Am I being fair to Jaegwon Kim?
Jaegwon Kim's What is "Naturalized Epistemology?" is probably the most influential critique of Quine's Epistemology Naturalized. At this point, I'm trying to make sure that I understand Kim's arguments against naturalized epistemology. What follows is my precis of Kim's argument. I'm writing a defense of Quine against Kim, so I want to be absolutely sure that I'm giving the opposition a fair shake. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
Quine is advancing an alternative approach to epistemology. We can accept Quine’s critique of classical epistemology without endorsing his alternative program. We should only endorse his alternative program if we are satisfied that his approach is an alternative to epistemology, i.e., if we are confident that the Quinean program will give better answers to our epistemological questions.
1. Epistemology is supposed to be about knowledge
2. Knowledge is justified true belief
3. Justification is the distinctively epistemic feature of knowledge.
4. Justification is a normative concept. A belief has the property of being justified if it stands in the correct logical relationship to other beliefs held by a cognizer. Justified beliefs are those that we ought to accept and/or those that we would be epistemically irresponsible to deny. Justification has something to do with praise and blame.
5. Belief also has a normative dimension. Belief attribution requires belief evaluation. We cannot directly observe beliefs, we must attribute them through interpretation. We are forced to make certain normative assumptions about other people in order to recognize their behavior as evidence of a belief. For example, we cannot recognize a belief in a creature unless we assume that it is basically rational and responsive to evidence. We have no right to attribute a belief unless that belief strikes us as logically coherent and/or (in some sense) justified by evidence available to the subject.
6. Quine wants to overthrow the entire framework of justification-centered epistemology. We know this because he urges us to study the causal connection between sensory input and belief-formation in the human subject to the exclusion of the evidential/justificatory relationships between beliefs. Quine argues that it is better to watch and see how science is actually developed and learned than to attempt to rationally reconstruct science from first principles.
7. Quine is only interested in the development of theories. He wants epistemologists to study which inputs produce what beliefs. It is “none of the naturalized epistemologist’s business” whether sensory inputs justify belief outputs.
8. If epistemology rejects justification, then it can't be about knowledge. This might be a reason to dismiss any non-justification centered "epistemology" out of hand. However, the skeptics would have us believe that no one actually has knowledge anyway. If they’re right, an epistemology of belief might be the next best thing.
9. However, even the scientific study of belief requires minimal normative assumptions, i.e., we must presuppose certain basic kinds of justification in order to attribute beliefs to subjects.
10. Quine’s naturalized epistemology is supposed to be the scientific study of belief-formation. But if we repudiate normativity, we have no grounds to attribute beliefs. Therefore, a naturalized epistemology that repudiates normativity will fail on its own terms.
11. A putative naturalized epistemology that addresses neither belief nor knowledge is not worthy of the name “epistemology.” Therefore we should reject Quine’s proposal to naturalize epistemology.
Jaegwon Kim. What Is "Naturalized Epistemology?"Philosophical Perspectives, Vol. 2, Epistemology. (1988), pp. 381-405. [JSTOR]