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Publication Details

Quine and the Naturalistic Fallacy

(Original title: Quine a naturalistický omyl)
Filozofia, 78 (2023), 8, 664 - 674.
Type of work: Original Articles
Publication language: Slovak
The article focuses on the problem of normativity in Quine’s naturalized epistemology. Quine characterizes his epistemological project mainly in descriptive terms, which seemingly problematizes the normative side of epistemology. Although Quine offers a certain explanation of normativity within his conception, known as “cognitive engineering,” there is a suspicion that he commits a serious logical error, the so-called naturalistic fallacy. Two attitudes can be taken to this suspicion. First, the naturalistic fallacy is indeed present in Quine’s thinking, but it cannot be attributed a negative meaning because it is an inevitable consequence of the naturalization of epistemology. Second, Quine does not commit the naturalistic fallacy because he derives the normativity of epistemology from the “terminal parameter,” i.e. an external goal against which cognitive strategies are assessed. The latter interpretation seems to be in better agreement with Quine’s statements. In this understanding, naturalized normativity has an instrumental character, which ranks it among the tools of instrumental rationality, linked to practical aspects of human activities.

W.V.O. Quine, Naturalized Epistemology, Normative epistemology, Cognitive engineering, Naturalistic fallacy, Instrumental normativity

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