Quine on Carnap and Analyticity - Issues
Overview
A discussion of the issues at stake in the dialogue between Carnap and Quine.

Carnap's philosophy evolved very considerable over the course of his career, but he had a sense of purpose which remained stable throughout. We may call this his "mission". The debate with Quine principally featured a small number of topics which were fundamental to that mission, and the general perception that Quine's critiques were well founded and decisive therefore carried with it a near universal perception that Carnap's philosopy, logical positivism, had been decisively refuted.

The discussion here presents the big picture first, and then identifies the few more specific areas of controversy which were instrumental in Quine's assault.

Carnap's Mission and his Conception of Philosophy

Carnap's central mission was inspired by Bertrand Russell's conception of a scientific philosophy based on the advances in logic to which Frege and Russell had made major contributions.

The idea was that philosophy could be made rigorous by adopting these new methods and confining itself to logical analysis, so that the theorems of philosophy became, like those of mathematics, theorems of applied logic.

As an essential preliminary to rendering philosophical reasoning rigorously deductive it would be necessary to provide for precision in the articulation of philosophical problems through aoption formal languages, in the process of which many problems previously thought to be philosophical would be shown to be either problems belonging to empirical science, or to be incapable of being made definite.

The purpose of philosophy would be to aid and abet empirical science in ways similar to those in which Principia Mathematica had provided a model for the development of mathematics using the new methods, i.e. by developing formal languages suitable for use in science, thus clarifying scientific concepts and providing for rigorous reasoning in the context of scientific theories.

Carnap's mission also embraced the use of inductive reasoning in science, but we will not be concerned here with that side of Carnap's work, the debate between him and Carnap can be understood pretty well if we think of Carnap's work as having been concerned principally with the application of the new deductive logic to philosophy and science.

Issues
Logical Truth
The analytic/synthetic dichotomy
Modal Logic
Ontology and Metaphysics


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