Volume 2, Issue 3, 2002
Theories of Rationality
Naturalistic Epistemologies and Normativity
The main aim of this paper is to investigate what becomes of normativity in naturalistic epistemologies. What particular stand a given naturalistic epistemology takes on normativity will depend both on what it thinks is wrong with traditional epistemology and on what level of normativity is at stake. I propose a tentative typology of possible attitudes towards normativity from within naturalistic epistemology. In section I, I give a brief presentation of traditional epistemology, stressing the dimensions of this approach that may appear problematic to naturalists. In section II, I present and discuss the naturalist project in its radical form, as personified by Quine, who questions not only the way in which traditional epistemology proceeds in order to attain its objectives, but also the validity of these objectives. The last two sections concentrate on more moderate versions of naturalism. Section III investigates the various possible roles that may be assigned to psychology in these moderate forms of naturalism and the ensuing
consequences vis-a-vis the problem of normativity. In section IV, I distinguish between two levels of normativity in epistemology, what I call the normativity of means and the normativity of ends and I discuss the prospects of a naturalization of epistemic ends.