Conrado
    Jan 9, 2023 at 15:59

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