25 February 2008

A nice way of putting it

I rather liked the way Quine described his contribution to empiricism in "Five Milestones of Empiricism" (p. 72 in "Theories and Things"):

The fourth move, to methodological monism, follows closely on this [Quine-Duhem] holism. Holism blurs the supposed contrast between the synthetic sentence, with its empirical content, and the analytic sentence, with its null content. The organizing role that was supposedly the role of analytic sentences is now seen as shared by sentences generally, and the empirical content that was supposedly peculiar to synthetic sentences is now seen as diffused throughout the system.

For some reason I like the phrase "methodological monism". I think it's the absence of any discussion of a method that does it for me.

I think this way of putting it makes the connection between the two parts of "Two Dogmas" clearer. The second dogma was being propped up by the first -- the dividing-up of empirical content among sentences was supposed to be handled by the analytic/synthetic distinction, with the analytic sentences providing a "framework" which could be filled in by the empirical content brought in by true synthetic sentences. Rejecting this picture (since the demarcation between framework and empirical content is arbitrary) leaves the analytic/synthetic distinction without any work to do; I take this to be why Quine says the two dogmas are "at root one".

Attempts to rehabilitate analyticity show up, in this light, as possibly being irrelevant to the "dogmas of empiricism"; analyticity which is insufficient to rehabilitate the organizing-organized dichotomy poses no threat to Quine's aims. (This would include Quine's own sense of analytic sentences in Roots of Reference, stipulative definitions, Strawson & Grice's insistence that we have at least a rough notion of analyticity on the grounds that there is in practice agreement on many cases, and McDowell's suggestion in the first afterword to Mind & World.)

(In case you were wondering, the other milestones are the shift from ideas to words, the shift from words to sentences, the shift from sentences to systems of sentences, and the abandonment of "first philosophy".)


J said...
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Daniel Lindquist said...

"(ignore or delete, bitte)"


J said...
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J said...
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J said...

"Philosophy: A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing."

(Bierce) ;)

J said...

What you and your cronies overlook is the difference between analyticity (as in semantic identity--lawyers are attorneys; attorneys are lawyers) and Big A Analyticity. That USC clown Soames sort of hints at this: if Quine means only "small a" analyticity (and not necessity and a priority as a whole); OK TDOE seems accurate--definitions of terms (meanings) change. If he means to suggest everything traditionally covered by Big A Analyticity (as in axioms such as LONC and LOEM, as well as argument forms such as Modus Ponens, logical connectives, etc) is really synthetic a posteriori, that's a far stronger and more troubling claim (tho' still connected to verificationism, and one might say nominalism).

(you yourself claimed as much when pointing out Kant's schema, which holds necessity/a priority/analyticity to be synonymous, at least roughly). Yet let's hear a constructive proof or naturalist account of how humans learn about logical connectives via observation, or stimulus-, etc. (it may be that, but that becomes a type of cognitive issue which philooophers are not generally ready to deal with)

Bada - bing!