Making Naturalised Epistemology (Slightly) Normative

In Konrad Talmont-Kaminski & Marcin Miłkowski (eds.), Beyond Description. Naturalism and Normativity (2010)
Abstract
The standard objection against naturalised epistemology is that it cannot account for normativity in epistemology (Putnam 1982; Kim 1988). There are different ways to deal with it. One of the obvious ways is to say that the objection misses the point: It is not a bug; it is a feature, as there is nothing interesting in normative principles in epistemology. Normative epistemology deals with norms but they are of no use in prac-tice. They are far too general to be guiding principles of research, up to the point that they even seem vacuous (see Knowles 2003). In this chapter, my strategy will be different and more in spirit of the founding father of naturalized epistemology, Quine, though not faithful to the letter. I focus on methodological prescriptions supplied by cogni-tive science in re-engineering of cognitive architectures. Engineering norms based on mechanism design weren’t treated as seriously as they should in epistemology, and that is why I will develop a sketch of a framework for researching them, starting from analysing cognitive sci-ence as engineering in section 3, then showing functional normativity in section 4, to eventually present functional engineering models of cogni-tive mechanisms as normative in section 5. Yet before showing the kind of engineering normativity specific for these prescriptions, it is worth-while to review briefly the role of normative methodology and the levels of norm complexity in it, and show how it follows Quine’s steps.
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