Epistemic Disjunctivism: A New Story about a Familiar Picture
The primary aim of this thesis is to evaluate the position known as ‘epistemic disjunctivism’ and its relation to the traditional epistemological framework it is meant to replace. In particular, this will involve the investigation of the points at which John McDowell takes disjunctivism to conflict with traditional empiricist approaches to epistemology with an eye to whether or not any substantive conflicts necessarily arise between these two positions. In the course of this thesis, I shall explain the disjunctivist position, directly address McDowell’s arguments to the effect that traditional empiricism is in need of replacement by disjunctivism, and then draw my conclusions in light of the earlier discussion. In the course of arguing against the traditional approach, McDowell considers two positions which he takes to characterize empiricist accounts of epistemology. He calls these positions the ‘highest common factor’ conception and the ‘hybrid’ view, and argues that they are not only insufficient for a satisfying epistemological account, but undermine the possibility of any account constructed upon them to be satisfactory. These positions are both fundamentally motivated by familiar sceptical arguments and seem to lie at the heart of empiricism. As we shall see, however, should both of these characteristically empiricist positions be interpreted charitably, they need not conflict with disjunctivism, or at least not as McDowell defines it. Indeed, it would seem that the only direct conflicts between the two accounts in question are ultimately semantic, and that the epistemic stories told by the empiricist and the disjunctivist are fundamentally compatible.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/24936
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