Volume 13, Issue 2, Autumn 2008
Naturalized Epistemology and the Normative
Gradually emerging from the so-called 'linguistic turn', philosophy in the second half of the twentieth century witnessed what we might follow P. M. S. Hacker in describing as a 'naturalistic turn'. This change of direction, an abandonment of traditional philosophical methods in favour of a scientific approach, or critics would say a scientistic approach, has met with widespread approval. In the first part of the paper I look to establish the centrality of the normative to the discipline of epistemology. I then turn to examine Quine's attempt to reduce normative discourse to instrumental rationality, and the more fully developed accounts provided by Stich, Kombiith and Papineau. I argue that these accounts fail because they insist on a constitutive connection between desires and the ends of epistemic activity. I conclude with the suggestion that a more plausible position severs this connection, in favour of an objective, externalist account of ends and reasons.