Volume 53, 2008
Theory of Knowledge
Naturalistic Epistemology, Normativity, and Self
In this paper, I criticize naturalized epistemology. To this end, I critically examine several versions of naturalistic epistemology (Quine, Kornblith, and Plantinga). While Quine’s epistemology eschews any kind of normativity not invoked in science, Kornblith’s and Plantinga’s views attempt to explain normativity in the light of descriptivity. I provide an argument against them. The upshot of my argument is that since we are self-conscious beings, we have reflective ability to see what we ought to believe. In other words, the fact that we are self-conscious beings requires us to find reason for our belief. I argue that naturalistic epistemology cannot capture that idea, since it is only concerned with third-person, impersonal approach. It simply shifts our thinking about justification from a subjective or first-person perspective to an objective or third-person perspective. Therefore, naturalistic epistemology, even if it is a weak version, is untenable in that it simply ignores human consciousness and its role in justification of beliefs.