Quine’s Pragmatic Solution to Sceptical Doubts

International Journal of Philosophical Studies 18 (2):177-204 (2010)
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In this paper I examine a series of criticisms that have been levelled against Quine's naturalized epistemology, regarding its response to the problem of scepticism. Barry Stroud and Michael Williams, assuming that Quine wishes to refute scepticism, argue that Quine not only fails to undertake this refutation, but is also committed to theses (such as the inscrutability of reference and the underdetermination of theory by evidence) which imply versions of scepticism of their own. In Quine's defence, Roger Gibson argues that Quine can succeed in showing sceptical doubts to be incoherent. But I contend that both parties of this dispute wrongly assume that Quine wishes to defeat the sceptic in a traditional way. Instead, Quine is happy to 'acquiesce' in scepticism about a certain kind of justification. No logical justification of our scientific beliefs is possible on his view. But Quine thinks that pragmatic justification is possible, and acknowledging that this is his view leads to the resolution of a number of interpretive quandaries



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Benjamin Bayer
Loyola University, New Orleans

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References found in this work

Word and Object.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1960 - Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
Ontological relativity and other essays.Willard Van Orman Quine (ed.) - 1969 - New York: Columbia University Press.
Two Dogmas of Empiricism.W. Quine - 1951 - [Longmans, Green].
From a Logical Point of View.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1953 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

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