Quine. "Two Dogmas of Empiricism" - University of San Diego

Quine. "Two Dogmas of Empiricism" - University of San Diego

Two Dogmas of Empiricism The Analytic-Synthetic Distinction and Reductionism Quines goals Modern empiricism has been conditioned in large part by two dogmas. One is a belief in some fundamental cleavage between truths which are analytic, or grounded in meanings independently of matters of fact and truths which are synthetic, or grounded in fact. The other dogma is reductionism: the belief that each meaningful statement is equivalent to some logical construct upon terms which refer to immediate experienceOne effect of abandoning them isa blurring of the supposed boundary between speculative metaphysics and natural science. Another effect is a shift toward pragmatism. Negative: trashing the two dogmas of logical positivism the analytic/synthetic distinction

reductionism Positive: naturalizing philosophy Understanding ontology as a matter of pragmatic decision, comparable to the natural sciences Quines plan Debunk the two central dogmas of Logical Positivism (Empiricism) using circularity arguments to show that we cant come up with an adequate non-question-begging account of analyticity is, so out go: The analytic/synthetic distinction Reductionism: the belief that each meaningful [factual] statement is equivalent to some logical construct upon terms which refer to immediate experience.

Naturalizing philosophy by blurring the supposed boundary between speculative metaphysics and natural science which reflects the distinction between analytic and synthetic sentences where the former are supposed to be the business of philosophy and the latter the business of the natural sciences. The Circularity Arguments Background for analyticity A statement is analytic when it is true by virtue of meanings and independent of fact.

Kant: an analytic statement is one that attributes to its subject no more than is already conceptually contained in the subject. Necessary and contingent propositions (Leibniz: truth of reason vs. truths of fact) A statement is necessary iff it is true at all possible worlds, i.e. it is not logically possible that it be false (Leibniz) its denial is self-contradictory A statement is contingent iff it is not necessary Problems

Kants definition restricts the definition to sentences in subject-predicate form and is metaphorical: what do we mean by contained? What is meaning? What is synonomy (sameness of meaning)? What are logical possibility and necessity? What is self-contradiction?

And what on earth are possible worlds? Analyticity as truth in virtue of meaning alone Proposal: a sentence is analytic iff true in virtue of meanings and independent of fact. Problem: What is MEANING? The meaning of an expression in the sense that interests us

is not its reference or extension. The extension of a singular term is the object it names The extension of a general term, or predicate, is the set of objects of which the general term is true The extensions of some predicates __ is brown {Ducati, the desk in S 312,} __is married to__ {, , ,}

__prefers__to__ {, } Meanings (Intensions) Problem: Analyticity has to be understood in terms of meanings (intensions) rather than extensions of terms But what are these intensions anyway?

Properties? Individual concepts or Fregean senses? Quine speaks: Once the theory of meaning is sharply separated from the theory of reference, it is a short step to recognizing as the business of a theory of meaning simply the synonomy of linguistic forms and the analyticity of statements; meanings themselves, as obscure intermediary entities, may well be abandoned. We dont need intentionsproviding we can give an account of synonomy and analyticity. Paraphrasing away bad things Alice and Betty are of the same height Surface grammar suggests that this attributes a 3-place

relation to Alice, Betty and Height. But we can paraphrase it as Alice is exactly as tall as Betty What we really have is a 2-place relation between Alice and Betty Height has been exorcized! The Exorcism: paraphrasing away intensions Bachelor and unmarried male have the same meaning. Surface grammar again suggest that this says theres a 3-place on bachelor, unmarried male and a Meaning. But we can paraphrase as Bachelor and unmarried male are synonymous What we really have is a 2-place relation Meanings (intensions) have been exorcized!

Synonomy Synonomy: sameness of meaning Even if there are no such things as meanings we can make do with synonomy since we can paraphrase away meanings in the way that we paraphrased away heights. BUT now we have another problem: what is synonomy!

And we need synonomy to understand analyticity! The problem of analyticity confronts us anew. Two types of analyticity Logical truths: If we suppose a prior inventory of logical particles, comprising no, un-, if, then, and, etc. then in general a logical truth is a statement which is true and remains true under all reinterpretations of its components other than the logical particles. (1) No unmarried man is married The other kind of analyticity (2) No bachelor is married The characteristic of such a statement is that it can be turned into a logical truth by putting synonyms for synonyms[But] we still lack a proper characterization of this second class of analytic statementsinasmuch as we have had in the above

description to lean on a notion of synonomy which is no less in need of clarification than analyticity itself. Definition There are those who find it soothing to say that the analytic statements of the second class reduce to those of the first class, the logical truths, by definition; bachelor, for example, is defined as unmarried man But what do we mean by definition? Every definition is either descriptive, i.e. lexicographical or explicative or stipulative and neither kind of definition will do the job! Dilemma: Stipulative definitions only go for a narrow range of cases Lexicographical and explicative definitions assume that we already understand synonomy: for them definition rests on synonymy rather than explaining it.

