PHIL 350A:  Study Questions for Week #8


1.  According to Quine traditional epistemology has two elements, the conceptual and the doctrinal.  What are these two elements?


2.  What does Quine mean by:  "[E]pistemology in its new setting is contained in natural science, as a chapter of psychology."(Pojman, p. 186)


3.  What is psychologism in epistemology?  BonJour identifies three roles for psychology in epistemology that are unobjectionable.  He refers to them as minimal psychologism, conceptual psychologism, and the meliorative epistemological project.  Explain each.  Why would BonJour regard the use of psychology to reply to a skeptic as question-begging?  How might the naturalistic epistemologist reply to this objection?


4.  Is Quine's naturalized epistemology purely descriptive?  What is the normative element?  Does Quine have a conception of good evidence or good reasons for belief?


5.  What is the metaphor of Neurath's raft?  Why does it apply to Quine's epistemology?  Is Quine a coherentist about justification? 


6.  What is Quine's evolutionary defense of induction?  What is the Garcia experiment that Pojman cites as casting doubt on this defense?  Does it?  Explain.


7.  What is the difference between a false negative and a false positive?  Why is it important in evolutionary explanations of belief?


8.  Pojman says "The laws of logic seem to survive revision."(194)  What examples have we given from class that conflict with this claim?


9.  Quine regards skepticism as "an offshoot of science"?   What does he mean by this?


10.  BonJour argues that naturalized epistemology can say nothing to distinguish science from occult beliefs such as astrology.  Is this true?  How would Quine reply?  How would a reliabilist reply? 


11.  BonJour identifies two main elements of naturalized epistemology:  (1) the rejection of "apsychologistic epistemology" and (2) the rejection of any sort of a priori justification.  Which one does he think is the main issue between the Cartesian epistemologist and the naturalistic epistemologist?


12.  What is radical empiricism?  What is BonJour's main objection to it? 


13.  BonJour claims that if naturalized epistemology includes arguments for its positions, it is self-referentially inconsistent.  What does this mean?  His argument is based on his earlier argument in chapter 5 that crucially involved the status of the following proposition:  If O, then NO (or:  If O, then NO is likely to be true).  Review that argument and make sure you can explain it. When we discussed BonJour’s argument in chapter 5 earlier in the course, we also discussed how Nozick would reply to it.  You should be able to explain Nozick’s reply.


14.  What does BonJour mean when he says that the naturalized epistemologist uses reasoning while denying the possibility of "the only sort of non-question-begging justification that such reasoning could have"?  Why is the naturalist's defense of reliable forms of reasoning question-begging to BonJour?  How might the naturalist reply to the charge of begging the question?