[hist-analytic] Quine's "two dogmas"

Roger Bishop Jones rbj at rbjones.com
Sat Jan 31 12:29:42 EST 2009

On Saturday 31 January 2009 13:04:03 steve bayne wrote:

> If it weren't for the fact that I've heard Quine reject the
> analytic/synthetic distinction from his own lips I would be more receptive,
> maybe. But the idea that Hylton understood Quine better than Quine strikes
> me as ludicrous. The alternative is a secret philosophy held by Quine. I
> can find no instance where Quine clarifies his position, as one would
> expect if Hylton were right.

Hylton says (Chapter 3 p 52):

"Some of Quine's writings from the early 50s encourage the idea that he wholly 
rejects anything that might be called a version of the analytic-synthetic 
distinction.  This is especially true of 'Two Dogmas of Empiricism' the wide 
currency of that essay is no doubt responsible for the impression that Quine 
wholly rejects any version of the distinction.  But even in that essay he 
leaves some room for a distinction which he gives the name, and by the time 
of 'Roots of Reference' (1974) he is explicitly endorsing one. (Whether it is 
worthy of the name is another question, but not an important one.)"

Hylton says that in his later philosophy Quine backed off denying the 
distinction in favour of denying it any possible philosophical significance.

Hunting for specific references, I see that he says that in "Two Dogmas 
Reconsidered" (p270) (and in Word and Object section 12) Quine accepts 
explicitly that "all batchelors are unmarried" is analtyic.

Roger Jones

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