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

Rogério Passos Severo rpsevero at gmail.com
Sun Feb 1 17:49:18 EST 2009


Dear Steve, Roger, JL, and others interested in this thread,

When Quine says that he is rejecting the analytic/synthetic
distinction, what does he mean? A straightforward interpretation says
that he is rejecting the possibility of making the distinction. But
this interpretation is untenable, because Quine himself draws the
distinction in Roots of Reference (pp. 78-80) and elsewhere. So we
have to find an alternative interpretation, which is what Hylton did:
Quine was rejecting not the possibility of drawing the distinction,
but the claim that there is an epistemically significant
analytic/synthetic distinction. We can still draw the distinction, but
it will not do the job that Carnap and others assigned to it. Quine is
not rejecting the distinction, but the idea that there is a
distinction which can do the job Carnap assigned to it (namely:
explaining the justification of a priori sentences by saying they are
true in virtue of meaning).

Steve said in a previous message that Quine's distinction is not the
same as Carnap's, because Quine's is based on the notion of
stimulus-meaning whereas Carnap's is based on a full fledged notion of
meaning. From a Quinean point of view, however, this reasoning relies
on a notion of sameness of distinction which is just as untenable (for
the Quinean) as the notion of sameness of meaning. The sentences that
fall on under Quine's notion of analyticity are the same that fall
under Carnap's, regardless of what they mean. Carnap's distinction and
Quine's are extensionally interchangeable.

Best wishes,
--Rogério



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