Journal for General Philosophy of Science

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 251–267

Normativity in Quine's Naturalism: The Technology of Truth-Seeking?

  • Wybo Houkes

DOI: 10.1023/A:1022460619303

Cite this article as:
Houkes, W. Journal for General Philosophy of Science (2002) 33: 251. doi:10.1023/A:1022460619303


In this paper, I review Quine's response to the normativity charge against naturalized epistemology. On this charge, Quine's naturalized epistemology neglects the essential normativity of the traditional theory of knowledge and hence cannot count as its successor. According to Quine, normativity is retained in naturalism as ‘the technology of truth-seeking’. I first disambiguate Quine's naturalism into three programs of increasing strength and clarify the strongest program by means of the so-called Epistemic Skinner Box. Then, I investigate two ways in which the appeal to technology as normative enterprise can be made good. I argue that neither coheres with other aspects of Quine's philosophy, most notably the elimination of intentionality. Finally, I briefly consider a third reconstruction of the response, which involves an extension of the web of “belief” to practical know-how. I conclude that the normativity of Quine's (strong) naturalism cannot be found in the technology of truth-seeking.


Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wybo Houkes
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyEindhoven University of TechnologyEindhovenThe Netherlands