Metaontological Deflationism in the Aftermath of the Quine-Carnap Debate

Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 29 (2):33-52 (2015)
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Abstract

With metaphysical philosophy gaining prominence in the aftermath of the Quine-Carnap debate, not only has it become assumed that the Quinean critique leaves ontological pluralism behind as an untenable approach, but also that the same is true of deflationism more generally. Building on Quine’s criticisms against the analytic-synthetic distinction and the notion of quantifier variance, contemporary metaphysicians like van Inwagen and Sider continue to argue for the untenability of deflationary approaches to metaontology. In this paper I will argue that Quine’s criticisms do not provide sufficient grounds for revitalizing metaphysics, as the aforementioned metaphysicians conceive them as doing, and that they also don’t eliminate all hope for Carnapian pluralism. Furthermore, Carnap’s initial position may even yield the most promising route for the pluralistically inclined. Moreover, pluralism is often conceived as being equivalent with the narrower notion of quantifier variance, often associated with Hirsch and Putnam. As this notion often is attributed not only to Carnap and other pluralists, but also is taken to be an essential feature of deflationism, explicating how their merits in fact don’t necessarily coincide with those of quantifier variance will clarify matters. I will conclude by noting how neither pluralism nor deflationism is committed to quantifier variance, and thus how arguments against the latter don’t entail a refutation of the former.

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Jonathan Egeland
University of Agder

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References found in this work

Two Dogmas of Empiricism.W. Quine - 1951 - [Longmans, Green].
Two Dogmas of Empiricism.Willard V. O. Quine - 1951 - Philosophical Review 60 (1):20–43.
Ontology Made Easy.Amie Lynn Thomasson - 2014 - New York: Oup Usa.
Two Dogmas of Empiricism.W. V. O. Quine - 2011 - In Robert B. Talisse & Scott F. Aikin (eds.), The Pragmatism Reader: From Peirce Through the Present. Princeton University Press. pp. 202-220.

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