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3 Naturalised versus Normative Epistemology: An Aristotelian Alternative

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Chapter Summary

A standard way of describing the core of modern epistemology and philosophy of science is to refer to Descartes and his attempt to find an indubitable basis for science and knowledge through the method of doubt. The important point is that the debate about naturalism in epistemology in the 20th century has brought the question of normative and descriptive aspects of epistemology into focus. The author considers Aristotle's theory of knowledge and asks what role normative and descriptive considerations play in his theory. From the Aristotelian perspective, considerations concerning various kinds of knowledge and the human cognitive mechanisms are both descriptive and normative, but the relation between the two is understood very differently from the modern, Cartesian-based epistemology. Even though Aristotle's discussion contains some elements that resemble the topics discussed in the Theaetetus, for example the regress argument his approach is rather different.

Keywords: Aristotle's theory; Cartesian-based epistemology; human cognitive mechanisms; modern epistemology; naturalism; normative; Theaetetus



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