Naturalized epistemology - HKT Consultant (2023)

A notion introduced explicitly byWillard Van Orman Quine(1908-2000) though with roots going back toDavid Hume(1711-1776).

The idea is that since it is impossible to achieve a satisfactory justification for our claims to knowledge we should cease to look for one, and construct a scientific account -in purely ‘natural’ terms and without reference to justification – of how in fact we come to hold the beliefs we do.

This issue of whether to pursue justification or scientific explanation must be distinguished, it has been claimed, from the question of whether justification itself should be sought by appeal to natural facts (such as causal relations), as opposed to, for example, rational considerations that would entail the conclusion to be justified. (Also see:causal theory of knowledge,externalism,internalism.)

(Video) As regards the general perception of the union of feminist epistemology and naturalized...

A comparison can also be made betweennaturalismin epistemology and in ethics.

Also see:psychologism

Source:
J Kim, ‘What is “Naturalized Epistemology”?’, Philosophical Perspectives (1988);
WVO Quine, Ontological Relativity and Other Essays (1969)

(Video) According to the author, feminist epistemologists may alter their views on naturalized...

Forms of naturalism

Replacement naturalism

W. V. O. Quine’sversion of naturalized epistemology considers reasons for serious doubt about the fruitfulness of traditional philosophic study of scientific knowledge.[1]These concerns are raised in light of the long attested incapacity of philosophers to find a satisfactory answer to the problems of radical scepticism, more particularly, toDavid Hume’s criticism of induction. But also, because of the contemporaneous attempts and failures to reduce mathematics to pure logic by those in or philosophically sympathetic toThe Vienna Circle. He concludes that studies of scientific knowledge concerned with meaning or truth fail to achieve theCartesiangoal ofcertainty. The failures in the reduction of mathematics to pure logic imply that scientific knowledge can at best be defined with the aid of less certain set-theoretic notions. Even if set theory’s lacking the certainty of pure logic is deemed acceptable, the usefulness of constructing an encoding of scientific knowledge as logic and set theory is undermined by the inability to construct a useful translation from logic and set-theory back to scientific knowledge. If no translation between scientific knowledge and the logical structures can be constructed that works both ways, then the properties of the purely logical andset-theoreticconstructions do not usefully inform understanding of scientific knowledge.[1]

On Quine’s account, attempts to pursue the traditional project of finding the meanings and truths of science philosophically have failed on their own terms and failed to offer any advantage over the more direct methods of psychology. Quine rejects the analytic-synthetic distinction and emphasizes the holistic nature of our beliefs. Since traditional philosophic analysis of knowledge fails, those wishing to study knowledge ought to employ natural scientific methods. Scientific study of knowledge differs from philosophic study by focusing on how humans acquire knowledge rather than speculative analysis of knowledge.[1]According to Quine, this appeal to science to ground the project of studying knowledge, which itself underlies science, should not be dismissed for itscircularitysince it is the best option available after ruling out traditional philosophic methods for their more serious flaws. This identification and tolerance of circularity is reflected elsewhere in Quine’s works.[2]

Cooperative naturalism

Cooperative naturalism is a version of naturalized epistemology which states that while there are evaluative questions to pursue, the empirical results from psychology concerning how individuals actually think and reason are essential and useful for making progress in these evaluative questions. This form of naturalism says that our psychological and biological limitations and abilities are relevant to the study of human knowledge. Empirical work is relevant to epistemology but only if epistemology is itself as broad as the study of human knowledge.[3]

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Substantive naturalism

Substantive naturalism is a form of naturalized epistemology that emphasizes how all epistemic facts are natural facts. Natural facts can be based on two main ideas. The first is that all natural facts include all facts that science would verify. The second is to provide a list of examples that consists of natural items. This will help in deducing what else can be included.[3]

Criticism

Quine articulates the problem of circularity inherent in naturalized epistemology when it is treated as a replacement for traditional epistemology.[1]If the goal of traditional epistemology is to validate or to provide the foundation for the natural sciences, naturalized epistemology would be tasked with validating the natural sciences by means of those very sciences. That is, an empirical investigation into the criteria which are used to scientifically evaluate evidence must presuppose those very same criteria.[4]However, Quine points out that these thoughts of validation are merely a byproduct of traditional epistemology.[1]Instead, the naturalized epistemologist should only be concerned with understanding the link between observation and science even if that understanding relies on the very science under investigation.[1]

In order to understand the link between observation and science, Quine’s naturalized epistemology must be able to identify and describe the process by which scientific knowledge is acquired. One form of this investigation isreliabilismwhich requires that a belief be the product of some reliable method if it is to be considered knowledge. Since naturalized epistemology relies on empirical evidence, all epistemic facts which comprise this reliable method must be reducible to natural facts.[3]That is, all facts related to the process of understanding must be expressible in terms of natural facts. If this is not true, i.e. there are facts which cannot be expressed as natural facts, science would have no means of investigating them. In this vein,Roderick Chisholmargues that there are epistemic principles (or facts) which are necessary to knowledge acquisition, but may not be, themselves, natural facts.[3]If Chisholm is correct, naturalized epistemology would be unable to account for these epistemic principles and, as a result, would be unable to wholly describe the process by which knowledge is obtained.

