idea number gives full details.     |    back to list of philosophers     |     expand these ideas

Ideas of Willard Quine, by Text

[American, 1908 - 2000, Born in Ohio. Studied with Carnap in Vienna. Professor at Harvard University. Taught Davidson and Lewis.]

1935 Truth by Convention
p.7 Logic needs general conventions, but that needs logic to apply them to individual cases
p.102 p.102 Claims that logic and mathematics are conventional are either empty, uninteresting, or false
p.104 p.104 Logic isn't conventional, because logic is needed to infer logic from conventions
p.106 p.106 If a convention cannot be communicated until after its adoption, what is its role?
p.327 p.121 Quine quickly dismisses If-thenism
p.79 p.79 If mathematics follows from definitions, then it is conventional, and part of logic
p.87 p.87 If analytic geometry identifies figures with arithmetical relations, logicism can include geometry
p.89 p.89 Definition by words is determinate but relative; fixing contexts could make it absolute
p.95 p.95 If if time is money then if time is not money then time is money then if if if time is not money...
p.99 p.99 There are four different possible conventional accounts of geometry
1937 New Foundations for Mathematical Logic
p.230 NF has no models, but just blocks the comprehension axiom, to avoid contradictions
1940 Mathematical Logic (revised)
1.6 p.36 'Corner quotes' (quasi-quotation) designate 'whatever these terms designate'
1941 Whitehead and the Rise of Modern Logic
p.16 Quine says higher-order items are intensional, and lack a clearly defined identity relation
1948 On What There Is
p.1 There is an attempt to give a verificationist account of meaning, without the error of reducing everything to sensations
p.11 Quine rests existence on bound variables, because he thinks singular terms can be analysed away
p.17 The idea of a thing and the idea of existence are two sides of the same coin
p.27 Canonical notation needs quantification, variables and predicates, but not names
p.29 Quine extended Russell's defining away of definite descriptions, to also define away names
p.47 Fictional quantification has no ontology, so we study ontology through scientific theories
p.114 Quine relates predicates to their objects, by being 'true of' them
p.141 For Quine, there is only one way to exist
p.161 Quine's ontology is wrong; his question is scientific, and his answer is partly philosophical
p.503 Quine has argued that predicates do not have any ontological commitment
§1 p.196 Quine's indispensability argument said arguments for abstracta were a posteriori
Ch.6 p.177 If to be is to be the value of a variable, we must already know the values available
p.10 p.10 There is no entity called 'redness', and that some things are red is ultimate and irreducible
p.11 p.11 The word 'meaning' is only useful when talking about significance or about synonymy
p.11 p.11 I do not believe there is some abstract entity called a 'meaning' which we can 'have'
p.12 p.12 Names can be converted to descriptions, and Russell showed how to eliminate those
p.13 p.13 To be is to be the value of a variable, which amounts to being in the range of reference of a pronoun
p.14 p.14 Logicists cheerfully accept reference to bound variables and all sorts of abstract entities
p.14 p.14 Intuitionism says classes are invented, and abstract entities are constructed from specified ingredients
p.14 p.14 Conceptualism holds that there are universals but they are mind-made
p.14 p.14 Realism, conceptualism and nominalism in medieval universals reappear in maths as logicism, intuitionism and formalism
p.15 p.15 Formalism says maths is built of meaningless notations; these build into rules which have meaning
p.15 p.15 We study bound variables not to know reality, but to know what reality language asserts
p.16 p.16 What actually exists does not, of course, depend on language
p.16 p.16 An ontology is like a scientific theory; we accept the simplest scheme that fits disorderly experiences
p.17 p.17 Treating scattered sensations as single objects simplifies our understanding of experience
p.18 p.173 We can never translate our whole language of objects into phenomenalism
p.4 p.4 Can an unactualized possible have self-identity, and be distinct from other possibles?
