Quine on Objects: Realism or Anti-Realism?

Theoria 78 (2):128-145 (2012)
  Copy   BIBTEX


W. V. Quine describes himself as a “robust realist” about physical objects in the external world. This realism about objects is due to Quine's naturalism. On the other hand, Quine's naturalistic epistemology involves a conception of objects as posits that we introduce in our theories about the world. This conception of objects can be seen as anti-realist rather than realist. In this article, I discuss the questions whether there is a tension between Quine's realism and his epistemological conception of objects, and how Quine's conception of objects should be understood if he is also to be regarded as a realist. I also address the question whether Quine should be placed on the realist or the anti-realist side of the current realism debate. I argue that Quine's conception of objects as posits is a general account of the nature of objects, and that this account does not conflict with Quine's realism as long as this realism is properly understood. I also argue that Quine cannot be placed on either side of the contemporary realism debate, since his realism is not metaphysical realism and his conception of objects is not an anti-realist doctrine according to which objects would be less than real



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 86,441

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Truthmakers, the past, and the future.Josh Parsons - 2005 - In Helen Beebee & Julian Dodd (eds.), Truthmakers: The Contemporary Debate. Clarendon Press.
Questions of the objects of knowledge and types of realism.Władysław Krajewski - 1992 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 6 (3):205-213.
Semantic indeterminacy and the realist stance.Ron Wilburn - 1992 - Erkenntnis 37 (3):281 - 308.
Putnam, realism and truth.Janet Folina - 1995 - Synthese 103 (2):141--52.
A Truthmaking Account of Realism and Anti-Realism.Jamin Asay - 2012 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 93 (3):373-394.
Truthmaking, Metaethics, and Creeping Minimalism.Jamin Asay - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 163 (1):213-232.
Aesthetic realism and emotional qualities of music.Malcolm Budd - 2005 - British Journal of Aesthetics 45 (2):111-122.
Conventionalism and realism-imitating counterfactuals.Crawford L. Elder - 2006 - Philosophical Quarterly 56 (222):1–15.


Added to PP

192 (#85,613)

6 months
8 (#128,225)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Antti Keskinen
Tampere University

Citations of this work

Realism, Common Sense, and Science.Mario De Caro - 2015 - The Monist 98 (2):197-214.
Quine's Scientific Realism Revisited.Raimund Pils - 2020 - Theoria 86 (5):612-642.
Quine on Objects and De Re Modality.Antti Keskinen - 2012 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 8 (2):4-17.
From Shared Stimuli to Preestablished Harmony: The Development of Quine’s Thinking on Intersubjectivity and Objective Validity.Reto Gubelmann - 2019 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 9 (2):343-370.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Word and Object.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1960 - Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
Theories and things.W. V. Quine (ed.) - 1981 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Pursuit of truth.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1990 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
The seas of language.Michael Dummett - 1993 - New York: Oxford University Press.

View all 23 references / Add more references