By Professor Edward Becker
Willard Van Orman Quine’s paintings revolutionized the fields of epistemology, semantics and ontology. on the middle of his philosophy are a number of interconnected doctrines: his rejection of conventionalism and of the linguistic doctrine of logical and mathematical fact, his rejection of the analytic/synthetic contrast, his thesis of the indeterminacy of translation and his thesis of the inscrutability of reference. during this booklet Edward Becker units out to interpret and clarify those doctrines. He bargains precise analyses of the proper texts, discusses Quine’s perspectives on that means, reference and information, and exhibits how Quine’s perspectives constructed through the years. He additionally proposes a brand new model of the linguistic doctrine of logical fact, and a brand new manner of rehabilitating analyticity. His wealthy exploration of Quine’s suggestion will curiosity all these looking to comprehend and assessment the paintings of 1 of an important philosophers of the second one 1/2 the 20 th century.
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Additional info for The Themes of Quine’s Philosophy: Meaning, Reference, and Knowledge
The form of (5) may be schematized as ‘p $ q’, the form of (6) as ‘q $ r’, the form of (7) as ‘r $ w’, and the form of (4) as ‘p $ w’. The form of the argument then emerges as p$q q$r Therefore, r $ w p$w There remains the problem of understanding why we should accept (7). Quine does not even state this premise, let alone argue for it, so the issue is whether we can construct our own argument in support of it. Perhaps the following will suffice. A statement is a truth of logic if and only if the result of replacing each of its predicates by a schematic predicate letter is a valid schema.
Hence, by transitivity of abbreviation, M is a definitional abbreviation of a logical truth. 2 conventionalism in “truth by convention” 17 expressions, then the conventionalist thesis holds: All mathematical truths are definitional abbreviations of logical truths. A sufficient condition for the truth of the thesis, then, is the definability of mathematical expressions in logical terms. But what if some mathematical expressions are not reducible to a purely logical vocabulary? In this case, says Quine, the thesis that all mathematical truths are logical truths will hold only if every mathematical truth containing such irreducible expressions contains them only inessentially, or is a definitional abbreviation of a truth that contains them only inessentially (p.
In point of meaning,” we are told, “. . a word may be said to be determined to whatever extent the truth or falsehood of its contexts is determined” (p. 24 Truth and falsehood, and thus meaning, may be determined either relatively or absolutely. Definitions, according to Quine, determine the truth or falsity of statements relative to the truth or falsity of other statements, thus determining the meaning of the definiendum relative to the components of those other statements. We also have the option, however, of introducing a new word by assigning truth or falsity to its contexts directly, thereby determining its meaning absolutely.