1950 Identity, Ostension, and Hypostasis
1 p.65 A river is a process, with stages; if we consider it as one thing, we are considering a process
1 p.68 To unite a sequence of ostensions to make one object, a prior concept of identity is needed
2 p.69 We don't say 'red' is abstract, unlike a river, just because it has discontinuous shape
2 p.69 'Red' is a single concrete object in space-time; 'red' and 'drop' are parts of a red drop
2 p.71 Discourse generally departmentalizes itself to some degree
2 p.71 We should just identify any items which are indiscernible within a given discourse
3 p.72 Red is the largest red thing in the universe
4 p.75 Understanding 'is square' is knowing when to apply it, not knowing some object
4 p.76 General terms don't commit us ontologically, but singular terms with substitution do
5 p.78 We aren't stuck with our native conceptual scheme; we can gradually change it
5 p.78 Apply '-ness' or 'class of' to abstract general terms, to get second-level abstract singular terms
5 p.79 Concepts are language
1951 On Carnap's Views on Ontology
p.205 p.205 Names have no ontological commitment, because we can deny that the name anything
p.205 p.205 We can use quantification for commitment to unnameable things like the real numbers
p.211 p.211 Without the analytic/synthetic distinction, Carnap's ontology/empirical distinction collapses
1953 Three Grades of Modal Involvement
p.105 Whether a modal claim is true depends on how the object is described
p.158 p.158 Necessity can attach to statement-names, to statements, and to open sentences
p.174 p.174 Objects are the values of variables, so a referentially opaque context cannot be quantified into
p.176 p.176 Necessity is in the way in which we say things, and not things themselves
p.176 p.176 Aristotelian essentialism says a thing has some necessary and some non-necessary properties
1953 Mr Strawson on Logical Theory
p.187 Quine holds time to be 'space-like': past objects are as real as spatially remote ones
1953 Reference and Modality
p.3 Whether 9 is necessarily greater than 7 depends on how '9' is described
p.4 We can't quantify in modal contexts, because the modality depends on descriptions, not objects
§1 p.140 Failure of substitutivity shows that a personal name is not purely referential
§2 p.148 Quantifying into referentially opaque contexts often produces nonsense
§2 p.148 To be necessarily greater than 7 is not a trait of 7, but depends on how 7 is referred to
§3 p.151 Necessity only applies to objects if they are distinctively specified
§3 p.152 Maybe we can quantify modally if the objects are intensional, but it seems unlikely
§3 p.155 Quantification into modal contexts requires objects to have an essence
§4 p.158 We can't say 'necessarily if x is in water then x dissolves' if we can't quantify modally
1953 Two Dogmas of Empiricism
p.1 Quine's attack on analyticity undermined linguistic views of necessity, and analytic views of the a priori
p.30 Quine attacks the Fregean idea that we can define analyticity through synonyous substitution
p.80 Quine challenges the claim that analytic truths are knowable a priori
p.117 'Renate' and 'cordate' have identical extensions, but are not synonymous
p.123 The second dogma is linking every statement to some determinate observations
p.147 Contrary to some claims, Quine does not deny logical necessity
p.150 The last two parts of 'Two Dogmas' are much the best
p.158 Erasing the analytic/synthetic distinction got rid of meanings, and saved philosophy of language
p.166 Quine's objections to a priori knowledge only work in the domain of science
p.166 Science is empirical, simple and conservative; any belief can hence be abandoned; so no a priori
p.168 Logic, arithmetic and geometry are revisable and a posteriori; quantum logic could be right
p.214 The analytic needs excessively small units of meaning and empirical confirmation
p.214 Quine blurs the difference between knowledge of arithmetic and of physics
p.407 Quine's attack on the analytic-synthetic distinction undermined necessary truths
§1 p.22 Aristotelian essence of the object has become the modern essence of meaning
§1 p.22 Analytic statements are either logical truths (all reinterpretations) or they depend on synonymy
p.20 p.20 Empiricism makes a basic distinction between truths based or not based on facts
p.22 p.22 Once meaning and reference are separated, meaning ceases to seem important
p.24 p.24 Did someone ever actually define 'bachelor' as 'unmarried man'?
p.26 p.26 Definition rests on synonymy, rather than explaining it
p.32 p.32 If we try to define analyticity by synonymy, that leads back to analyticity
p.41 p.41 Statements about the external world face the tribunal of sense experience as a corporate body
p.42 p.42 It is troublesome nonsense to split statements into a linguistic and a factual component
p.43 p.43 Any statement can be held true if we make enough adjustment to the rest of the system
p.44 p.44 If physical objects are a myth, they are useful for making sense of experience
p.45 p.45 Our outer beliefs must match experience, and our inner ones must be simple
1954 Carnap and Logical Truth
p.233 In order to select the logic justified by experience, we would need to use a lot of logic
I p.107 Frege moved Kant's question about a priori synthetic to 'how is logical certainty possible?'
