Quine II: The Evolutionary-Perceptual Account



In this chapter, I reconstruct Quine’s attempts to accommodate the privacy of stimulus meaning in his naturalized epistemology. These attempts span three decades and equally many monographs as well as a number of articles. Furthermore, I delineate his final proposal to solve it, which relies on natural selection to guarantee a preestablished harmony of innate perceptual similarity standards, and I discuss the extent to which this final solution still agrees with the basic doctrines that Quine defended in the 1960s (and never explicitly retracted). Finally, I develop an internal critique of two central aspects of Quine’s mature account, one focused on his use of natural selection, the other on his conception of pleasure through approval.


Privacy of stimulus meaning Naturalized epistemology Natural selection Quine Empiricism Preestablished harmony 


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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