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Beyond Quine’s own concerns and potential discrepancies between epistemic and natural facts,Hilary Putnamargues that the replacement of traditional epistemology with naturalized epistemology necessitates the elimination of thenormative.[5]But without the normative, there is no “justification, rational acceptability [nor] warranted assertibility”. Ultimately, there is no “true” since any method for arriving at the truth was abandoned with the normative. All notions which would explain truth are only intelligible when the normative is presupposed. Moreover, for there to be “thinkers”, there “must be some kind of truth”; otherwise, “our thoughts aren’t really about anything [,…] there is no sense in which any thought is right or wrong”.[5]Without the normative to dictate how one should proceed or which methods should be employed, naturalized epistemology cannot determine the “right” criteria by which empirical evidence should be evaluated.[4]But these are precisely the issues which traditional epistemology has been tasked with. If naturalized epistemology does not provide the means for addressing these issues, it cannot succeed as a replacement to traditional epistemology.

Jaegwon Kim, another critic of naturalized epistemology, further articulates the difficulty of removing the normative component. He notes that modern epistemology has been dominated by the concepts ofjustificationandreliability.[6]Kim explains that epistemology and knowledge are nearly eliminated in their common sense meanings without normative concepts such as these. These concepts are meant to engender the question “What conditions must a belief meet if we are justified in accepting it as true?”. That is to say, what are the necessary criteria by which a particular belief can be declared as “true” (or, should it fail to meet these criteria, can we rightly infer its falsity)? This notion of truth rests solely on the conception and application of the criteria which are set forth in traditional and modern theories of epistemology.

Kim adds to this claim by explaining how the idea of “justification” is the only notion (among “belief” and “truth”) which is the defining characteristic of an epistemological study. To remove this aspect is to alter the very meaning and goal of epistemology, whereby we are no longer discussing the study and acquisition of knowledge. Justification is what makes knowledge valuable and normative; without it what can rightly be said to be true or false? We are left with only descriptions of the processes by which we arrive at a belief. Kim realizes that Quine is moving epistemology into the realm of psychology, where Quine’s main interest is based on the sensory input–output relationship of an individual. This account can never establish an affirmable statement which can lead us to truth, since all statements without the normative are purely descriptive (which can never amount to knowledge). The vulgar allowance of any statement without discrimination as scientifically valid, though not true, makes Quine’s theory difficult to accept under any epistemic theory which requires truth as the object of knowledge.

(Video) As regards the general perception of the union of feminist epistemology and naturalized...

As a result of these objections and others like them, most, including Quine in his later writings, have agreed that naturalized epistemology as a replacement may be too strong of a view.[3]However, these objections have helped shape rather than completely eliminate naturalized epistemology. One product of these objections is cooperative naturalism which holds that empirical results are essential and useful to epistemology. That is, while traditional epistemology cannot be eliminated, neither can it succeed in its investigation of knowledge without empirical results from the natural sciences. In any case, Quinean Replacement Naturalism finds relatively few supporters

FAQs

Can epistemology be naturalized? ›

Some naturalists believe that epistemology should simply abandon conceptual analysis; some accept that conceptual analysis is a necessary and nonscientific part of epistemology, and conclude that only parts of epistemology can be naturalized; and some hold that conceptual analysis itself should become an experimental ...

What does naturalized epistemology stand for? ›

Naturalized epistemology (a term coined by W. V. O. Quine) is a collection of philosophic views concerned with the theory of knowledge that emphasize the role of natural scientific methods.

What does naturalized mean in philosophy? ›

Article Summary. Naturalized philosophy of science is part of a general programme of naturalism in philosophy. Naturalists reject all forms of supernaturalism, holding that reality, including human life and culture, is exhausted by what exists in the causal order of nature.

What replaced naturalism? ›

2. Replacement Naturalism I: Against Conceptual Analysis. Replacement Naturalism holds that conceptual and justificatory theories—the traditional fare of philosophy—are to be replaced by empirical and descriptive theories.

