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Meta-epistemology

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Meta-epistemology is a metaphilosophical study of the subject, matter, methods and aims of epistemology.

In epistemology, there are two basic meta-epistemological approaches: traditional "normative" epistemology, and naturalized epistemology.

Traditional epistemology has been concerned with "justification." According to the classical tripartite model of knowledge, some proposition p is knowledge if and only if 1) some agent X believes p, 2) p is true, and 3) X is justified in believing in p. The third justificatory condition is to be given in non-epistemic terms such as "is deducible from" or "is indubitable." Still, the condition is essentially normative, which makes knowledge itself essentially normative.

Since the time of Descartes, who 1) sought to establish the criteria by which true beliefs could be acquired, and 2) sought to determine those believes we are in fact justified in believing, the primary epistemological project has been the elucidation of the justificatory condition in the classic tripartite conception of knowledge (i.e. Justified True Belief).

Naturalized epistemology had its provenience in the twentieth century with W. V. Quine. Quine's proposal, which is commonly called "Replacement Naturalism," is to excise every trace of normativity from the epistemological body. Quine wanted to merge epistemology with empirical psychology such that every epistemological statement would be replaced by a psychological statement.

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