Naturalism in epistemology, as elsewhere, has a long history. But it is only relatively recently that it has gone by just that name and received so much focused attention. Broadly speaking, however, proponents of NE take the attitude that there should be a close connection between philosophical investigation—here, of such things as knowledge, justification, rationality, etc. Given that the differences amongst naturalistic theories make it difficult to give a precise characterization of NE, it is not surprising that the division between NE and TE is itself something of an idealization.
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Naturalism in epistemology, as elsewhere, has a long history. But it is only relatively recently that it has gone by just that name and received so much focused attention. Broadly speaking, however, proponents of NE take the attitude that there should be a close connection between philosophical investigation—here, of such things as knowledge, justification, rationality, etc.
Given that the differences amongst naturalistic theories make it difficult to give a precise characterization of NE, it is not surprising that the division between NE and TE is itself something of an idealization. Of course, just as there are clear instances where a theory belongs on one or the other side of this divide, there are some real differences between NE and TE broadly understood.
Nonetheless, many specific epistemological theories incorporate elements of each, and so any neat bifurcation of extant epistemologies into NE and TE is bound to sacrifice accuracy for precision. The discussion to follow describes some of the dominant claims, commitments, and forms that naturalistic epistemology, so understood, has taken, and specific examples of such naturalistic views.
As well, both the principal motivations for and the major objections to NE will be discussed. Finally and, in some cases, along the way , we will briefly consider the relation between NE and some other recent and important subjects, positions, and developments—some of them just as controversial as NE itself.
These include externalism, experimental philosophy, social epistemology, feminist epistemology, evolutionary epistemology, and debates about the nature of epistemic rationality. Before considering that work, some background will help to give a sense of the general character of the traditional approach to epistemological theorizing, the various themes running through NE, and the pre-Quinean history of NE.
BonJour 6. Taking our cue from Crumley ; Goldman 1—2, and Pacherie —, make similar suggestions , we can identify the most salient such assumptions as follows:. Obviously, there are natural connections among them. And so on. However, the theories falling within TE are, once again, a varied lot; and those sympathetic to TE at times pull these features apart, emphasizing commitment to them to varying degrees and in different ways.
And so too for those who favor NE: Naturalists join in rejecting one or more of the above features of traditional non-naturalistic epistemology. But different theories and theorists within NE reject—to varying extents, in different ways, and for different reasons—different combinations of these features, and so differ in how much distance is put between their specific view and traditional epistemologies.
Thus, for example, Alvin Goldman — has distinguished between meta-epistemic , substantive and methodological versions of NE: [ 3 ]. The major forms of such appropriate relations are commonly thought to be reduction and supervenience.
In terms of a — d above, meta-epistemic NE would constitute a denial of the autonomy of epistemology b , at least as regards its fundamental ontology. If the relevant evaluative property cannot be appropriately related to natural ones, on this view, it is rejected as unreal—yielding eliminativism or error theory —which would constitute a rejection of c.
Substantive NE : Some object-level thesis in the vein recommended by meta-epistemic NE—that is, an account of some epistemic phenomenon in terms of certain natural non-normative properties or relations. Examples here would include accounts of knowledge or justification in terms of causation Goldman , reliability Armstrong , Goldman , Papineau , Kornblith , natural functions Graham , Millikan , information theoretic notions Dretske , or some kind of nomic or counterfactual dependence Nozick Substantive NE too is a rejection of any very strong version of the autonomy of epistemology b , understood as a claim about its subject matter.
Further, some critics have contended that externalism is, as such, ill-equipped to provide useful guidance to epistemic agents, at least of the first-personal reason-guiding variety.
In this way, it has been thought, substantive naturalistic views might run afoul of c , understood as a claim about a specific type of normative guidance or improvement see, e. For some, this is the primary motive for adopting a naturalistic approach:. The main reason that I believe that epistemology would have much to learn from psychology if psychologists knew more about belief formation is that I believe that in epistemology as in ethics ought implies can.
