Enlightened Empiricism: An Examination of W.V. Quine's Theory of Knowledge

Enlightened Empiricism: An Examination of W.V. Quine's Theory of Knowledge

Enlightened Empiricism: An Examination of W.V. Quine's Theory of Knowledge

Enlightened Empiricism: An Examination of W.V. Quine's Theory of Knowledge

Excerpt

In a previous book (Gibson 1982), I presented Quine's philosophy as a systematic attempt to answer, from a uniquely empiricistic point of view, what Quine takes to be the central question of epistemology, viz., 'How do we acquire our theory of the world and why does it work so well?'. The picture of Quine that emerged from that undertaking--Quine the systematic epistemologist--is, I believe, both surprising and accurate. It is surprising because it contrasts markedly with the theretofore predominant picture of Quine the logician and sometime essayist. Its accuracy may be less obvious because many philosophers who call themselves epistemologists do something quite different from what my picture of Quine paints him as doing. The epistemologists I have in mind are those who concern themselves with providing a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for knowledge, such as, for example, S knows that p if and only if (1) p is true, (2) S believes that p, (3) S is justified in believing that p, and (4) S's justification for believing that p is indefeasible.

It certainly must be granted that Quine is not attempting to ascertain the set of necessary and sufficient conditions for the truth of such claims as 'S knows that p':

Knowledge, nearly enough, is true belief on strong evidence. How strong? There is no significant cut off point. 'Know' is . . .

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