Précis of Quine, Conceptual Pragmatism, and the Analytic-Synthetic Distinction

Asian Journal of Philosophy 2 (2):1-7 (2023)
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Quine’s references to his “pragmatism” have often been seen as indicating a possible link to the American pragmatism of Peirce, James, and Dewey. In Quine, Conceptual Pragmatism, and the Analytic-Synthetic Distinction, I argue that the influence of pragmatism on Quine’s philosophy is more accurately traced to C.I. Lewis’s conceptual pragmatism. Quine’s epistemology shares many affinities with Lewis’s view, which depicts knowledge as a conceptual system pragmatically revised in light of future experience. This claim is defended through an examination of several key episodes in Quine’s philosophical development, including his graduate work for Lewis, critical transition in the 1940s, midcentury criticisms of analyticity, and later turn to naturalized epistemology. This historical account highlights an underappreciated element of the epistemological background to Quine’s criticism of the analytic–synthetic distinction. It is further argued that Lewis’s view provides the central epistemological framework for understanding the form and content of Quine’s later naturalized epistemology.



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Robert Sinclair
Soka University

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References found in this work

Pursuit of Truth.W. V. O. Quine - 1990 - Philosophy 65 (253):384-385.
Quine against Lewis (and Carnap) on Truth by Convention.Sean Morris - 2017 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 99 (3):366-391.
Mind and the World-order. By G. W. Cunningham. [REVIEW]C. I. Lewis - 1929 - International Journal of Ethics 40:550.

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