According to the standard story W. V. Quine ’s criticisms of the idea that logic is true by convention are directed against, and completely undermine, Rudolf Carnap’s idea that the logical truths of a language L are the sentences of L that are true-in- L solely in virtue of the linguistic conventions for L, and Quine himself had no interest in or use for any notion of truth by convention. This paper argues that and are both false. Carnap did not (...) endorse any truth -by- convention theses that are undermined by Quine ’s technical observations. Quine knew this. Quine ’s criticisms of the thesis that logic is true by convention are not directed against a truth -by- convention thesis that Carnap actually held, but are part of Quine ’s own project of articulating the consequences of his scientific naturalism. Quine found that logic is not true by convention in any naturalistically acceptable sense. But he also observed that in set theory and other highly abstract parts of science we sometimes deliberately adopt postulates with no justification other than that they are elegant and convenient. For Quine such postulations constitute a naturalistically acceptable and fallible sort of truth by convention. It is only when an act of adopting a postulate is not indispensible to natural science that Quine sees it as affording truth by convention ‘unalloyed’. A naturalist who accepts Quine ’s notion of truth by convention is therefore not limited to accepting only those postulates that she regards as indispensible to natural science. (shrink)
Carnap, Quine, and Putnam held that in our pursuit of truth we can do no better than to start in the middle, relying on already-established beliefs and inferences and applying our best methods for re-evaluating particular beliefs and inferences and arriving at new ones. In this collection of essays, Gary Ebbs interprets these thinkers' methodological views in the light of their own philosophical commitments, and in the process refutes some widespread misunderstandings of their views, reveals the real strengths of their (...) arguments, and exposes a number of problems that they face. To solve these problems, in many of the essays Ebbs also develops new philosophical approaches, including new theories of logical truth, language use, reference and truth, truth by convention, realism, trans-theoretical terms, agreement and disagreement, radical belief revision, and contextually a priori statements. His essays will be valuable for a wide range of readers in analytic philosophy. (shrink)
In two previous papers I explained why I believe that a certain sort of argument that seems to support skepticism about self-knowledge is actually self-undermining, in the sense that no one can justifiably accept all of its premises at once. Anthony Brueckner has recently tried to show that even if the central premises of my explanation are true, the skeptical argument in question is not self-undermining. He has also suggested that even if the skeptical argument is self-undermining, it can still (...) serve as a _reductio ad absurdum of the assumption that we have self-knowledge. My goal in this paper is to explain why I think neither of these responses is successful. (shrink)
The Hilbert–Bernays Theorem establishes that for any satisfiable first-order quantificational schema S, one can write out linguistic expressions that are guaranteed to yield a true sentence of elementary arithmetic when they are substituted for the predicate letters in S. The theorem implies that if L is a consistent, fully interpreted language rich enough to express elementary arithmetic, then a schema S is valid if and only if every sentence of L that can be obtained by substituting predicates of L for (...) predicate letters in S is true. The theorem therefore licenses us to define validity substitutionally in languages rich enough to express arithmetic. The heart of the theorem is an arithmetization of Gödel's completeness proof for first-order predicate logic. Hilbert and Bernays were the first to prove that there is such an arithmetization. Kleene established a strengthened version of it, and Kreisel, Mostowski, and Putnam refined Kleene's result. Despite the later refinements, Kleene's presentation of th.. (shrink)
David Chalmers has recently argued that Bayesian conditionalization is a constraint on conceptual constancy, and that this constraint, together with “standard Bayesian considerations about evidence and updating,” is incompatible with the Quinean claim that every belief is rationally revisable. Chalmers’s argument presupposes that the sort of conceptual constancy that is relevant to Bayesian conditionalization is the same as the sort of conceptual constancy that is relevant to the claim that every belief is rationally revisable. To challenge this presupposition I explicate (...) a sort of “conceptual role” constancy that a rational subject could take to be necessary and sufficient for a rule of Bayesian conditionalization to govern her belief updating, and show that a rational subject may simultaneously commit herself to updating her beliefs in accord with such a rule and accept the claim that every belief is rationally revisable. (shrink)
In previous work I argued that skepticism about the compatibility ofanti-individualism with self-knowledge is incoherent. Anthony Brueckner isnot convinced by my argument, for reasons he has recently explained inprint. One premise in Brueckner's reasoning is that a person'sself-knowledge is confined to what she can derive solely from herfirst-person experiences of using her sentences. I argue that Brueckner'sacceptance of this premise undermines another part of his reasoning â hisattempt to justify his claims about what thoughts our sincere utterances ofcertain sentences would (...) express in various possible worlds. I describe aweird possible world in which a person who uses Brueckner's reasoning endsup with false beliefs about what thoughts her sincere utterances of certainsentences would express in various possible worlds. I recommend that wereject Brueckner's problematic conception of self-knowledge, and adopt onethat better fits the way we actually ascribe self-knowledge. (shrink)
Socializing Metaphysics supplies diverse answers to the basic questions of social metaphysics, from a broad array of voices. It will interest all philosophers and social scientists concerned with mind, action, or the foundations of social theory.
