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Carnap, Quine, Quantification and Ontology

  • Gregory LaversEmail author
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 373)

Abstract

At the time of The Logical Syntax of Language (Syntax), Quine was, in his own words, a disciple of Carnap’s who read this work page by page as it issued from Ina Carnap’s typewriter. The present paper will show that there were serious problems with how Syntax dealt with ontological claims. These problems were especially pronounced when Carnap attempted to deal with higher order quantification. Carnap, at the time, viewed all talk of reference as being part of the misleading material mode of speech, and as such dismissed, rather than addressed, ontological problems. Central to the analysis in the present paper is the concept of an explication, which was seen by both Carnap and Quine as being of great philosophical importance. It will be shown that the concept of explication played a significant role in how each formulated their mature position on ontology. Both these final positions on ontology can also be seen as a evolving in reaction to Carnap’s flawed handling of ontological matters at the time of Syntax. Carnap, influenced by Tarski’s work on semantics, comes to believe that the concept of reference can be given an acceptable explication, and that by doing so we can see reference to abstract objects as unobjectionable. As a result, Carnap develops a position very different from the one presented in Syntax. Quine strongly rejected the instrumentalism of Syntax, and sought to give an explication of ontological questions that was language independent. This paper closes with a discussion of each’s understanding of the other’s position.

Keywords

Object Language Logical Truth Ontological Question Linguistic Framework Good Scientific Theory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgements

“I would like to thank Eliot Michaelson for reading a draft of this paper and offering comments. I would also like to thank Richard Creath for helping on one particular point.”

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyConcordia UniversityMontrealCanada

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