Extension, Intension and Dormitive Virtue

Would be fairer to call Peirce’s philosophy of language “extensionalist” or “intensionalist”? The extensionalisms of Carnap and Quine are examined, and Peirce’s view is found to be prima facie similar, except for his commitment to the importance of “hypostatic abstraction”. Rather than dismissing this form of abstraction (famously derided by Molière) as useless scholasticism, Peirce argues that it represents a crucial (though largely unnoticed) step in much working inference. This, it is argued, allows Peirce to transcend the extensionalist-intensionalist dichotomy itself, through his unique triadic analysis of reference and meaning, by transcending the distinction between (as Quine put it) “things” and “attributes”.
Keywords Peirce  extension  intension  Quine  Carnap
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