Naturalizing Epistemology
Kornblith (Hilary)
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Cover Blurb

  1. The second edition of Naturalizing Epistemology has been updated and expanded to include seven new articles that take up on-going debates in the field. As with the first edition, it explores the interaction between psychology and epistemology and addresses empirical questions about how we should arrive at our beliefs and whether the processes by which we arrive at our beliefs are the ones by which we ought to arrive at our beliefs.
  2. The new material includes a critical examination of Quine's views on epistemology by Jaegwon Kim and an interesting psychological approach to our understanding of natural kinds1 by Ellen Markman. In other new chapters, Jerry Fodor places the notion of observation in a naturalistic perspective, Christopher Cherniak shows how work in the theory of computational complexity bears on the form of an epistemological theory, and Alvin Goldman looks at the relationship between our ordinary epistemological concepts and those of a scientific epistemology.
  3. The prospects for improving our inductive inferences are examined by John Holland, Keith Holyoak, Richard Nisbett, and Paul Thagard, and Stephen Stich suggests a way in which normative concepts may be integrated into a naturalistic epistemology. The book retains articles by W. V. 0. Quine, Hilary Kornblith, Philip Kitcher, Michael Friedman, Fred Dretske, Richard Nisbett and Lee Ross, and Gilbert Harman. There is an extensive bibliography organized by subject.
  4. Hilary Kornblith is Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Vermont.
Preface to the Second Edition
  1. Much has happened in the field of epistemology since the first edition of this volume appeared in 1985. Choosing a selection of papers for the first edition was relatively easy; making the choices for the second edition was much more difficult. I have been faced with an embarrassment of riches. If the size and price of this volume were not constraints, it would have been substantially larger and more wide-ranging. While I find operating under real-world constraints congenial to epistemological theorizing, such constraints on editorial practice are far less to my liking. For reasons of space and thematic unity, I have had to leave out pieces I judged to be excellent, in spite of the fact that the collection would have been richer were they included. Such decisions were never pleasant. I am especially sorry that I had to delete some chapters that appeared in the first edition, and that I was unable to include Philip Kitcher's paper "The Naturalists Return" because of its size2. Anyone who is interested in naturalistic epistemology would profit from adding this work of Kitcher's to their reading list.
  2. I have also been faced with the question of what to do with my introduction to the first edition. Many people have commented that this introduction was helpful to them and that it offered a useful perspective on the field. I have therefore resisted the temptation to redo the introduction completely, and have instead left it largely as it was, with only minor additions to reflect the new table of contents. This has the added benefit that those who found my perspective on the field misguided in some way will not be presented with a moving target.
  3. I have adopted an unusual system of citation for this volume as a result of the structure of the bibliography. As with the first edition, the bibliography for this edition is divided thematically. While this proved exceptionally useful for certain purposes, it made it extremely time consuming to look up sources that were cited by author and year of publication: each section of the bibliography had to be examined until the relevant entry was located. In order to address this problem, citations now include not only author and year of publication but a number indicating location in the bibliography as well. Thus, the Kitcher article mentioned above is cited as Kitcher 1992 [217]. This indicates that the article was published in 1992 and appears as item number 217 in the bibliography. This will, I hope, make the volume easier to use, even if it does result in a rather baroque system of citation.
  4. I have received a good deal of help in putting together this second edition. Constructive comments and suggestions were provided by Alvin Goldman, Gilbert Harman, James Maffie, and Stephen Stich. Fred Schmitt, who suggested in the early 1980s that I put this collection together, has done a wonderful job of updating his bibliography, this time with the aid of James Spellman. The idea for a second edition is due to Betty Stanton of Bradford Books, and I am grateful to Teri Mendelsohn for her help in every phase of production. Leslie Weiger has been exceptionally helpful in preparing the manuscript.

In-Page Footnotes ("Kornblith (Hilary) - Naturalizing Epistemology")

Footnote 2: See "Kitcher (Philip) - The Naturalists Return".

"Cherniak (Christopher) - Computational Complexity and the Universal Acceptance of Logic"

Source: Kornblith - Naturalizing Epistemology

Philosophers Index Abstract
    (1) Acceptance of a deductive logic is not required for an agent's rationality. (2) Using a sound or complete logic may even be inadvisable. (3) Use of such logic seems sometimes entirely incompatible with rationality, because of computational complexity constraints; it entails intractable processes, hence computational paralysis. The discussion identifies relationships between more realistic rationality models in philosophy, computational complexity theory, and recent psychological studies of the formal incorrectness of everyday "quick but dirty" reasoning heuristics.

"Dretske (Fred) - Precis of Knowledge and the Flow of Information"

Source: Kornblith - Naturalizing Epistemology

COMMENT: This is a useful precis of "Dretske (Fred) - Knowledge and the Flow of Information".

