Holistic similarities between Quine and Wittgenstein

Philosophical Investigations 47 (1):53-75 (2024)
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W.V. Quine and Ludwig Wittgenstein have been compared with regard to the analytic/synthetic distinction, propositions known a priori or a posteriori, mathematical and logical necessity and naturalism, amongst other topics. Following Pieranna Garavaso and Danièle Moyal‐Sharrock, I compare how Quine and Wittgenstein conceptualize a system of beliefs. Overlooked is Wittgenstein's description of the role of propositions and Quine's description of the location of propositions. The difference between the role and location signals a difference in how these frameworks conceptualize the boundary between empirical and logical propositions, and in particular the justificatory status of propositions in the system. The Wittgensteinian framework accommodates a change in the justificatory status of propositions: propositions can play at one time a rule‐like role and at another time an empirical role. For Quine, change in status refers to revising the proposition (or not) in the light of recalcitrant evidence.



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Rena Beatrice Goldstein
University of California, Irvine

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