Phil 264 - Quine-2

Phil 264 - Quine-2 - Quine's "Two Dogmas of...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–2. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Quine's "Two Dogmas of Empiricism" (1951) (Hand-out 2 of 2) 0. Overview of Quine's paper For the purposes of this class, it is not important that you understand the details of Quine's arguments for his various views. What is important is that you understand what those views are, and the general structure of the arguments offered on their behalf. The basic structure of Quine's paper is as follows. First, he offers brief descriptions of the two "dogmas" that characterize the type of empiricism associated with logical positivism and, more particularly, with the verification theory of meaning. Second, he criticizes the dogmas one at a time, arguing (in the end) that they are "at root" identical. Third, he gives a sense of what empiricism without the dogmas would be like. The two dogmas in question are: (i) there is a principled distinction to be drawn between analytic and synthetic truths; (ii) empirical (synthetic) statements can be translated into a language containing only logical words and words that refer to "immediate experience." Let's consider how Quine dispenses with these two dogmas, beginning with the analytic/synthetic distinction. 1. Analytic/synthetic The first thing to note about this distinction is that it is an intuitive - perhaps even obvious - one. That is, it seems clear that some truths are true solely in virtue of word meaning and independently of fact, while other truths are true in virtue of word meaning and fact. (See if you can come up with examples of each kind of statement). Quine's attack on this dogma is two-fold. First , he considers and rejects various attempts to draw the analytic/synthetic distinction. Specifically, he rejects attempts to draw the distinction in terms of definition and cognitive synonymy . (He also rejects the attempt to define analyticity in terms of Carnap's semantical rules. However, since we have not read the relevant Carnap, don't worry about what Quine says about semantical rules.) Oversimplifying slightly, the problem with defining analyticity in terms of definition can be put this way. If we can define synonymy, then we can define analyticity. So it appears. Initially, it looks like we might be able to define synonymy in terms of definition. The problem is, the notion of definition presupposes that of synonymy. The lexicographer records pre-existing synonymies. So, if we cannot come up with a non-circular definition of synonymy in terms of the notion of definition, we cannot make any progress in the attempt to define analyticity in terms of synonymy. To understand the problem with defining analyticity in terms of cognitive synonymy, you must first understand what
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Image of page 2
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Page1 / 3

Phil 264 - Quine-2 - Quine's "Two Dogmas of...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 2. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online