II p.110 Elementary logic requires truth-functions, quantifiers (and variables), identity, and also sets of variables
II p.111 Set theory was struggling with higher infinities, when new paradoxes made it baffling
II p.111 If set theory is not actually a branch of logic, then Frege's derivation of arithmetic would not be from logic
p.103 p.9 Logical consequence is marked by being preserved under all nonlogical substitutions
VI p.122 Examination of convention in the a priori begins to blur the distinction with empirical knowledge
x p.132 Commitment to universals is as arbitrary or pragmatic as the adoption of a new system of bookkeeping
1954 The Scope and Language of Science
§6 p.242 The category of objects incorporates the old distinction of substances and their modes
§VI p.243 A hallucination can, like an ague, be identified with its host; the ontology is physical, the idiom mental
§VI p.244 Maths can be reduced to logic and set theory
1955 Quantifiers and Propositional Attitudes
§II p.188 Intensions are creatures of darkness which should be exorcised
1960 Speaking of Objects
p.95 "No entity without identity" - our ontology must contain items with settled identity conditions
§5 p.21 Our conceptual scheme becomes more powerful when we posit abstract objects
IV p.19 There is no proper identity concept for properties, and it is hard to distinguish one from two
p.52 p.157 I prefer 'no object without identity' to Quine's 'no entity without identity'
pt.I,p.1 p.1 We can only see an alien language in terms of our own thought structures (e.g. physical/abstract)
pt.III,p.11 p.11 You could know the complete behavioural conditions for a foreign language, and still not know their beliefs
pt.V,p.25 p.25 Translation of our remote past or language could be as problematic as alien languages
1960 Word and Object
p.7 Quine expresses the instrumental version of eliminativism
p.20 Two theories can be internally consistent and match all the facts, yet be inconsistent with one another
p.465 Quine's naturalistic and empirical view is based entirely on first-order logic and set theory
§01 p.4 Enquiry needs a conceptual scheme, so we should retain the best available
§07 p.27 The firmer the links between sentences and stimuli, the less translations can diverge
§09 p.38 We can never precisely pin down how to translate the native word 'Gavagai'
§12 p.51 Stimulus synonymy of 'Gavagai' and 'Rabbit' does not even guarantee they are coextensive
§13 p.58 Weird translations are always possible, but they improve if we impose our own logic on them
§15 p.69 We should be suspicious of a translation which implies that a people have very strange beliefs
§15 p.72 Dispositions to speech behaviour, and actual speech, are never enough to fix any one translation
§19 p.90 Plurals can in principle be paraphrased away altogether
§33 p.161 The quest for ultimate categories is the quest for a simple clear pattern of notation
§36 p.171 Physical objects in space-time are just events or processes, no matter how disconnected
§41 p.199 Mathematicians must be rational but not two-legged, cyclists the opposite. So a mathematical cyclist?
§41.5 p.86 Cyclist are not actually essentially two-legged
§43 p.100 Quine aims to deal with properties by the use of eternal open sentences, or classes
§46 p.86 Explain unmanifested dispositions as structural similarities to objects which have manifested them
§46 p.221 Conditionals are pointless if the truth value of the antecedent is known
§46 p.222 What stays the same in assessing a counterfactual antecedent depends on context
§46 p.222 Counterfactuals are plausible when dispositions are involved, as they imply structures
§46 p.222 We feign belief in counterfactual antecedents, and assess how convincing the consequent is
§46 p.225 Either dispositions rest on structures, or we keep saying 'all things being equal'
§46 p.225 Counterfactuals have no place in a strict account of science
§46 p.226 Normal conditionals have a truth-value gap when the antecedent is false.