Descriptive definitions Lexicographical (dictionary) definition Bachelor =df unmarried male that never has been married But we can ask whether dictionary definitions are correct, i.e. whether they really capture synonomy Explication (contextual definition): the purposeis to improve upon the definiendum by refining or supplementing its meaning. But even explicationdoes rest nevertheless on other pre-existing synonomies[T]he purpose of explication is to preserve the usage of these favored contexts while sharpening the usage of other contexts. Appeals to pre-existing synonomies So were back to synonomy--and no wiser! Stipulative definition

Example: definition of logical operators in terms of primitives Example: if p then q is defined as not-p or q These definitions arent arbitrary but depend on purposes in formulating artificial languages But all they can deliver is analyticity-in-L

So we cant appeal to truth by definition to understand analyticity. Interchangeability A natural suggestionis that the synonymy of two linguistic forms consists simply in their interchangeability in all contexts without change of truth value; interchangeability, in Leibnizs phrase, salva veritate. Can we understand synonomy as intersubstitutivity salve veritate (preserving truth value) so that, e.g.? bachelor and unmarried male are synonymous comes to For any sentence where bachelor occurs, unmarried male can be substituted and the truth value of the sentence will stay the same The question remains whether interchangeability salve veritateis a strong enough condition for synonymy, or whethersome non-synonymous expressions might be thus

interchangeable. Cognitive Synonomy [W]e are not concerned here with synonymy in the sense of complete identity in psychological associations or poetic quality We are concerned only with what may be called cognitive synonymy Compare to Freges remarks about senses vs. ideas What we need is an account of cognitive synonymy not presupposing analyticity Interchangeability salva veritate is meaningless until relativized to a language Dilemma: In a purely extensional language non-synonymous terms are intersubstitutable salva veritate A language rich enough to block the intersubstitutability of nonsynonymous terms presupposes an understanding of analyticity! Extensional equivalence isnt synonomy

F and G are extensionally equivalent means that all and only Fs are Gs Fact: All and only creatures with hearts are creatures with kidneys BUT creature with a heart and creature with kidneys arent cognitively synonymous Sam believes that fish are creatures with hearts true Sam believes that fish are creatures with kidneys false

Sam understands creatures with hearts and creatures with kidneys but knowing what these terms mean doesnt help him here. Moral: extensional equivalence doesnt capture the notion of synonomysameness of meaningthat we want. Necessity Necessarily all and only Fs are Gs does capture synonomy It is not the case that necessarily all and only creatures with hearts are creatures with kidneys. It is the case that necessarily all and only bachelors are unmarried men. If Tom understands what bachelors and unmarried men

means then he knows that Dick and Harry are bachelors if and only if he knows that Dick and Harry are unmarried men. So bachelors and unmarried men are cognitively synonymous But we cant use necessarily! But Necessarily all and only Fs are Gs just says that All and only Fs are Gs is analytic! Remember: analyticity is what we were trying to explain but We tried to explain it in terms of synonomy and then explained synonomy of Fs and Gs in terms of a sentence using necessarily But then it turned out that tacking necessarily in front of a sentence just said that that sentence was analytic! So an account of analyticity in terms of necessity is circular! Intersubstitutivity is language relative!

The richer the language the less intersubstitutivity we get Example: sentences of the form If p then q and Not p or q are interchangeable in the truth-functional language of propositional logic If today is Wednesday then its sunny But not in ordinary English where if p then q says more. Extensional language

Quines example of an extensional language is the language of predicate logic, but so is English minus terms like necessarily Any two predicates which agree extensionally (i.e., are true of the same objects) are interchangeable salve veritat e in such a language. But consider creature with a heart and creature with a kidney which are extensionally equivalent.

[I]nterchangeability salva veritate, if construed in relation to an extensional language is not a sufficient condition of cognitive synonymy in the sense needed for deriving analyticity. A Richer Language Ordinary English, a richer language, includes words that can only be understood if we already understand what analyticity is Example: NECESSARILY Necessarily all and only bachelors are unmarried men just comes to All and only bachelors are unmarried men is analytic.