W. V. Quine thinks logical truth can be defined in purely extensional terms, as follows: a logical truth is a true sentence that exemplifies a logical form all of whose instances are true. P. F. Strawson objects that one cannot say what it is for a particular use of a sentence to exemplify a logical form without appealing to intensional notions, and hence that Quine's efforts to define logical truth in purely extensional terms cannot succeed. Quine's reply to this criticism (...) is confused in ways that have not yet been noticed in the literature. This may seem to favour Strawson's side of the debate. In fact, however, a proper analysis of the difficulties that Quine's reply faces suggests a new way to clarify and defend the view that logical truth can be defined in purely extensional terms. (shrink)
Does Carnap’s treatment of philosophical questions about existence, such as “Are there numbers?” and “Are there physical objects?”, depend on his analytic–synthetic distinction? If so, in what way? I answer these questions by clarifying, defending, and developing the reading of Carnap’s paper “Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology” that W. V. Quine proposes, with little justification or explanation, in his paper “On Carnap’s Views on Ontology”. The primary methodological value of studying Quine’s reading of “Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology” is that it prompts (...) us to look for, and helps us to see the significance of, passages by Carnap that reveal the logical foundations of his views on ontology. Guided in this way by Quine’s reading, I show that (1) in “Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology” Carnap’s preferred treatment of philosophical questions relies on paraphrasing them so that their answers are immediately obvious elementary logical truths, and are therefore, by his standards, trivially analytic; and (2) in its most general form, Carnap’s treatment of philosophical questions about existence depends on his controversial view that the analytic truths of a language L may include sentences that are not elementary logical truths, but that are nevertheless, by Carnap’s standards, analytic-in-L simply because we have stipulated that they are to be among the “meaning postulates” of L. (shrink)
Nevertheless, when we cannot specify how a statement may actually be false it has a special methodological status for us, according to Putnam—it is contextually a priori . In these circumstances, he suggests, it is epistemically reasonable for us to accept the statement without evidence and hold it immune from disconfirmation.
Hilary Putnam observes that a typical competent English speaker who cannot tell an elm tree from a beech tree may nevertheless use the word “elm” to make assertions and ask questions about elm trees. Putnam also observes that scientists may be wrong about the phenomena they investigate, while still being able to use their words to identify and raise research questions about it. This prompts him to ask what “language use” means in these contexts. He proposes two closely related methods (...) for answering this question. The first method is to investigate and clarify the uses of sentences and words in a given linguistic practice from the point of view of a participant in the practice. The second is to explain our applications of ‘is true’ and ‘refers’ to sentences and words whose uses are described in accord with the first method. In this paper I raise several problems for Putnam’s applications of these methods and sketch a different way of applying the methods that avoids the problems. (shrink)
My central goal in this paper is to interpret what Quine says in his Kant lectures about the norms of epistemology and the doctrinal and conceptual tasks of epistemology—the tasks, respectively, of constructing good theories and of clarifying meanings—in light of what he says about these topics in several of his earlier and later works. I argue that despite one puzzling passage in the Kant lectures that misleadingly suggests otherwise, the norms of Quine’s epistemology are exclusively doctrinal, not conceptual.
Language users ordinarily suppose that they know what thoughts their own utterances express. We can call this supposed knowledge minimal self-knowledge. But what does it come to? And do we actually have it? Anti-individualism implies that the thoughts which a person's utterances express are partly determined by facts about their social and physical environments. If anti-individualism is true, then there are some apparently coherent sceptical hypotheses that conflict with our supposition that we have minimal self-knowledge. In this book, Anthony Brueckner (...) and Gary Ebbs debate how to characterize this problem and develop opposing views of what it shows. Their discussion is the only sustained, in-depth debate about anti-individualism, scepticism and knowledge of one's own thoughts, and will interest both scholars and graduate students in philosophy of language, philosophy of mind and epistemology. (shrink)