§47 p.230 We can paraphrase 'x=y' as a sequence of the form 'if Fx then Fy'
§48 p.238 The notion of a physical object is by far the most useful one for science
§54 p.262 Any progression will do nicely for numbers; they can all then be used to measure multiplicity
§55 p.269 Nearly all of mathematics has to quantify over abstract objects
1961 works
p.1 Quine's empiricism is based on whole theoretical systems, not on single mental events
p.3 Universals are acceptable if they are needed to make an accepted theory true
p.5 Quine says we can expand predicates easily (ideology), but not names (ontology)
p.5 Set theory is full of Platonist metaphysics, so Quine aimed to keep it separate from logic
p.17 No sense can be made of quantification into opaque contexts
p.27 If we had to name objects to make existence claims, we couldn't discuss all the real numbers
p.29 Quine wants V = L for a cleaner theory, despite the scepticism of most theorists
p.36 Quine suggests that properties can be replaced with extensional entities like sets
p.57 Intuitionists only admit numbers properly constructed, but classical maths covers all reals in a 'limit'
p.57 For Quine, intuitionist ontology is inadequate for classical mathematics
p.64 Quine says that if second-order logic is to quantify over properties, that can be done in first-order predicate logic
p.66 Quine says there is no matter of fact about reference - it is 'inscrutable'
p.68 For Quine, theories are instruments used to make predictions about observations
p.68 Quine brought classes into semantics to get rid of properties
p.87 For Quine everything exists theoretically, as reference, predication and quantification
p.125 Don't analyse 'red is a colour' as involving properties. Say 'all red things are coloured things'
p.129 Two things can never entail three things
p.165 Quine says the predicate of a true statement has no ontological implications
p.166 Quine thought substitutional quantification confused use and mention, but then saw its nominalist appeal
p.181 To proclaim cultural relativism is to thereby rise above it
p.272 The principle of charity only applies to the logical constants
p.277 Quine wants identity and individuation-conditions for possibilia
p.277 Definite descriptions can't unambiguously pick out an object which doesn't exist
p.348 Quinean metaphysics just lists the beings, which is a domain with no internal structure
p.360 Essence gives an illusion of understanding
p.414 A logically perfect language could express all truths, so all truths must be logically expressible
p.478 Finite quantification can be eliminated in favour of disjunction and conjunction
Ch.6 n15 p.255 Quine is committed to sets, but is more a Class Nominalist than a Platonist
1962 Reply to Professor Marcus
p.177 p.177 Lewis's 'strict implication' preserved Russell's confusion of 'if...then' with implication
p.183 p.183 Either reference really matters, or we don't need to replace it with substitutions
1963 Necessary Truth
p.76 p.76 There is no necessity higher than natural necessity, and that is just regularity
1965 Propositional Objects
p.139 p.139 A 'proposition' is said to be the timeless cognitive part of the meaning of a sentence
p.140 p.140 The problem with propositions is their individuation. When do two sentences express one proposition?
p.144 p.144 How do you distinguish three beliefs from four beliefs or two beliefs?
