Chapter

The Naturalists Return

Kitcher Philip

in Preludes to Pragmatism

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199899555
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980154 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199899555.003.0003
The Naturalists Return

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This chapter was written at a stage when the author's sympathies with pragmatism were fragmentary and tentative. The naturalism this chapter considers and advocates strikes the author today as timid and hedged. For, although it applauds the reintroduction of psychology within epistemology and campaigns against the view that there is much a priori knowledge, it does not protest more broadly the invocation of Special Powers. At its heart, however, is an embryonic pragmatist thought: epistemology is conceived as ameliorative project. Its task is to canvass the strategies available for arriving at conclusions about nature, and to try to improve them so that they more reliably issue in the acceptance of truth. Or, as the chapter puts it in an insufficiently pondered phrase, so that they more reliably achieve “the epistemic good.”. That murky formulation was important to the argument: any liaison between pragmatism and the author's epistemological naturalism had to be carried on in darkness. For the chapter is much concerned to discover a stable position between traditional philosophy (“post-Fregeanism”), pursued by those with Special Powers in their Special Armchairs, and a radical form of skepticism the author viewed to be a live option. The envisaged skeptics appeal to facets of the history and sociology of science to undermine any claims that scientific inquiries reliably achieve truth. The chapter condenses a response that defends the progress of science and the reliability of its canons of evidence with respect to progress.

Keywords: pragmatism; naturalism; psychology; epistemology; Special Powers; meliorative project; epistemological naturalism; science

Chapter.  24139 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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