Quine's Argument from Despair

Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Abstract
Quine's argument for a naturalized epistemology is routinely perceived as an argument from despair: traditional epistemology must be abandoned because all attempts to deduce our scientific theories from sense experience have failed. In this paper, I will show that this picture is historically inaccurate and that Quine's argument against first philosophy is considerably stronger and subtler than the standard conception suggests. For Quine, the first philosopher's quest for foundations is inherently incoherent; the very idea of a self-sufficient sense datum language is a mistake, there is no science-independent perspective from which to validate science. I will argue that a great deal of the confusion surrounding Quine's argument is prompted by certain phrases in his seminal ‘Epistemology Naturalized’. Scrutinizing Quine's work both before and after the latter paper provides a better key to understanding his remarkable views about the epistemological relation between theory and evidence.
PhilPapers/Archive ID
VERQAF
Upload history
Archival date: 2015-11-21
View other versions
Added to PP index
2014-01-17

Total views
391 ( #11,975 of 52,987 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
26 ( #24,641 of 52,987 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.