Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 35 (2):167-190 (2021)

Dirk Greimann
Universidade Federal Fluminense
In his late philosophy, Quine generalized the structuralist view in the philosophy of mathematics that mathematical theories are indifferent to the ontology we choose for them. According to his ‘global structuralism’, the choice of objects does not matter to any scientific theory. In the literature, this doctrine is mainly understood as an epistemological thesis claiming that the empirical evidence for a theory does not depend on the choice of its objects. The present paper proposes a new interpretation suggested by Quine’s recently published Kant Lectures from 1980 according to which his global structuralism is a semantic thesis that belongs to his theory of ontological reduction. It claims that a theory can always be reformulated in such a way that its truth does not presuppose the existence of the original objects, but only of some objects that can be considered as their proxies. Quine derives this claim from the principle of the semantic primacy of sentences, which is supposed to license the ontological reductions he uses to establish his global structuralism. It is argued that these reductions do not actually work because they do not account for some hidden ontological commitments that are not detected by his criterion of ontological commitment.
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DOI 10.1515/krt-2021-0014
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References found in this work BETA

From a Logical Point of View.W. V. O. Quine - 1953 - Harvard University Press.
On Denoting.Bertrand Russell - 1905 - Mind 14 (56):479-493.
Word and Object.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1960 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 17 (2):278-279.
Ontological Relativity.W. V. Quine - 1968 - Journal of Philosophy 65 (7):185-212.

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