Human vs. Computer: Comparison of How the Truth of a Statement is Determined in the Framework of WVO Quine’s Holism

Human vs. Computer: Comparison of How the Truth of a Statement is Determined in the Framework of WVO Quine’s Holism

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I. Introduction
How do we know that a statement is true? There are at least two ways to interpret and, therefore, answer this question. On one hand, we can construe the question as asking “What justifies a belief that a statement is true?” On the other hand, we can construe it as “How (by what process) does one arrive at a belief that a statement is true?” An answer to the question construed in the first way will not depend on anything about us but would state the justification for believing that a statement is true for any creature. On the other hand, an answer to the question construed in the second way will be unique to the type of a creature having the belief, perhaps even, unique to each particular creature.
In establishing the truth of a statement, humans only have at their disposal the language and the experiences provided by their five senses. Therefore, if we expect to find the universal justification for believing that a statement is true, we assume that we can prove the truth given sense data and language, or show how the truth of every statement reduces to sense data and language. The second construal of the question, on another hand, is agnostic on any such assumptions. It simply asks to describe a process by which one arrives at a belief that a statement is true, whether justified or not.
WVO Quine’s essays “Two Dogmas of Empiricism” (henceforth, TDE) and “Epistemology Naturalized” (henceforth, NE) argue that the assumption motivating the first interpretation of the question is faulty: the truth of every statement does not reduce to sense data and language, and therefore, there is no universal justification for believing that a statement is true. I will refer to this argument as Holism Thesis. Instead,...


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Grice, P., Strawson, P., 1957. “In Defense of a Dogma,” Philosophical Review 65: 141-58.
Penrose, Roger, 1989. The Emperor's New Mind, Oxford University Press.
Prigogine, I., 1997. End of Certainty, The Free Press.
Quine, W.V.O., 1953. “Two Dogmas of Empiricism,” From a Logical Point of View. Harvard University Press.
Quine, W.V.O., 1969a. "Epistemology Naturalized," Ontological Relativity and Other Essays, New York: Columbia University Press: 69–90
Quine, W.V.O., 1969b. "Natural Kinds," Ontological Relativity and Other Essays, New York: Columbia University Press: 114-138
Quine, W.V.O., 1975. “The Nature of Natural Knowledge”, in Guttenplan, S., ed. Mind and Language, Oxford: Oxford University Press: 67–81
Simon, H., 1992. "The computer as a laboratory for epistemology," in L. Burkholder (Ed.), Philosophy and the Computer, Boulder, CO: Westview Press.


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