"Fodor (Jerry) - The Dogma that Didn't Bark (A Fragment of a Naturalized Epistemology)"

Source: Kornblith - Naturalizing Epistemology

COMMENT: Cf. Quine's Two Dogmas

"Friedman (Michael) - Truth and Confirmation"

Source: Kornblith - Naturalizing Epistemology

Philosophers Index Abstract
    Suppose one tries to justify scientific method by establishing a connection between confirmation and truth: arguing that theories that are well-confirmed tend (in some sense) to be true. What constraints would such a procedure--if in fact it could be carried out--put on confirmation theory, on the one hand, and semantics or the theory of truth, on the other. I first argue that confirmation theory must itself be an empirical science: it must appeal to the probability of reaching true conclusions in the actual world. This is of course circular, but not necessarily viciously so. Second, I argue that semantics must go beyond the tarskian or purely disquotational framework: it must contain something like a causal theory of reference. Thus, a non-trivial naturalistic justification of inductive inference requires a non-trivial naturalistic semantics.

"Goldman (Alvin) - Epistemic Folkways and Scientific Epistemology"

Source: Goldman - Readings in Philosophy and Cognitive Science

Final Paragraph
    The present version of the virtues theory appears to be a successful variant of reliabilism, capable of accounting for most, if not all, of the most prominent counterexamples to earlier variants of reliabilism. The present approach also makes an innovation in naturalistic epistemology. Whereas earlier naturalistic epistemologists have focused exclusively on the psychology of the epistemic agent, the present paper also highlights the psychology of the epistemic evaluator.


"Goldman (Alvin) - What Is Justified Belief"

Source: Sosa & Kim - Epistemology - An Anthology

Philosophers Index Abstract
    A theory of justified belief should be one that specifies the substantive, or non-epistemic, conditions that qualify a belief as justified. Examination of classical attempts to specify non-epistemic conditions of justifiedness shows that none of these succeeds. Appropriate conditions for justifiedness must cite the psychological processes that produce the belief. So this paper advances the theory of "historical reliabilism", the theory that beliefs are justified just in case they are caused by a history of reliable cognitive processes. This approach is contrasted with traditional, cartesian approaches.


"Harman (Gilbert) - Positive versus Negative Undermining in Belief Revision"

Source: Kornblith - Naturalizing Epistemology

Philosophers Index Abstract
    Should one abandon any belief for which one does not have adequate justification (negative undermining)? unhappily, people do not usually keep track of their reasons, so a principle of negative undermining would imply one should abandon almost all one's beliefs. Furthermore, it is impossible to keep track of many of one's justifications, given the large amounts of evidence one must process on a minute by minute basis. So, it seems one must use a principle of positive undermining, rather than a principle of negative undermining, abandoning a belief only if one has a positive reason to think one's reasons for the belief are no good.

"Holland (John H.), Holyoak (Keith J.), Nisbett (Richard E.) & Thagard (Paul R.) - Deductive Reasoning"

Source: Kornblith - Naturalizing Epistemology

COMMENT: "Deductive Reasoning" in "Goldman (Alvin), Ed. - Readings in Philosophy and Cognitive Science" is a subset of this extract from Induction: Process of Inference, Learning, and Discovery

"Kim (Jaegwon) - What is 'Naturalised Epistemology'?"

Source: Kim - Supervenience and Mind


"Kitcher (Philip) - A Priori Knowledge"

Source: Kornblith - Naturalizing Epistemology

Philosophers Index Abstract
    Kant characterized "a priori" knowledge as knowledge which is independent of experience. I aim to show how one can embed this conception of "a priori" knowledge within a naturalistic epistemology. The resulting analysis indicates how certain kinds of self-knowledge may be "a priori" and it enables the reformulation of traditional disputes about the scope of the "a priori".

"Kornblith (Hilary) - Beyond Foundationalism and the Coherence Theory"

Source: Kornblith - Naturalizing Epistemology

Philosophers Index Abstract
    It is argued that foundationalism and the coherence theory rest on a common false presupposition, that the proper approach to epistemological questions is apsychological. An outline of an explicitly psychological theory of justification is presented which reconciles important insights of both foundationalists and coherence theorists. Some of the details of this outline are then filled in via a reliabilist account of justification.

"Kornblith (Hilary) - Introduction: What Is Naturalistic Epistemology?"

Source: Kornblith - Naturalizing Epistemology

"Markman (Ellen) - Natural Kinds"

Source: Kornblith - Naturalizing Epistemology

"Nisbett (Richard) & Ross (Lee) - Judgmental Heuristics and Knowledge Structures"

Source: Kornblith - Naturalizing Epistemology

"Quine (W.V.) - Epistemology Naturalized"

