Lorenzo Peña

Review of ROGER F. GIBSON, Jr., Enlightened Empiricism: An Examination of W.V. Quine's Theory of Knowledge. THEORIA, Nº 12-13 (San Sebastián, 1990), pp. 300-02. ISSN 0495-4548

According Gibson, Quine's world-view is a naturalistic behaviourism, a conception which rejects anything beyond the pale of what is somehow or other reducible to physics, especially any transcendental justification, any intentions or irreducibly mental entities. The additional key to Gibson's interpretation is a crisp dichotomy of the ontological and the epistemological stand-points.

This interpretation makes too much of Quine's scientism. Quine himself has advised us to refrain from reading too much into his emphasis on science. As Quine talks about it, science is the whole of our theories about the world, whether or not such theories comply with the rules accepted in research communities as criteria on scientificalness.

Gibson's campaign against 1st philosophy leads him to overlook any rational reconstruction to any degree. New, the existence of degrees is what gives rise to another defect of Gibson's account. Not that Gibson fails to notice, or quote, many of Quine's remarks emphasizing degrees -- degrees of observationality, of change, of similarity, of there-being-a-fact-of-the-matter-that, of certainty, of vulnerability to experience, of pleasantness, of noticing, and so on. Still, Gibson fails to draw some important conclusions from Quine's gradualism.

Despite a number of criticisms, the book deserves fulsome praise above all.