Norms, Naturalism and Epistemology: The case for science by Jonathan Knowles (auth.)

By Jonathan Knowles (auth.)

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E. e. motivating a taxonomy of NE), the point of direct importance is that though Quine himself appears only to see a seamless development of a single, core intuition relating his various ideas, his stress on psychology and his stress on the metaphor of the boat/web of belief may be seen as two quite distinct ways of reacting to TE. The former emphasises the centrality of an a posteriori examination of the way our sensory systems, brains and/or cognitive systems are actually organised in any viable descendent of TE – something that has since been taken up by many who do not accept Quine’s strongly empiricist and physicalist views on the nature and genesis of knowledge.

I call this anti-foundational NE (or AF ). e. not merely temporal) basis for our epistemic activities. Epistemology turns out, if you like, to have some specific object of study – alongside that of physics, chemistry, biology and so on – which it is the job of the epistemologist to uncover; it is just that for the naturalised epistemologist this object is not conceived of as some realm of apriori truths. Within this antiaprioristic camp one can place a psychologistic NE (or P, as I shall refer to it), which seeks to give a theory of norms through detailing the structure of our actual belief-forming mechanisms (where these could perhaps be viewed as tacitly known principles in a natural reasoning competence – more on which below).

42 In this book, I will be precisely considering different conceptions of a theory of genuine43 epistemic norms that takes as its backdrop the naturalism I have been describing in this section. 45 The idea that naturalism should open for such possibilities may or may not be immediately evident; that it does do this, or at least appears to do so, will be the plaint of Chapter 2 (in large part) to demonstrate – notwithstanding that I will ultimately be arguing that none of the possibilities adumbrated are capable of delivering genuine norms that are also necessary for optimal beliefformation.

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