Journal of Applied Logic 10 (3):238-249 (2012)

Roberta Ballarin
University of British Columbia
In this paper, I reconstruct Quine’s arguments against quantified modal logic, from the early 1940’s to the early 1960’s. Quine’s concerns were not technical. Quine was looking for a coherent interpretation of quantified-in English modal sentences. I argue that Quine’s main thesis is that the intended objectual interpretation of the quantifiers is incompatible with any semantic reading of the modal operators, for example as expressing analytic necessity, unless the entities in the domain of quantification are intensions, i.e. definitional entities. The difficulty is that it makes no sense to say of an ordinary object that it bears a property necessarily or contingently when the necessity or contingency in question is analytic. However, starting in 1960, Quine claims that quantified-in modal sentences can be coherently interpreted only as essentialist predications. When we say about an object that it necessarily F ’s, we can only coherently mean that it essentially F ’s. In the paper, I argue that adequately qualified the thesis is plausible. Two important qualifications are needed. The first is the assumption that satisfaction is an irreducibly predicative notion, making any explication of satisfaction in terms of truth inadequate. The second is the ontological rejection of purely semantic, i.e. merely definitional, entities. With these qualifications in place, Quine’s rejection of the combination of objectual quantifiers and semantic modalities can be upheld. In this way, we vindicate a qualified version of Quine’s conjecture that quantified modal logic is committed to essentialism.
Keywords Analyticity  Essentialism  Intensional logic  Modal logic  Quantification  Quine  Satisfaction  Truth
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DOI 10.1016/j.jal.2012.04.001
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References found in this work BETA

Three Grades of Modal Involvment.W. V. O. Quine - 1953 - Proceedings of the XIth International Congress of Philosophy 14:65-81.
Modalities and Quantification.Rudolf Carnap - 1946 - Journal of Symbolic Logic 11 (2):33-64.
Notes on Existence and Necessity.Willard V. Quine - 1943 - Journal of Philosophy 40 (5):113-127.
Modality and Description.Arthur Smullyan - 1948 - Journal of Symbolic Logic 13 (1):31-37.
Reply to Professor Marcus.W. V. Quine - 1961 - Synthese 13 (4):323 - 330.

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Citations of this work BETA

Opacity and the Double Life of Singular Propositions.Roberta Ballarin - 2012 - Journal of Applied Logic 10 (3):250-259.

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