If a language contains an intensional adverb necessarilyor other particles to the same effect, then interchangebility salva veitate in such a language does afford a sufficient condition of cognitive synonymy; but such a language is intelligible only if the notion of analyticity is already clearly understood in advance. Interchangeability wont do A language in which interchangeability is sufficient for synonomy must be richer than a purely extensional language. And the additional stuff will include words like necessarily

which we cant understand unless we already understand analyticity Which is what we were trying to understand in the first place! The project is circular (but, sly question, are all circles vicious?) Semantical Rules Quine is alluding to Carnaps project which we will largely

ignore. The jist of his worry here is that appeal to semantical rules of a language, L, to explain analyticity only explains analyticity-in-L. But that doesnt explain analyticity for any other language or, what were after, the notion of analyticity as such. END PART I (and the First Dogma) [A] boundary between analytic and synthetic statements simply has not been drawn. That there is such a distinction to be drawn at all is an unempirical dogma of empiricists, a

metaphysical article of faith. We dont know what analyticity is because We still dont know what synonomy is Can we get at the idea of synonomy by appeal to the Verification Theory of meaning? Verification Theory & Reductionism The verification theory of meaningis that the meaning of a

statement is the method of empirically confirming or informing it. An analytic statement is that limiting case which is confirmed no matter what. Statement synonymy is said to be likeness of method of empirical confirmation or infirmation[What] is the nature of the relationship between a statement and the experiences which contribute to or detract from its confirmation?...The most nave viewis radical reductionism. Every meaningful statement is held to be translatable into a statement (true or false) about immediate experience. If this works we can understand analyticity in terms of logical truth (formal analyticity) and likeness in verification/falsification conditions! Fat chance. Phenomenalism: an example of Reductionism

Mill (and on some interpretations Berkeley) understood physical objects as permanent possibilities of sensation. Russell suggests theyre logical constructions out of objects of acquaintancecomparable to the average plumber Ayer reconstructs phenomenalism as the claim that talk about physical objects can be reduced to talk about experiences Verificationism and synonomy

Verificationists assume that each statement, taken in isolation from its fellows, can admit of confirmation or information at all. Sentences are synonymous exactly the same experiences count for and against them. A sentence is analytic if all experiences count for it--in effect, if no experiences count for or against. Quines Holism

Our statements about the external world face the tribunal of sense experience not individually but only as a corporate body. There is no firm distinction between a linguistic and factual component of the truth of any individual statement. The whale is a mammal (?) Quines Holism Marriage is between a man and a woman (?) Empiricism Without the Dogmas Some statements are more entrenched than others but all face the tribunal of experience together.

So no statements are purely linguistic The unit of empirical significance is the whole of science The Web of Belief The totality of our so-called knowledge or beliefs, from the most casual matters of geography and history to the profoundest laws of atomic physics or even of pure mathematics and logic, is a manmade fabric which impinges on experience only along the edges. The field whose boundary conditions are experience

Logic Everything is in principle revisable--the difference between logical Scientific principles and empirical claimsTheories concerns the costs of revision Physical objects as posits (like Homeric gods) Ordinary Empirical Claims Ontology (again)

What we admit to our ontology is a matter of what we need for the best scientific theory Physical objects? Sets? Sets of sets? Brick houses on Elm street?

Quines radical pragmatism When it comes to ontology everything is negotiable: Ontological decisions are a matter of cost-benefit analysis reflecting on the needs of science--an extension of common sense. Shift questions of ontology in the direction of pragmatism The correct ontology is the one that best serves the purposes of the best science If science progresses so that the best science requires a different ontology then we adopt a different ontology. The Naturalization of Philosophy Ontological questionsare on a par with questions of natural

sciencethe issue over there being classes seems more a question of convenient conceptual scheme; the issue over there being centaurs, or brick houses on Elm Street, seems more a question of fact. But I have been urging that this difference is only one of degree, and that it turns upon our vaguely pragmatic inclination to adjust one strand of the fabric of science rather than another in accommodating some particular recalcitrant experience. Conservatism figures in such choices, and so does the quest for simplicityEach man is given a scientific heritage plus a continuing barrage of sensory stimulation; and the considerations which guide him in warping his scientific heritage to fit his continuing sensory promptings are, where rational, pragmatic.

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