Epistemic agents cannot and ought not be faulted on the grounds that they did not follow epistemic strategies which are not cognitively possible for them. Grandy ; cf. If the former, we have what Feldman and others, following Kornblith a: 3—4 , refer to as replacement naturalism. In his own work, Goldman a; ; has emphasized the methodological form or dimension of NE; and it is foremost in the work of others as well, including Quine b and Kornblith e.
In terms of the features of TE described above, a commitment to methodological NE would see us rejecting or qualifying both the a priori character of epistemology a , understood as a prescriptive claim, and its methodological autonomy b : on this view, empirical methods and the results obtained thereby have a crucial role to play in epistemological theorizing.
Having reviewed some general features of TE, and some of the major forms and themes of NE, we will next consider some important and influential recent versions of NE, using the above features and categories to clarify and facilitate discussion.
This survey will center on recent epistemological developments. However, it bears emphasizing once again that NE per se is not itself a recent phenomenon: as briefly explained in the next sub section, various themes within NE are as much a part of our epistemological inheritance as are the usual features of TE. While Cartesian epistemology offers an especially vivid instance of all of the features of TE discussed above, some of those same tendencies and concerns are, of course, present in varying degrees in the work of other figures in the epistemological canon.
The assumption that epistemology trades in normative matters, and not just description c , and an abiding concern with skepticism d , for example, can be seen in much epistemology from Descartes through to the present.
Only then, he thought, would we be in a position to get our epistemic position into proper perspective. Stroud 9. But Locke, for example, is more consistently optimistic.
But it also illustrates the above-mentioned shift, characteristic of NE, away from perfectly general questions about the nature and possibility of knowledge to understanding human knowledge, given the facts of our powers and situation:. Similar themes, both methodological and epistemic, are at the forefront in Thomas Reid, who begins his first major work as follows:. All that we know of the body, is owing to anatomical dissection and observation, and it must be by an anatomy of the mind that we can discover its powers and principles….
And Rysiew argues that Reid does not entirely separate psychological facts from epistemic norms. In none of this was the goal to be faithful to actual psychology. Richardson Reichenbach writes:. Epistemology does not regard the processes of thinking in their actual occurrence; this task is entirely left to psychology. What epistemology intends is to construct thinking processes in a way in which they ought to occur if they are to be ranged in a consistent system; or to construct justifiable sets of operations which can be intercalated between the starting-point and the issue of thought-processes, replacing the real intermediate links.
Epistemology thus considers a logical substitute rather than real processes. Reichenbach 5. While enthusiasm for the project of rational reconstruction faded, elements of the program—a disinterest in psychology, a preference for a formal-logical approach, and a concern with precise definition of key terms—were retained. However, because of its undeniable historical importance, and because it will serve to introduce some of the principal objections to NE, it can hardly be ignored.
Addressing the logical empiricist project of rational reconstruction, he says that. Why all this creative reconstruction, all this make-believe? The stimulation of his sensory receptors is all the evidence anybody has had to go on, ultimately, in arriving at his picture of the world. Why not just see how this construction really proceeds?
Why not settle for psychology? If all we hope for is a reconstruction that links science to experience in explicit ways short of translation, then it would seem more sensible to settle for psychology. Better to discover how science is in fact developed and learned than to fabricate a fictitious structure to a similar effect.
Epistemology, or something like it, simply falls into place as a chapter of psychology and hence of natural science. It studies a natural phenomenon, viz. This human subject is accorded a certain experimentally controlled input—certain patterns of irradiation in assorted frequencies, for instance—and in the fullness of time the subject delivers as output a description of the three-dimensional external world and its history. But a conspicuous difference between old epistemology and the epistemological enterprise in this new psychological setting is that we can now make free use of empirical psychology.
But that does not affect the present discussion. In terms of the features of TE laid out above Section 1. Scepticism is an offshoot of science. In the sense that they seem to be material objects which they in fact are not. Illusions are illusions only relative to prior acceptance of genuine bodies with which to contrast them…. But if skepticism itself is born of science, we can appeal to science in answering its doubts. For similar ideas, see Kornblith a and Dretske In thus deflating the skeptical problem, Quine turns his back on d , the final characteristic feature of TE.
