Logique Et Analyse 1 (456):449-466 (2021)

Matt Carlson
Wabash College
In this paper, I develop a new interpretation of Quine’s epistemology in the hopes of clarifying the relationship between naturalized epistemology and traditional epistemology. Quine’s naturalized epistemology is commonly criticized on the grounds that it amounts to giving up on traditional epistemological projects in favor of projects in natural science. But, I argue, this criticism rests on a mistaken interpretation of Quine’s epistemology. This is because Quine’s naturalized epistemology retains an important meliorative component; part of its aim is to improve our systems of beliefs. Quine’s approach emphasizes improving our beliefs by engaging in conceptual clarification, which is a central part of both traditional and naturalized epistemology, as well as, on Quine’s conception, scientific inquiry. Thus, I argue, a central task of naturalized epistemology is to clarify science from within. Once this is properly understood, it is evident that Quine’s naturalized epistemology constitutes a re-orientation, rather than a wholesale rejection, of the projects of traditional epistemology.
Keywords Naturalism  Epistemology  Normativity  Conceptual Clarification
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