Discuss Epistemology And Its Relevance

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Discuss epistemology and its relevance to intelligence analysis. Select at least two principal “ways of knowing,” and describe their respective characteristics/attributes, strengths, weaknesses, and potential for improving the quality of intelligence analysis.

Merriam-Webster defines epistemology as “the study of the nature, origin, and limits of human knowledge.” As applied to intelligence, the application of epistemology becomes highly important when analysts are making judgements while assessing information that is not fully factual. Analysts work with information that can be ambiguous, deceptive, conflicting, and even absent; yet, they are required to produce intelligence products that are reliable enough for policymakers to act upon and make decisions. In these situations, the analyst must make good use of epistemology to ensure that the intelligence judgements are reliable. Regarding intelligence analysis, there are four epistemologies, or “ways of knowing”, that are used: authority, habit of thought, rationalism, and empiricism. Science is a fifth epistemology that combines attributes of rationalism and empiricism. An analyst must know which epistemology he or she used to understand the errors that may be made and the self-correcting mechanisms needed to improve reliability. Authoritative epistemology occurs when an analyst relies on another person’s authority to make a judgement. Their “basis of knowledge resides in a reference to something more
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