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December 28, 2005

New paper: Neglecting the naturalism in Quine's naturalized epistemology: Lessons from Kim's failed critique

I have a new paper online. This is an expanded version of a section I from my dissertation that I've done at one conference, and will be doing at another (the Central Division APA) in April. Here's the abstract:

Jaegwon Kim's influential argument against Quine's naturalized epistemology is examined, and shown to neglect crucial aspects of Quine's basic philosophic approach, methodological naturalism. First, Kim suggests that Quine presents a false alternative between the Cartesian quest for certainty and naturalized epistemology, arguing that Quine ignores normative alternatives to Cartesianism. Kim's critique fails here, because he mischaracterizes the scope of Quine's project: his naturalism, particularly via his indeterminacy of translation thesis, has the effect of ruling out far more alternatives than Kim suspects. Second, Kim suggests that Quine's putative rejection of normativity is a problem for the evaluation of cognitive outputs, but Kim ignores Quine's behaviorism, which obviates his need for a normative interpretive theory of beliefs. It is suggested that debating about the naturalism's relation to normativity is superfluous: to critique naturalized epistemology, it is necessary to attack the basic naturalistic motivation that fuels the indeterminacy thesis and associated principles.

I'm looking to submit this for publication soon, so I welcome comments.

UPDATE: Left comments on a sympathetic blog entry by Majikthise.

Posted by Ben at December 28, 2005 08:41 PM