Realism, Naturalism, and Pragmatism: A Closer Look at the Views of Quine and Devitt

Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 21 (1):64-83 (2007)
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Michael Devitt’s views on realism and naturalism have a lot in common with those of W.V. Quine. Both appear to be realists; both accept naturalized epistemology and abandon the old goal of first philosophy; both view philosophy as continuous with the empirical procedures of science and hence view metaphysics as similarly empirical; and both seem to view realism as following from naturalism. Although Quine and Devitt share quite a bit ideologically, I think there is a deeper, more fundamental dissimilarity between the two. I will explore the difference between them in an attempt to bring out the subtle complexities surrounding the issue of realism--complexities, I will argue, Devitt sometimes overlooks. I will also explore a real tension in Quine between his earlier, more pragmatic (or anti-realist) tendencies and his later, more austere realism. I will conclude by defending a more Quinean brand of realism I call internal realism.
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