Quine on Opacity in Modal and Doxastic Contexts

Dissertation, The University of British Columbia (Canada) (1995)

Quine has been mainly opposed to sentences that feature cross-quantification. This is, he is critical of sentences that involve quantifying into a context that Quine labels 'opaque'. Quine's opposition to cross-quantification grew out of an earlier attack on the notion of combining quantification theory and modal logic. Quine initially dismissed, in 1943, cases of quantifying into modal contexts as meaningless. Later in the same year, Alonzo Church argued that there was a meaningful way to quantify into modal contexts, thus vindicating the notion that quantification theory could be merged with modal logic. ;In 1956, in "Quantifiers and Propositional Attitudes," Quine pointed out that quantification into belief contexts, though indispensable, also features the improper quantification into opaque contexts. In the same paper, Quine introduced the distinction between a relational and a notional sense of propositional attitude ascriptions. The former sense concerns the problematic sentences that feature cross-quantification. In the thesis that follows, I appropriate Quine's terminology and critically evaluate his reasons for rejecting the relational idiom in both modal and doxastic contexts. Such an evaluation reveals some startling results in the philosophy of language. ;One of the major problems that Quine sought to address was that of reconciling the evident significance of instances of the relational idiom with their many alleged difficulties. Quine restricted himself to acknowledging the idiom's meaningfulness in doxastic contexts. ;Most of Quine's criticisms of the relational idiom are argued by me to be unsound. It is contended that some of Quine's criticisms involve the improper exploitation of ambiguities inherent in such sentences. This fallacy is exposed and subjected to a critical evaluation. The exposure of this fallacy, which I term 'the relational fallacy' is a novel contribution to the philosophy of language. Another novel contribution to the philosophy of language is my critique of Quine's use of semantic ascent to account for intuitively meaningful relational modal sentences. A third, slightly less novel, contribution to the philosophy of language involves extending Quine's temporary view that there are meaningful relational sentences in doxastic contents to the analogous observation that there are meaningful relational sentences in modal contexts
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