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Document Details :
Title: Naturalised Epistemology and the Quinean-Chomskyan Debate Revisited
Author(s): KARUVELIL, Benny
Journal: Tijdschrift voor Filosofie
Volume: 71 Issue: 4 Date: 2009
In this article I argue that although both Quine and Chomsky present their epistemological discussions in their respective empiricist–rationalist modes, the differences in their views do not necessarily arise from their divergent philosophical traditions, but rather from their conflicting views on language, which they both consider as the paradigm of knowledge. From this perspective, their epistemological positions become incompatible because Quine considers language to be the publicly observable disposition to verbal behaviour and a produced linguistic corpus as a sufficient data for linguistic analysis. Chomsky, on the other hand, considers language as a second order capacity, a part of the human mind/brain that enables the speaker or hearer to produce the enormous linguistic corpus. It is this difference in their views on what language is that prompts them to adopt their traditional empiricist or rationalist positions, and not, as many think, the other way around. I elaborate these positions within the context of the naturalisation demands initiated by Quine, but which have been obscured by an externalism–internalism controversy. Furthermore, I hope to show that naturalisation of philosophy does not necessarily entail a behaviouristic–externalism, as Quine insists.