In terms of the forms of NE discussed above Section 1. As we will see, some of these are more easily met, at least prima facie , than others. Others still raise issues facing all versions of NE—they remain front and center in current discussions of NE and its prospects. On one version, this is because Quine equates TE with Cartesian epistemology; whereas, by the time of his writing, infallibilism had largely fallen out of fashion e. Instead, by TE had largely turned to the now-familiar analytic program of suggesting definitions, or criteria for the application, of epistemic terms and concepts, revising these in light of often-imaginary counter-examples, and so on Almeder Granted, Quine claims that skeptical arguments inevitably trade on the fact of illusions, which would seem to make other appeals to common sense fair game.
According to BonJour, however,. And even in the case of illusions, skepticism requires only their possibility, not their reality Stroud , Ch. VI; compare Feldman Section 3. Hence, that his endorsement of replacement naturalism has eliminativism as a consequence.
The complaint here is not merely that normativity is a feature of TE Section 1. He is asking us to set aside the entire framework of justification-centered epistemology. Quine is asking us to put in its place a purely descriptive, causal-nomological science of human cognition.
Kim Sellars Sec 32; Siegel —; Lehrer — Evidence as it relates to justification is what concerns the epistemologist. Justification is the central epistemic notion—it makes up the difference between mere true belief and knowledge modulo Gettier , and is the locus of specifically epistemic normativity. For epistemology to go out of the business of justification is for it to go out of business. Kim [ 8 ]. But it seems that nothing in epistemology as Quine conceives of it affords us the resources for evaluating such arguments:.
So long as the naturalists mean to be showing their audience in spoken word and in print that their doctrines are correct, this question will be an urgent one. But how are we supposed to go about trying to answer it? It is hard to see what we can do except evaluate these arguments by the light of the very sorts of epistemic intuitions which the naturalists are so eager to disparage. Kaplan ; cf. Almeder —
Naturalizing Epistemology, Second Edition
Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? The second edition of "Naturalizing Epistemology has been updated and expanded to include seven new articles that take up ongoing debates in the field. As with the first edition, it explores the interaction between psychology and epistemology and addresses empirical questions about how we should arrive at our beliefs, and whether the processes by which we arrive at our beliefs are the ones by which we "ought to arrive at our beliefs. The new material includes a critical examination of Quine's views on epistemology by Jaegwon Kim and an interesting psychological approach to our understanding of natural kinds by Ellen Markman. In other new chapters Jerry Fodor places the notion of observation in a naturalistic perspective, Christopher Cherniak shows how work in the theory of computational complexity bears on the form of an epistemological theory, and Alvin Goldman looks at the relationship between our ordinary epistemological concepts and those of a scientific epistemol-ogy.
A Bradford Book. The second edition of Naturalizing Epistemology has been updated and expanded to include seven new articles that take up ongoing debates in the field. As with the first edition, it explores the interaction between psychology and epistemology and addresses empirical questions about how we should arrive at our beliefs, and whether the processes by which we arrive at our beliefs are the ones by which we ought to arrive at our beliefs. The new material includes a critical examination of Quine's views on epistemology by Jaegwon Kim and an interesting psychological approach to our understanding of natural kinds by Ellen Markman. The prospects for improving our inductive inferences are examined by John Holland, Keith Holyoak, Richard Nisbett, and Paul Thagard, and Stephen Stich suggests a way in which normative concepts may be integrated into a naturalistic epistemology. The book retains articles by W.
Naturalism in Epistemology
Hilary Kornblith is an American philosopher. He is a professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and one of contemporary epistemology 's most prominent proponents of naturalized epistemology. Kornblith received his B. Before coming to University of Massachusetts in , Kornblith taught at the University of Vermont, where he also chaired the department from to His research interests include epistemology , metaphysics and the philosophy of mind. Apart from naturalized epistemology, his most recent work includes the role of intuitions in philosophical theorizing, the conflicts between internalism and externalism in epistemology, and the mental states of non-human animals.