Clark Glymour on Epistemology
Several years ago, Clark Glymour was deploring the „mainstream-metaphysical-philosophy-of-mind” or „MMPM” in a delightful review of J. Kim’s Mind in a Physical World for being „walled off from any real use of (or for) mathematics or the sciences”, thus facing „the dragons in the labyrinth of metaphysics armed only with words and a vivid imagination”(go and read it! now!). Now he’s picking on epistemology—”principal stream epistemology”, as practised by McDowell et al.—in his contribution to Epistemology. 5 Questions (Automatic Press/VIP, edited by Vincent Hendricks and Duncan Pritchard) for pretty much the same reasons: delighting in ancient chestnut-cracking, oblivious to what science has been about lately, and where it’s headed.
For a taste of Glymour’s (early and late) approach to epistemology, have a look at this:
I was pretty sure I was on to the best thing in the world in Junior High School, walking Jane Trent home each day with my hand under her coat…This led in high school to another epistemological concern. When I was 16 or so I spent a lot of time thinking about specific cases of the problem of other minds: what do girls think, and in particular what did Rettie Jane, then the subject (or object, however that works) of my aspirations think when she said she was “washing her hair”? I had no clue. So many hypotheses, so little evidence. For a while I held the Butte high school record for most refused dates. It occurred to me that some problems are underdetermined and the best one can do is to make very general assumptions from which experience can then lead to discoveries, discoveries that will be true if the assumptions are. Knowledge is provisional, but some provisions are indispensable. That girls, and in particular, Rettie Jane, had perceptual experiences and beliefs and categories pretty much like mine seemed a necessary assumption if I were to have any real moral relations with them (I was interested mostly in immoral relations, but morally arrived at), that they shared everyday desires like mine, but maybe not my specific desires. This led to my recognition of the importance of causal premises in the assessment of hypotheses: discounting the boasts of some of my buddies, I considered the hypothesis that females as a general rule do not enjoy sex, but this seemed clearly refuted by the abundance of people on the planet. Which of course led immediately to the conclusion that the problem was my hair, but what alteration was needed–waterfall and duck-ass, or Peter Gunn brushcut? I digress.
And then go on and read the rest.
[Link via Certain Doubts]