Our only channel of information about the world is the impact of external forces on our sensory surfaces. So says science itself. There is no clairvoyance. How, then, can we have parlayed this meager sensory input into a full-blown scientific theory of the world? This is itself a scientific question. The pursuit of it, with free use of scientific theory, is what I call naturalized epistemology. The Roots of Reference falls within that domain. Its more specific concern, within that domain, (...) is reference to concrete and abstract objects: what such reference consists in, and how we achieve it. (shrink)
In retrospecting "Two Dogmas" I find myself overshooting by twenty years. I think back to college days, 61 years agao. I majored in mathematics and was doing my honors reading in mathematical logic, a subject that had not yet penetrated the Oberlin curriculum. My new love, in the platonic sense, was Whitehead and Russell's Principia Mathematica.
Kant's question 'How are synthetic judgments a priori possible?' pre- cipitated the Critique of Pure Reason. Question and answer notwith- standing, Mill and others persisted in doubting that such judgments were possible at all. At length some of Kant's own clearest purported.
Naturalism holds that there is no higher access to truth than empirically testable hypotheses. Still it does not repudiate untestable hypotheses. They fill out interstices of theory and lead to further hypotheses that are testable.A hypothesis is tested by deducing, from it and a background of accepted theory, some observation categorical that does not follow from the background alone. This categorical, a generalized conditional compounded of two observation sentences, admits in turn of a primitive experimental test.The observation sentences themselves, like (...) ape cries and bird calls, are in holophrastic association with ranges of neural intake. Denotation of determinate objects figures neither in this association nor in deducing the categorical from the scientific hypotheses. Hence the indeterminacy of reference; ontology is purely auxiliary to the structure of theory. Truth, however, is seen still as transcendent at least in this sense: we say of a superseded scientific theory not that it ceased to be true, but that it is found to have been false. (shrink)