The pathologies of standard analytic epistemology

Nous 39 (4):696-714 (2005)
Abstract
Standard Analytic Epistemology (SAE) names a contingently clustered class of methods and theses that have dominated English-speaking epistemology for about the past half-century. The major contemporary theories of SAE include versions of foundationalism (Chisholm 1981, Pollock 1974), coherentism (Bonjour 1985, Lehrer 1974), reliabilism (Dretske 1981, Goldman 1986) and contextualism (DeRose 1995, Lewis 1996). While proponents of SAE don’t agree about how to define naturalized epistemology, most agree that a thoroughgoing naturalism in epistemology can’t work. For the purposes of this paper, we will suppose that a naturalistic theory of epistemology takes as its core, as its starting-point, an empirical theory. The standard argument against naturalistic approaches to epistemology is that empirical theories are essentially descriptive, while epistemology is essentially prescriptive, and a descriptive theory cannot yield normative, evaluative prescriptions. In short, naturalistic theories cannot overcome the is-ought divide.
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    D. M. Armstrong (1973). Belief, Truth and Knowledge. London,Cambridge University Press.

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