Authors
Peter Hylton
University of Illinois, Chicago
Elliott Sober
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Abstract
In 'Two Dogmas of Empiricism', Quine attacks the analytic/synthetic distinction and defends a doctrine that I call epistemological holism. Now, almost fifty years after the article's appearance, what are we to make of these ideas? I suggest that the philosophical naturalism that Quine did so much to promote should lead us to reject Quine's brief against the analytic/synthetic distinction; I also argue that Quine misunderstood Carnap's views on analyticity. As for epistemological holism, I claim that this thesis does not follow from the logical point that Duhem and Quine made about the role of auxiliary assumptions in hypothesis testing, and that the thesis should be rejected. \\\ [Peter Hylton] Section I of this essay discusses Quine's views about reference, contrasting them with those of Russell. For the latter, our language and thought succeed in being about the world because of our acquaintance with objects; the relation of reference-roughly, the relation between a name and its bearer-is thus fundamental. For Quine, by contrast, the fundamental relation by which our language comes to be about the world, and to have empirical content, is that between a sentence and stimulations of our sensory surfaces; reference, while important, is a derivative notion. Section II shows how this view of reference as derivative makes possible the notorious Quinean doctrine of ontological relativity. Section III raises the issue of realism. It argues that somewhat different notions of realism are in play for Quine and for Russell-for Russell, objects, and our knowledge of objects, play the fundamental role, while for quine objectivity and truth are fundamental, with ontology being derivative.
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DOI 10.1111/1467-8349.00071
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