Skepticism, objectivity and the aspirations of immanence

Dialectica 52 (4):291-318 (1998)
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Quine's attitude toward external world skepticism remains, to this day, less than completely clear. As one might except, Quine seems to dismiss such concerns in most of his work as beneath refutation. But, occasionally Quine seems to adopt an alternative stance, a stance from which he aims to address the issue, not simply ignore it. This is particularly true of Quine's brief but pithy “Response to Stroud,” wherein he seeks to defend the adequacy of epistemology naturalized qua knowledge theory against Stroud's complaint that epistemology, so reconstituted, ignores perfectly intelligible reason for skeptical disquiet. Herein, I expand upon an interpretive suggestion of Dirk Koppelberg's upon which the skeptic's challenge is undermined by the incoherence of the notion of “transcendent” objectivity required for its formulation. After some motivational remarks I try to reconstruct a Quinean antiskeptical critique making use of Koppelberg's strategic suggestion. In then argue that this argument is fatally compromised by tensions internal to Quine's own system, tensions arising from the essential nature of Quine's realism. I close with some morals and conclusions.



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Ronald Wilburn
University of Calgary

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