Volume 45, Issue 4, Winter 2007
How Not to Refute Quine
Evaluating Kim’s Alternatives to Naturalized Epistemology
This paper offers an interpretation of Quine’s naturalized epistemology through the lens of Jaegwon Kim’s influential critique of the same. Kim argues that Quine forces a false choice between traditional deductivist foundationalism and naturalized epistemology and contends that there are viable alternative epistemological projects. However it is suggested that Quine would reject these alternatives by reference to the same fundamental principles (underdetermination, indeterminacy of translation, extensionalism) that led him to reject traditional epistemology and propose naturalism as an alternative. Given this interpretation of Quine, it is essential that a successful critic of naturalism also examine Quine’s aforementioned principles. The divide between naturalist and nonnaturalist epistemology turns out to be defined by the divide between more fundamental naturalist and nonnaturalist approaches to semantics.