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Norms, Naturalism and Epistemology

The Case for Science Without Norms

Norms, Naturalism and Epistemology by Jonathan Knowles
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Naturalism is winning ever-increasing popularity in philosophy. In this book, concerning epistemology, the author seeks to argue that naturalism brings with it certain costs in the form of limitations on our philosophical ambitions. On the conception of naturalism defended, there are and can be no a priori norms for guiding our belief-formation: we must start our inquiries in situ, assuming some beliefs and the general reliability of our basic cognitive practices to justify others. Naturalised epistemology seeks to build on, but also go beyond naturalism: to motivate and justify specifiable epistemic norms using naturalistic material. The author argues that, whilst naturalism must be embraced, this more ambitious project is in vain. A systematic taxonomy of the possible varieties of naturalised epistemology is presented, followed by critique of each in turn. The underlying theme of the discussion is that to the extent one can genuinely justify naturalistic norms, they are not needed for optimal rational belief-formation.
Palgrave Macmillan; November 2003
191 pages; ISBN 9780230511262
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Title: Norms, Naturalism and Epistemology
Author: Jonathan Knowles
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