Source: Quine - Ontological Relativity

Author’s Introduction
  1. Epistemology is concerned with the foundations of science. Conceived thus broadly, epistemology includes the study of the foundations of mathematics as one of its departments. Specialists at the turn of the century thought that their efforts in this particular department were achieving notable success: mathematics seemed to reduce altogether to logic. In a more recent perspective this reduction is seen to be better describable as a reduction to logic and set theory. This correction is a disappointment epistemologically, since the firmness and obviousness that we associate with logic cannot be claimed for set theory. But still the success achieved in the foundations of mathematics remains exemplary by comparative standards, and we can illuminate the rest of epistemology somewhat by drawing parallels to this department.
  2. Studies in the foundations of mathematics divide symmetrically into two sorts, conceptual and doctrinal. The conceptual studies are concerned with meaning, the doctrinal with truth. The conceptual studies are concerned with clarifying concepts by defining them, some in terms of others. The doctrinal studies are concerned with establishing laws by proving them, some on the basis of others. Ideally the obscurer concepts would be defined in terms of the clearer ones so as to maximize clarity, and the less obvious laws would be proved from the more obvious ones so as to maximize certainty. Ideally the definitions would generate all the concepts from clear and distinct ideas, and the proofs would generate all the theorems from self-evident truths.
  3. The two ideals are linked. For, if you define all the concepts by use of some favored subset of them, you thereby show how to translate all theorems into these favored terms. The clearer these terms are, the likelier it is that the truths couched in them will be obviously true, or derivable from obvious truths. If in particular the concepts of mathematics were all reducible to the clear terms of logic, then all the truths of mathematics would go over into truths of logic; and surely the truths of logic are all obvious or at least potentially obvious, i.e., derivable from obvious truths by individually obvious steps.
  4. This particular outcome is in fact denied us, however, since mathematics reduces only to set theory and not to logic proper. Such reduction still enhances clarity, but only because of the interrelations that emerge and not because the end terms of the analysis are clearer than others. As for the end truths, the axioms of set theory, these have less obviousness and certainty to recommend them than do most of the mathematical theorems that we would derive from them. Moreover, we know from Gödel’s work that no consistent axiom system can cover mathematics even when we renounce self-evidence. Reduction in the foundations of mathematics remains mathematically and philosophically fascinating, but it does not do what the epistemologist would like of it: it does not reveal the ground of mathematical knowledge, it does not show how mathematical certainty is possible.

COMMENT: Also in

"Quine (W.V.) - Natural Kinds"

Source: Quine - Ontological Relativity

Author’s Introduction
  1. What tends to confirm an induction? This question has been aggravated on the one hand by Hempel's puzzle of the non-black non-ravens1 and exacerbated on the other by Goodman's puzzle of the grue emeralds2. I shall begin my remarks by relating the one puzzle to the other, and the other to an innate flair that we have for natural kinds3. Then I shall devote the rest of the paper to reflections on the nature of this notion of natural kinds4 and its relation to science.
  2. Hempel's puzzle is that just as each black raven tends to confirm the law that all ravens are black, so each green leaf, being a non-black non-raven, should tend to confirm the law that all non-black things are non-ravens, that is, again, that all ravens are black. What is paradoxical is that a green leaf should count toward the law that all ravens are black.
  3. Goodman propounds his puzzle by requiring us to imagine that emeralds, having been identified by some criterion other than color, are now being examined one after another and all up to now are found to be green. Then he proposes to call anything grue that is examined today or earlier and found to be green or is not examined before tomorrow and is blue. Should we expect the first one examined tomorrow to be green, because all examined up to now were green? But all examined up to now were also grue; so why not expect the first one tomorrow to be grue, and therefore blue?
  4. The predicate "green," Goodman says5, is projectible; "grue" is not. He says this by way of putting a name to the problem. His step toward solution is his doctrine of what he calls entrenchment6, which I shall touch on later. Meanwhile the terminological point is simply that projectible predicates are predicates p and q whose shared instances all do count, for whatever reason, toward confirmation of [All p are q].
  5. Now I propose assimilating Hempel's puzzle to Goodman's by inferring from Hempel's that the complement of a projectible predicate need not be projectible. "Raven" and "black" are projectible; a black raven does count toward "All ravens are black." Hence a black raven counts also, indirectly, toward "All non-black things are non-ravens," since this says the same thing. But a green leaf does not count toward "All non-black things are non-ravens," nor, therefore, toward "All ravens are black"; "non-black" and "non-raven" are not projectible. "Green" and "leaf" are projectible, and the green leaf counts toward "All leaves are green" and "All green things are leaves"; but only a black raven can confirm "All ravens are black," the complements not being projectible.


In-Page Footnotes ("Quine (W.V.) - Natural Kinds")

Footnote 1: See "Hempel (Carl) - Studies in the Logic of Explanation (inc. Postscript, 1964)", p. 15.

Footnote 2: See "Goodman (Nelson) - The New Riddle of Induction", p. 74.

Footnote 5: See "Goodman (Nelson) - The New Riddle of Induction", p. 82f.

Footnote 6: See "Goodman (Nelson) - The New Riddle of Induction", p. 95ff.

"Stich (Stephen) - A Pragmatic Account of Cognitive Evaluation"

Source: Kornblith - Naturalizing Epistemology

"Stich (Stephen) - Could Man Be an Irrational Animal? Some Notes on the Epistemology of Rationality"

Source: Kornblith - Naturalizing Epistemology

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