Content Externalism and Quine’s Criterion are Incompatible

Erkenntnis 82 (3):625-639 (2017)
Authors
T. Parent
Virginia Tech
Abstract
Externalism holds that the content of our utterances and thoughts are determined partly by the environment. Here, I offer an argument which suggests that externalism is incompatible with a natural view about ontological commitment--namely, the Quinean view that such commitments are fixed by the range of the variables in your theory. The idea in brief is that if Oscar mistakenly believes that water = XYZ, the externalist ontologically commits Oscar to two waterish kinds, whereas the Quinean commits him to one such kind (albeit a metaphysically impossible kind). The penultimate section addresses a variety of objections to the argument.
Keywords Anti-individualism  Quine on ontology  Quantification  Impossibilia
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Reprint years 2017
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DOI 10.1007/s10670-016-9835-5
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