Quine’s Ding an sich: Proxies, Structure, and Naturalism

In Robert Sinclair (ed.), Science and Sensibilia by W. V. Quine: The 1980 Immanuel Kant Lectures. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan (2019)
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In the fourth Immanuel Kant Lecture, Quine summons the specter of Kant’s Ding an sich, the thing in itself. Clearly antithetical to his naturalism, Quine quickly dismisses it as having feet of clay. Despite this short shrift, it is worth examining what he did say about the Ding an sich—in the Kant Lectures, in “Things and Their Place in Theories”, and in “Structure and Nature”. I offer a critical reading of these passages in the context of Quine’s proxy functions, ontological relativity, and structure. I argue that Quine uses the Ding an sich as a foil for his anti-metaphysical, deflationary structuralism—a view that grounds objectivity in true statements, without any transcendental notion of objects, without the Ding an sich.



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Paul Gregory
Washington and Lee University

Citations of this work

Quine’s conflicts with truth deflationism.Teemu Tauriainen - 2022 - Asian Journal of Philosophy 1 (46):1-25.
Ontological Indifference of Theories and Semantic Primacy of Sentences.Dirk Greimann - 2021 - Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 35 (2):167-190.

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