Carnapian frameworks

Synthese 199 (1-2):4097-4126 (2021)
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Carnap’s seminal ‘Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology’ makes important use of the notion of a framework and the related distinction between internal and external questions. But what exactly is a framework? And what role does the internal/external distinction play in Carnap’s metaontology? In an influential series of papers, Matti Eklund has recently defended a bracingly straightforward interpretation: A Carnapian framework, Eklund says, is just a natural language. To ask an internal question, then, is just to ask a question in, say, English. To try to ask an external question is to try, absurdly, to ask a question in no language at all. Finding that so trivial an I/e distinction can’t help to explain Carnap’s deflationary metaontology, Eklund is led to attribute to Carnap a view he calls ontological pluralism. In this paper, I show that Eklund misreads Carnap, and I argue that this misreading obscures fundamental features of Carnap’s philosophy. I then defend an account of frameworks as what Carnap called semantical systems, and I place this account in the context of Carnap’s philosophical program of explication. Finally, I discuss the role that frameworks and the I/e distinction play in ESO, showing that ESO provides no reason to attribute the doctrine of ontological pluralism to Carnap.



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Gabe Broughton
Princeton University

References found in this work

Word and Object.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1960 - Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
Two Dogmas of Empiricism.W. Quine - 1951 - [Longmans, Green].
Logical foundations of probability.Rudolf Carnap - 1950 - Chicago]: Chicago University of Chicago Press.
Two Dogmas of Empiricism.Willard V. O. Quine - 1951 - Philosophical Review 60 (1):20–43.
Meaning and Necessity: A Study in Semantics and Modal Logic.Rudolf Carnap - 1947 - Chicago, IL, USA: University of Chicago Press.

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