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Quine- Two Dogmas 1.pdf

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Department
Philosophy
Course
PHL100Y1
Professor
Peter King
Semester
Winter

Description
CONTEMPORARY PHILOSOPHY: QUINE (I) [1] There are two main streams of philosophy nowadays: (a) “analytic” philosophy, sometimes called “anglo-american” philosophy; (b) “continental” philosophy. The distinction was one ide- ological, stemming from different views about how philosophy should be done and what histor- ical philosophers are to be taken seriously, though now the difference is largely a matter of style and influence. Analytic philosophy was born in the project of ‘analysis’, the thought that we can gain clarity by analyzing our concepts—or perhaps our language. It is marked by a concern for precision, accurate and lucid formulation, attention to detail, and a concern with method (in particular scientific method); these led to a focus on logic and philosophy of language, and a ‘collective’ approach to philosophical problems, filled with the conviction that more care and rigour can identify pseudoproblems and make progress on genuine problems. [2] Willard Van Orman Quine (1908–2000): Philosophy in the academy, and one of the most famous philosophers of the middle of the 20th century. His article “Two Dogmas of Empiri- cism” is one of the classics of analytic philosophy, engaging with its preferred past (empiricism) and attempting to go beyond it. Quine prefers to talk about other contemporary philosophers, particularly Rudolf Carnap, but most of his points are scored against the traditions initiated by Hume and to a large extent carried on by Kant—and, in keeping with the practice of post- Nietzschean thought, tries to update the traditions with a greater awareness of the social and historical context for philosophical questions. [3] Quine tells us right off that the two dogmas of empiricism are (a) the analytic/synthetic distinction, and (b) reductionism. Both are familiar to us from Hume and Kant, and there is much to be said in favor of each. Nevertheless, Quine holds that both are essentially the same mistaken view. Let’s take a look at his case. [4] The bulk of “Two Dogmas of Empiricism” is given over to arguing against analyticity, roughly on the grounds that there is no nontrivial and noncircular way of making out the distinction between the analytic and the synthetic (this is the burden of §§1–5). Quine begins with two distinctions that we need to be clear about, namely the distinction between logical truths and non-logical truths on the one hand, and between sense (or ‘meaning’) and reference on the other hand. Consider the difference between these three statements: Venus is Venus Venus is the Morning Star The Morning Star is the Evening Star The first is a logical truth of the form “x = x”; the latter two are not, even though Venus is the Morning Star and also the Evening Star. Quine thinks the problem here is that we have not d
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