Quine's Naturalism and Behaviorisms

Metaphilosophy 49 (4):548-567 (2018)
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This paper investigates the complicated relations between various versions of naturalism, behaviorism, and mentalism within the framework of W. V. O. Quine's thinking. It begins with Roger Gibson's reconstruction of Quine's behaviorisms and argues that it lacks a crucial ontological element and misconstrues the relation between philosophy and science. After getting clear of Quine's naturalism, the paper distinguishes between evidential, methodological, and ontological behaviorisms. The evidential and methodological versions are often conflated, but they need to be clearly distinguished in order to see whether Quine's argument against mentalism is cogent. The paper argues that Quine's naturalism supports only the weakest version of behaviorism, that is, the evidential one, but this version is compatible with mentalistic semantics. Quine's opposition to mentalism is an overreaction from the behaviorist camp. By contrast, Jerry Fodor's objection to Jose Luis Bermudez is an overreaction from the opposite direction.

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Tony Cheng
University College London


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