p.149 p.149 The concept of a 'point' makes no sense without the idea of absolute position
1966 Existence and Quantification
p.216 Express a theory in first-order predicate logic; its ontology is the types of bound variable needed for truth
p.100 p.100 Philosophers tend to distinguish broad 'being' from narrower 'existence' - but I reject that
p.106 p.106 Ontological commitment of theories only arise if they are classically quantified
p.92 p.92 In formal terms, a category is the range of some style of variables
p.94 p.94 Existence is implied by the quantifiers, not by the constants
p.95 p.95 Theories are committed to objects of which some of its predicates must be true
p.97 p.97 All we have of general existence is what existential quantifiers express
1967 Introduction to Russell's Theory of Types
p.152 p.12 The Axiom of Reducibility is self-effacing: if true, it isn't needed
1968 Epistemology Naturalized
p.3 You can't reduce epistemology to psychology, because that presupposes epistemology
p.193 We should abandon a search for justification or foundations, and focus on how knowledge is acquired
p.305 If we abandon justification and normativity in epistemology, we must also abandon knowledge
p.306 Without normativity, naturalized epistemology isn't even about beliefs
p.69-70 p.69 Mathematics reduces to set theory (which is a bit vague and unobvious), but not to logic proper
p.75 p.75 Inculcations of meanings of words rests ultimately on sensory evidence
p.83 p.83 Epistemology is a part of psychology, studying how our theories relate to our evidence
p.86 p.86 In observation sentences, we could substitute community acceptance for analyticity
1968 Ontological Relativity
p.68 Reference is inscrutable, because we cannot choose between theories of numbers
p.35 p.35 Indeterminacy translating 'rabbit' depends on translating individuation terms
p.53 p.53 Absolute ontological questions are meaningless, because the answers are circular definitions
p.54 p.54 Ontology is relative to both a background theory and a translation manual
p.55 p.55 We know what things are by distinguishing them, so identity is part of ontology
p.67 p.67 Two things are relative - the background theory, and translating the object theory into the background theory
1969 Natural Kinds
p.381 Quine probably regrets natural kinds now being treated as essences
p.115-6 p.115 Projectible predicates can be universalised about the kind to which they refer
p.116 p.116 Grue is a puzzle because the notions of similarity and kind are dubious in science
p.116 p.116 General terms depend on similarities among things
p.118 p.118 If similarity has no degrees, kinds cannot be contained within one another
p.119 p.119 Comparative similarity allows the kind 'colored' to contain the kind 'red'
p.120 p.120 You can't base kinds just on resemblance, because chains of resemblance are a muddle
p.122 p.122 To learn yellow by observation, must we be told to look at the colour?
p.123 p.123 Standards of similarity are innate, and the spacing of qualities such as colours can be mapped
p.124 p.124 Mass terms just concern spread, but other terms involve both spread and individuation
p.125 p.125 Induction relies on similar effects following from each cause
p.125 p.125 Induction is just more of the same: animal expectations
p.126 p.126 It is hard to see how regularities could be explained
p.126 p.126 Philosophy is continuous with science, and has no external vantage point
p.129 p.129 Science is common sense, with a sophisticated method
p.130 p.130 We judge things to be soluble if they are the same kind as, or similar to, things that do dissolve
p.131 p.131 Causation is just invariance, as long as it is described in general terms
p.134 p.134 Similarity is just interchangeability in the cosmic machine
p.135 p.135 Once we know the mechanism of a disposition, we can eliminate 'similarity'
p.137 p.137 Klein summarised geometry as grouped together by transformations
1970 Philosophy of Logic
p.130 Quine rejects second-order logic, saying that predicates refer to multiple objects
Ch.1 p.3 It makes no sense to say that two sentences express the same proposition
Ch.1 p.4 There is no rule for separating the information from other features of sentences
Ch.1 p.8 Single words are strongly synonymous if their interchange preserves truth
Ch.1 p.10 We can abandon propositions, and just talk of sentences and equivalence
Ch.1 p.11 Talk of 'truth' when sentences are mentioned; it reminds us that reality is the point of sentences
Ch.1 p.11 Truth is redundant for single sentences; we do better to simply speak the sentence
Ch.2 p.24 We can eliminate 'or' from our basic theory, by paraphrasing 'p or q' as 'not(not-p and not-q)'
Ch.2 p.24 Some conditionals can be explained just by negation and conjunction: not(p and not-q)
Ch.2 p.25 Universal quantification is widespread, but it is definable in terms of existential quantification
Ch.2 p.25 Names are not essential, because naming can be turned into predication
Ch.2 p.27 Predicates are not names; predicates are the other parties to predication
