Deflating Existential Consequence, Chapter 3

Deflating Existential Consequence, Chapter 3 - 3 Criteria...

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3 Criteria for the Ontological Commitments of Discourse The classical version Quine-Putnam indispensability thesis involves two steps. first step, which is one opponents thesis have universally attacked, is to claim that indispensable application mathe- matical doctrine requires our taking mathematics so applied be true. As I showed in chapters 1 and 2, it's hopeless try undermine the thesis by denying this claim. indispensability thesis, however, is indispensability applied mathematical doctrine commits us existence mathemati- cal entities, and so we still need a path from true cal doctrine a commitment entities. This requires a method for identifying what entities we are committed by espousing a doctrine- the application, as commonly put, a criterion for a discourse commits us to. choice (almost universally) is Quine's (1948). Here's plot for chapter 3: I explore reasons Quine, others, have given for his criterion, with a contrasting view implicitly in mind, ontological is be carried not by quantifiers but by an existence predicate instead. I will, in process, go through a very long analysis triviality thesis-this is because wide number options are possible defenses it. I end this chapter on an indeterminate note: There is no good argument for for what a discourse commits us to, at least when restricts oneself considerations about discourse. Chapter 4, therefore, naturally turns other ways determining a suitable criterion for a discourse com- 49
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50 Truth and Ontology mits us to via the m ore metaph ysical-looking route ofa criterion for what exists. Let's begin. The version of Quine's criterion I like is this: First, any bod y doctrine D mu st be regimented i nto an i nt erpreted first-order language tr: That done, we take commitment to be recognized by impli- cations of the f orm (3x)Sx, where Sx is any formula with variable x free. is, if (3x)Sx is deducible from D' , th en commits its believers to Ss. As Qu ine' s (194 8) discussion makes clear, this criterion is supposed apply dis cour ses regardless whether we take them as true. To the extent, therefore, that interpretation or tr anslati on a discourse requires agreement , this criterion is designed apply even discourses we don't unde rstan d-p rovided, se, at we take be couched in first -order languages. A syntactic criterion suits this demand perfectly.' Very oddly, philos opher s often retain Q uine' s criterion while qu ite openly aban do ni ng the restriction first- ord er theories. I worry ab out cogency of is (as doe s Quine ) because e criterion, when restricted first- order theories, really does off er a means of comparison between ories. When, however, one language has m od al resources, for example, and an other doesn 't , it' s unclear why ine's criterion (alone) would all ow straightforward ontological comparisons. I w press this p oint further, ho wever, because I den y 's criterion can do what it's supposed do, even in restricted situati s it was crafted for.
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Deflating Existential Consequence, Chapter 3 - 3 Criteria...

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