Is religion an epistemology? ›

The epistemology of religion is the branch of epistemology concerned with the rationality, the justificatory status and the knowledge status of religious beliefs – most often the belief in the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient and loving God as conceived by the major monotheistic religions.

Is feminism and epistemology? ›

Feminist epistemology focuses on how the social location of the knower affects what and how she knows. It is thus a branch of social epistemology. Individuals' social locations consist of their ascribed social identities (gender, race, sexual orientation, caste, class, kinship status, trans/cis etc.)

What is epistemology in philosophy with examples? ›

Examples of Epistemology

There are three main examples or conditions of epistemology: truth, belief and justification. First of all, truth occurs when false propositions cannot be discerned. Consequently, in order for something to be considered as knowledge, it must be true in nature.

What is naturalism knowledge? ›

Definition. Naturalistic epistemology is an approach to the theory of knowledge based on the use of scientific methods and empirical data rather than relying solely on deductive methods and a priori analysis of concepts. Within philosophy, knowledge is generally associated with justified true beliefs.

Why is social epistemology important? ›

Social epistemology is theoretically significant because of the central role of society in the knowledge-forming process. It also has practical importance because of its possible role in the redesign of information-related social institutions.

What is normative epistemology? ›

Normative epistemology mostly deals with first-order theorizing about how we should form justified beliefs, gain understanding, truth and knowledge, offer accounts of the basic sources of knowledge (like memory, perception, testimony) and so forth, but it does not pursue higher-order questions about these matters or ...

Is realism an epistemological theory? ›

Epistemological realism is a philosophical position, a subcategory of objectivism, holding that what can be known about an object exists independently of one's mind. It is opposed to epistemological idealism.

What is epistemic normativity? ›

Epistemic normativity raises foundational questions concerning the semantics, metaphysics and epistemology of epistemology; questions that are traditionally asked about moral claims, such as the claim that murder is wrong.

Why do we obey law positivism or naturalism? ›

The primary aim for the positivist is only limited to study the law, as it is. The law got the very sanction behind it since it has got its validity from the authority itself. Positivist view this authority, as the only reason to obey the law, in the famous words of Austin, it being the “Command of the Sovereign”.

What are examples of naturalism? ›

Therefore, in naturalism work, the characters might be controlled by their environment or fight for their survival. A great example of naturalism is John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. In the beginning, the Joad family are instinctive animals just trying to survive against the powerful forces of society and nature.

Is naturalism the same as natural law? ›

According to Taiwo, legal naturalism is both natural law and positive law, constituting a duality of legal existence. The theory is distinctive from other theories under naturalism in the sense that it views natural law as part of social formation or mode of production.

What is epistemology in Christianity? ›

“Many people-including Christians and scholars-are unaware that there is a growing treasure trove of philosophical explorations in Christian epistemology: the study of how one might know, or rationally believe, that Christianity is true.

What is epistemology in theology? ›

Thus, epistemology is, essentially, the foundation of every theological method. From a methodological perspective, epistemology attempts to answer what exactly theologians are doing when they attempt to know something and what exactly do they know when they do it.

What is naturalized feminist epistemology? ›

a.

Feminist naturalized epistemologies have developed as a way of taking account of the fact that knowers are located in “epistemic spaces” and the ways in which knowledge is more properly understood on a community rather than an individual model.

What is critical epistemology? ›

Specifically, critical epistemology is concerned with knowledge that is subjective and grounded in personal and professional sociohistorical processes.

Why is feminist epistemology necessary? ›

Feminist epistemology compels us to critically examine the edifice of epistemic theorizing from the viewpoint of the subjugated position; thus the claims of standpoint theory will be addressed in order to understand the interconnected relationship between the social and political marginalization of women, and other ...

What are the 3 models of epistemology? ›

Three Models of Epistemic Dependence | Testimony, Trust, and Authority | Oxford Academic.

What are the three main questions of epistemology? ›

In these debates and others, epistemology aims to answer questions such as "What do we know?", "What does it mean to say that we know something?", "What makes justified beliefs justified?", and "How do we know that we know?".

What are the 5 Epistemologies? ›

Core topics of epistemology
  • Perception.
  • Memory.
  • Introspection.
  • Inference.
  • Testimony.

What are the 4 types of naturalism? ›

do not smoothly converge in the two theoretical traditions.
  • A Framework for Naturalist Analysis.
  • Indian Concepts of Nature. 2.1 Atomism : Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika. 2.2 Atomism: The Buddhist and the Jaina Views. 2.3 An Extreme Naturalism (Svabhāvavāda) ...
  • Methodological Naturalism: Nyāya Epistemology.
  • Moral Naturalism: karma and adṛṣṭa.
5 Mar 2012

Do naturalists believe in God? ›

Many psychologists belong to the naturalist tradition — they view their findings as religion-neutral and see God as unnecessary to their work. Naturalistic psychologists “see science as merely describing reality without interpreting it,” says Slife.