Ch.2 p.31 Four-d objects helps predication of what no longer exists, and quantification over items from different times
Ch.2 p.36 A physical object is the four-dimensional material content of a portion of space-time
Ch.3 p.36 My logical grammar has sentences by predication, then negation, conjunction, and existential quantification
Ch.3 p.40 A good way of explaining an expression is saying what conditions make its contexts true
Ch.5 p.62 Quantification theory can still be proved complete if we add identity
Ch.5 p.66 Quantifying over predicates is treating them as names of entities
Ch.5 p.66 Putting a predicate letter in a quantifier is to make it the name of an entity
Ch.6 p.81 If you say that a contradiction is true, you change the meaning of 'not', and so change the subject
Ch.6 p.83 Excluded middle has three different definitions
Ch.6 p.92 You can't base quantification on substituting names for variables, if the irrationals cannot all be named
Ch.6 p.93 Some quantifications could be false substitutionally and true objectually, because of nameless objects
Ch.7 p.95 A sentence is logically true if all sentences with that grammatical structure are true
Ch.7 p.95 Maybe logical truth reflects reality, but in different ways in different languages
1972 Methodological Reflections on Current Linguistic Theory
p.281 Syntax and semantics are indeterminate, and modern 'semantics' is a bogus subject
1972 Vagaries of Definition
p.51 p.51 Meaning is essence divorced from things and wedded to words
p.51 p.51 The distinction between meaning and further information is as vague as the essence/accident distinction
p.53 p.53 All the arithmetical entities can be reduced to classes of integers, and hence to sets
1974 On Multiplying Entities
p.260 p.260 Explaining events just by bodies can't explain two events identical in space-time
p.262 p.262 The quest for simplicity drove scientists to posit new entities, such as molecules in gases
p.262 p.262 Necessity could be just generalisation over classes, or (maybe) quantifying over possibilia
p.263 p.263 In arithmetic, ratios, negatives, irrationals and imaginaries were created in order to generalise
1975 Five Milestones of Empiricism
p.67 p.67 Empiricism improvements: words for ideas, then sentences, then systems, then no analytic, then naturalism
p.68 p.68 Bentham's contextual definitions preserved terms after their denotation became doubtful
p.69 p.69 Contextual definition shifted the emphasis from words to whole sentences
p.70 p.70 In scientific theories sentences are too brief to be independent vehicles of empirical meaning
p.71 p.71 Holism in language blurs empirical synthetic and empty analytic sentences
1975 On the Individuation of Attributes
p.100 p.100 Because things can share attributes, we cannot individuate attributes clearly
p.101 p.101 Identity of physical objects is just being coextensive
p.102 p.102 No entity without identity (which requires a principle of individuation)
p.106 p.106 You only know an attribute if you know what things have it
1975 Reply to Hellman
p.206 p.17 A sentence is obvious if it is true, and any speaker of the language will instantly agree to it
1977 Intensions Revisited
p.118 p.118 A rigid designator (for all possible worlds) picks out an object by its essential traits
p.118 p.118 Possible worlds are a way to dramatise essentialism, and yet they presuppose essentialism
p.121 p.121 Essences can make sense in a particular context or enquiry, as the most basic predicates
p.121 p.121 Necessity is relative to context; it is what is assumed in an inquiry
p.121 p.121 Quantified modal logic collapses if essence is withdrawn
p.123 p.123 Beliefs can be ascribed to machines
1978 on Goodman's 'Ways of Worldmaking'
p.98 p.98 Every worldly event, without exception, is a redistribution of microphysical states
1979 Has Philosophy Lost Contact with People?
p.192 p.192 For a good theory of the world, we must focus on our flabby foundational vocabulary
p.193 p.193 Inspiration and social improvement need wisdom, but not professional philosophy
1981 On the Very Idea of a Third Dogma
p.42 p.42 Translation is too flimsy a notion to support theories of cultural incommensurability
1981 What Price Bivalence?
p.32 p.32 Terms learned by ostension tend to be vague, because that must be quick and unrefined
p.36 p.36 Bivalence implies not just to sentences, but that general terms are true or false of each object
1984 Review of Parsons (1983)
p.788 p.105 Mathematics is part of science; transfinite mathematics I take as mostly uninterpreted
1985 Events and Reification
p.7 Causal relata are individuated by coarse spacetime regions
1990 The Roots of Reference
p.11 p.13 Dispositions are physical states of mechanism; when known, these replace the old disposition term
1992 Structure and Nature
p.6 p.142 I apply structuralism to concrete and abstract objects indiscriminately
p.9 p.142 My ontology is quarks etc., classes of such things, classes of such classes etc.
1995 From Stimulus to Science
p.23 p.32 To affirm 'p and not-p' is to have mislearned 'and' or 'not'