An abstract of “Epistemological Vs. Causal Explanation in Quine, Or, Quine: Sic et Non”
This piece has a chequered history of non-publication. It was written in the early 1981 and was my “Abrechnung mit Quine”. I sent it to various quality journals who inevitably replied with embarrassment that while one reviewer loved the piece and its “emperor’s got no clothes” message, the other referees was aghast that one could accuse a great philosopher of such a huge mistake – that of confusing the causal and the justificatory order. I like to tell my students that the difference between an ordinary philosopher, such as myself, and the great philosopher, such as Kant, is that I make boring and unimportant mistakes whereas Kant makes really important ones. I think Quine’s mistake is nearer the lofty Kant mark than the lowly Gemes one. I admit the piece has a certain undergraduate tone to it, but the basic message still seems right: Quines so-called “epistemology naturalized” is not answering any epistemic questions at all but merely gives a causal account of the aetiology of belief. At the back of the piece is a, perhaps too random, collection of questions with quotations from Quine showing that he seems to give contradictory answers.