Who is the father of naturalism? ›

Naturalism was first proposed and formulated by Emile Zola, the French writer and theorist, who is universally labeled as the founder of literary naturalism.

What is an example of social epistemology? ›

The most conservative social epistemologies look only at the effects of social processes on individual reasoning and knowledge. For example, Kornblith (in Schmitt 1994) looks at those circumstances under which one scientist can judge that it is reasonable to rely on the expertise of another scientist.

What is epistemology in social research? ›

Social epistemology refers to a broad set of approaches that can be taken in epistemology (the study of knowledge) that construes human knowledge as a collective achievement. Another way of characterizing social epistemology is as the evaluation of the social dimensions of knowledge or information.

What is epistemology in sociology? ›

Epistemology is the philosophy of knowledge. Epistemologists are interested in how and whether we know anything. In sociology there is a discussion about social facts and social constructs and the difference between positivism and interpretivism.

Is epistemology a meta? ›

Both conceptions of epistemology are meta-epistemological in nature; they embody views of what epistemology is, what its aims and methods are, and under what conditions an epistemological question counts as answered, an epistemological problem as solved.

What is normative thinking? ›

In philosophy, normative theory aims to make moral judgements on events, focusing on preserving something they deem as morally good, or preventing a change for the worse. The theory has its origins in Greece.

Is naturalism a metaphysics? ›

Nature operates by the laws of physics and in principle, can be explained and understood by science and philosophy; and 4. the supernatural does not exist, i.e., only nature is real. Naturalism is therefore a metaphysical philosophy opposed primarily by Biblical creationism.

What is the major problem of epistemology? ›

The central problem in the epistemology of perception is that of explaining how perception could give us knowledge or justified belief about an external world, about things outside of ourselves.

What are the problems of epistemology? ›

Some historically important issues in epistemology are: (1) whether knowledge of any kind is possible, and if so what kind; (2) whether some human knowledge is innate (i.e., present, in some sense, at birth) or whether instead all significant knowledge is acquired through experience (see empiricism; rationalism); (3) ...

What are the 4 types of realism? ›

The four propositions of realism are as follows.
  • State-centrism: States are the most important actors.
  • Anarchy: The international system is anarchic. ...
  • Egoism: All states within the system pursue narrow self-interests. ...
  • Power politics: The primary concern of all states is power and security.

What is reality pragmatism? ›

According to Pragmatism, the truth or meaning of an idea or a proposition lies in its observable practical consequences rather than anything metaphysical. It can be summarized by the phrase whatever works, is likely true.

What is knowledge according to Reliabilism? ›

Ramsey (1931) is often credited with the first articulation of a reliabilist account of knowledge. He claimed that knowledge is true belief that is certain and obtained by a reliable process. That idea lay more-or-less dormant until the 1960s, when reliabilist theories emerged in earnest.

What is pragmatism philosophy? ›

Pragmatism is a philosophical movement that includes those who claim that an ideology or proposition is true if it works satisfactorily, that the meaning of a proposition is to be found in the practical consequences of accepting it, and that unpractical ideas are to be rejected.

What is the opposite of legal positivism? ›

The opposite of legal positivism is natural law. Natural law argues that legal principles derive from human values.

What is an example of legal positivism? ›

For example, two lawyers might agree that a rule is valid if enacted by the state legislature, but disagree on whether the rule at issue was actually enacted by the state legislature. Such disagreements are empirical in nature and hence pose no theoretical difficulties for positivism.

What's the difference between positivism and naturalism? ›

Positivists aim to work out theories that apply to people or societies broadly. Naturalists focus more on themes that are true at some time or in some places, while working to learn which ele- ments of a complex environment affected what was seen or heard.

What is naturalism in simple words? ›

Naturalism is the belief that nothing exists beyond the natural world. Instead of using supernatural or spiritual explanations, naturalism focuses on explanations that come from the laws of nature.

What is difference between realism and naturalism? ›

“Realism is a manner and method of composition by which the author describes normal, average life, in an accurate, truthful way,” while “Naturalism is a manner and method of composition by which the author portrays 'life as it is' in accordance with the philosophic theory of determinism.”

What is the main idea of naturalism? ›

naturalism, in philosophy, a theory that relates scientific method to philosophy by affirming that all beings and events in the universe (whatever their inherent character may be) are natural. Consequently, all knowledge of the universe falls within the pale of scientific investigation.

