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Neurath’s Boat Will Take You Where You Want to Go: On Naturalized Epistemology and Historicism

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Abstract Naturalized epistemology is not a recent invention, nor is it a philosophical invention. Rather, it is a cognitive phenomena that is pervasive and desirable in the way of human epistemic engagement with their world. It is a matter of the way that one’s cognitive processes can be modulated by information gotten from those same or wider cognitive processes. Such modulational control enhances the reliability of one’s cognitive processes in many ways – and judgments about objective epistemic justification consistently evince a reasonable demand for it. However, with suitable modulational control in place within an agent or a community of agents, the fitting cognitive processes take time to generate information that then engenders changes in processes and norms. Further, as there are significant historical and biographical contingencies involving trajectories through one’s environment, there are contingencies in the information and modifications that will be engendered by suitable modulational control. As a result, what makes for objectively justified belief at a time will vary – as the fruits of suitable modulational control accrue over time. This is a moderate form of historicism about epistemic justification.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Philosophy, University of Nebraska-Lincoln USA


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