Author Information

Joseph Spencer


Ever since Descartes began his search for certainty in philosophy, many of the great philosophers have taken up this quest. One solution, proposed by W.V.O. Quine in his 1969 essay, Naturalized Epistemology, claims that we must refrain from studying epistemology in philosophy. Quine claims that our study of knowledge must only occur in the field of psychology and that we should refrain from talking about these issues in philosophy. As one can imagine, Quine’s essay was met with much criticism and anger among philosophers. Most notably, Hilary Putnam provides a devastating critique of naturalized epistemology in his essay, Why Reason Can’t be Naturalized. In this paper, I present both men’s views, and argue that Putnam’s response, while not perfect, does demolish the bases for Quine’s arguments about knowledge.

Note on the Author

Joseph Spencer is a senior philosophy major from Taunton, MA. He first worked on this research as part of Dr. Catherine Womack’s “Knowledge and Truth” class in Spring of 2009. Joseph will be presenting his research at Pacific University’s 2010 Undergraduate Philosophy conference.

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