What is the highest kind of law according to Aquinas? ›

Concerning natural law, Aquinas

Aquinas
'Thomas of Aquino'; 1225 – 7 March 1274) was an Italian Dominican friar and priest, who was an immensely influential philosopher, theologian and jurist in the tradition of scholasticism; he is known within the scholastic tradition as the Doctor Angelicus, the Doctor Communis, and the Doctor Universalis.
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Thomas_Aquinas
argues that there is one highest principle from which all others are derived: “Good is to be done and evil is to be avoided.” We determine what is “good” for us by looking at our human inclinations, and he lists six relevant ones: self-preservation, sexual intercourse, educating our ...

Which is better natural law or legal positivism? ›

Good Law: Natural Law considers good law as the law that reflects natural moral order through reason and experience. Legal Positivism considers good law as the law that is enacted by proper legal authorities, following the rules, procedures, and constraints of the legal system.

Who is the main proponent of natural law theory? ›

John Locke based his theories related to economics on a version of natural law, arguing that people have a natural right to claim unowned resources and land as private property, thereby transforming them into economic goods by mixing them with their labor.

What is normative epistemology? ›

Normative epistemology mostly deals with first-order theorizing about how we should form justified beliefs, gain understanding, truth and knowledge, offer accounts of the basic sources of knowledge (like memory, perception, testimony) and so forth, but it does not pursue higher-order questions about these matters or ...

What is epistemology in philosophy with examples? ›

Examples of Epistemology

There are three main examples or conditions of epistemology: truth, belief and justification. First of all, truth occurs when false propositions cannot be discerned. Consequently, in order for something to be considered as knowledge, it must be true in nature.

Is realism an epistemological theory? ›

Epistemological realism is a philosophical position, a subcategory of objectivism, holding that what can be known about an object exists independently of one's mind. It is opposed to epistemological idealism.

What is epistemic normativity? ›

Epistemic normativity raises foundational questions concerning the semantics, metaphysics and epistemology of epistemology; questions that are traditionally asked about moral claims, such as the claim that murder is wrong.

Is epistemology a meta? ›

Both conceptions of epistemology are meta-epistemological in nature; they embody views of what epistemology is, what its aims and methods are, and under what conditions an epistemological question counts as answered, an epistemological problem as solved.

Why is social epistemology important? ›

Social epistemology is theoretically significant because of the central role of society in the knowledge-forming process. It also has practical importance because of its possible role in the redesign of information-related social institutions.

What is normative thinking? ›

In philosophy, normative theory aims to make moral judgements on events, focusing on preserving something they deem as morally good, or preventing a change for the worse. The theory has its origins in Greece.

What are the 3 models of epistemology? ›

Three Models of Epistemic Dependence | Testimony, Trust, and Authority | Oxford Academic.

What are the three main questions of epistemology? ›

In these debates and others, epistemology aims to answer questions such as "What do we know?", "What does it mean to say that we know something?", "What makes justified beliefs justified?", and "How do we know that we know?".

What are the 5 Epistemologies? ›

Core topics of epistemology
  • Perception.
  • Memory.
  • Introspection.
  • Inference.
  • Testimony.

What is the major problem of epistemology? ›

The central problem in the epistemology of perception is that of explaining how perception could give us knowledge or justified belief about an external world, about things outside of ourselves.

What are the problems of epistemology? ›

Some historically important issues in epistemology are: (1) whether knowledge of any kind is possible, and if so what kind; (2) whether some human knowledge is innate (i.e., present, in some sense, at birth) or whether instead all significant knowledge is acquired through experience (see empiricism; rationalism); (3) ...

What are the 4 types of realism? ›

The four propositions of realism are as follows.
  • State-centrism: States are the most important actors.
  • Anarchy: The international system is anarchic. ...
  • Egoism: All states within the system pursue narrow self-interests. ...
  • Power politics: The primary concern of all states is power and security.

Is naturalism a metaphysics? ›

Nature operates by the laws of physics and in principle, can be explained and understood by science and philosophy; and 4. the supernatural does not exist, i.e., only nature is real. Naturalism is therefore a metaphysical philosophy opposed primarily by Biblical creationism.

What is naturalistic theory? ›

naturalism, in philosophy, a theory that relates scientific method to philosophy by affirming that all beings and events in the universe (whatever their inherent character may be) are natural.

What is knowledge according to naturalism? ›

Then, a naturalistic approach to knowledge is one according to which knowledge is a natural phenomenon, in particular, a natural process continuous with the biological process by which life is sustained and evolved. For, knowledge has a vital role, in the sense that life exists only insofar as there is knowledge.

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