Author(s)Silvio Seno Chibeni
Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
DOAJ:Philosophy and Religion
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AbstractThis article aims to defend Locke against Quine’s charge, made in his famous “two dogmas” paper, that Locke’s theory of knowledge is badly flawed, not only for assuming the dogmas, but also for adopting an “in-tolerably restrictive” version of the dogma of reductionism. It is shown here that, in his analysis of the epistemological status of scientific laws, Locke has effectively transcended the narrow idea-empiricism which un-derlies this version of reductionism. First, in order to escape idealism, he introduced the notion of “sensitive knowledge of the particular existence of finite beings without us,” broadening thus his initial definition of knowledge in terms of the “perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas” — a definition compatible with Quine’s interpretation. Sec-ondly, after showing that we can have virtually no a priori knowledge of universal truths about substances, Locke extended the notion of “sensi-tive knowledge” to the particular propositions of “coexistence” in sub-stances, appealing to the notion of “probability” for treating their induc-tive generalizations and, in particular, the phenomenological laws of sci-ence. Finally, acknowledging the essential presence of hypothetical, non-phenomenological laws in science, he anticipated much of the contempo-rary views on their role and nature, including, remarkably, a mild ver-sion of the epistemological holism championed by Quine.