Naturalizing Epistemology

Stephen Stich

in Collected Papers, Volume 2

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199733477
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199949823 | DOI:
Naturalizing Epistemology

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In recent years there has been a great deal of discussion about the prospects of developing a “naturalized epistemology,” though different authors tend to interpret this label in quite different ways. This chapter sketches three projects that might lay claim to the “naturalized epistemology” label, and argues that they are not all equally attractive. Indeed, the first of the three—the one attributed to Quine—is simply incoherent. There is no way we could get what we want from an epistemological theory by pursuing the project Quine proposes. The second project is a naturalized version of reliabilism. While this project is not fatally flawed in the way that Quine’s is, the sort of theory this project would yield is much less interesting than might at first be thought. The third project is located squarely in the pragmatist tradition. One of the claims made for this project is that if it can be pursued successfully the results will be both more interesting and more useful than the results that might emerge from the reliabilist project. A second is that there is some reason to suppose that it can be pursued successfully. It is argued that for over a decade one version of the project has been pursued with considerable success by Herbert Simon and his co-workers in their ongoing attempt to simulate scientific reasoning. The final section offers a few thoughts on the various paths Simon’s project, and pragmatist naturalized epistemology, might follow in the future.

Keywords: naturalized epistemology; Quine; reliabilism; Herbert Simon; scientific reasoning

Chapter.  7436 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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