Ideas from 'On Multiplying Entities' by Willard Quine [1974], by Theme Structure

[found in 'Ways of Paradox and other essays' by Quine,Willard [Harvard 1976,0-674-94837-8]].

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2. Reason / B. Laws of Thought / 6. Ockham's Razor
The quest for simplicity drove scientists to posit new entities, such as molecules in gases
                        Full Idea: It is the quest for system and simplicity that has kept driving the scientist to posit further entities as values of his variables. By positing molecules, Boyles' law of gases could be assimilated into a general theory of bodies in motion.
                        From: Willard Quine (On Multiplying Entities [1974], p.262)
                        A reaction: Interesting that a desire for simplicity might lead to multiplications of entities. In fact, I presume molecules had been proposed elsewhere in science, and were adopted in gas-theory because they were thought to exist, not because simplicity is nice.
In arithmetic, ratios, negatives, irrationals and imaginaries were created in order to generalise
                        Full Idea: In classical arithmetic, ratios were posited to make division generally applicable, negative numbers to make subtraction generally applicable, and irrationals and finally imaginaries to make exponentiation generally applicable.
                        From: Willard Quine (On Multiplying Entities [1974], p.263)
                        A reaction: This is part of Quine's proposal (c.f. Idea 8207) that entities have to be multiplied in order to produce simplicity. He is speculating. Maybe they are proposed because they are just obvious, and the generality is a nice side-effect.
7. Existence / B. Change in Existence / 4. Events / c. Reduction of events
Explaining events just by bodies can't explain two events identical in space-time
                        Full Idea: An account of events just in terms of physical bodies does not distinguish between events that happen to take up just the same portion of space-time. A man's whistling and walking would be identified with the same temporal segment of the man.
                        From: Willard Quine (On Multiplying Entities [1974], p.260)
                        A reaction: We wouldn't want to make his 'walking' and his 'strolling' two events. Whistling and walking are different because different objects are involved (lips and legs). Hence a man is not (ontologically) a single object.
10. Modality / A. Necessity / 11. Denial of Necessity
Necessity could be just generalisation over classes, or (maybe) quantifying over possibilia
                        Full Idea: The need to add a note of necessity to 'all black crows are black' could be met by a generalisation over classes (what belongs to sets x and y belongs to y), or maybe be quantifying over possible particulars.
                        From: Willard Quine (On Multiplying Entities [1974], p.262)
                        A reaction: He dislikes the second strategy because 'unactualized particulars are an obscure and troublesome lot'. The second is the strategy of Lewis. I think necessity starts to creep back in as soon as you ask WHY a generalisation holds true.