• Isaac
    2k
    So you point to the word "blurring" and mention of a knowledge spectrum from particular to abstract. And further, you note that Quine seemed to understand some difference between science and philosophy, and therefore you conclude that Two Dogmas is about matters of degree of difference between analytic and synthetic statements.frank

    Since when were we determining what Two Dogmas is "about"? I merely made the claim that Quine makes a distinction betweenpphilosophy and science and that he does so as a matter of degree. I never claimed it was the core message of his whole thesis. In fact I made specific note of the fact that this was not the main thrust of his work....

    I realise the main importance of Quine is the extent to which he declares no difference (no difference in type), but here I'm referring to the difference he does acknowledge, the difference in degree.Isaac

    ... so why you would now think I'm making the exact opposite claim (that this is what Two Dogmas is all about) is beyond me.
  • frank
    4.2k
    I said that Quine makes no room for degrees in his dismissal of the analytic/synthetic divide. You seemed to disagree and treat my statement as a claim that needed backing.

    I knew you didn't mean to say something that ridiculous. :up:
  • fdrake
    3.2k
    I said that Quine makes no room for degrees in his dismissal of the analytic/synthetic divide.frank

    Rejecting (by undermining) the analytic/synthetic divide was a major part of Quine's disagreement with the logical positivists, spelled out in Two Dogmas. Quine makes reference to Carnap regarding the role this rejection plays in putting the questions of metaphysics on a level playing field with those of natural sciences.

    Consider the question whether to countenance classes as entities. This, as I have argued
    elsewhere,10a21b is the question whether to quantify with respect to variables which take classes as values. Now Carnap ["Empiricism, semantics, and ontology," Revue internationale de philosophie 4 (1950), 20-40.] has maintained11a that this is a question not of matters of fact but of choosing a convenient language form, a convenient conceptual scheme or framework for science. With this I agree, but only on the proviso that the same be conceded regarding scientific hypotheses generally. Carnap has recognized12a that he is able to preserve a double standard for ontological questions and scientific hypotheses only by assuming an absolute distinction between the analytic and the synthetic; and I need not say again that this is a distinction which I reject.

    Quine strongly rejecting the analytic/synthetic distinction and thus the (alleged) derived sharp divide between science and philosophy in Carnap's work does not immediately suggest that Quine advances a sharp divide between science and philosophy in Two Dogmas. Nor that he derives anything about the relationship of various sciences from this rejection.

    The overall picture is that knowledge is a network of claims about posited entities related by links of logic and reason (that the links take a particular form in a particular network part is also part of what is posited), and only the exterior of this network need interface with our experiences by means of observation processes. The picture of ontology tracks the picture of what we know; what we stipulate to exist relates to our experiences sensorially and through observation and what else we stipulate to exist through propagating inferences. Despite this, epistemology and ontology remain distinct topics of inquiry. The work of epistemology consists of spelling out how entities are connected within the network: what the connections mean, how they are formed and their character; the work of ontology consists of furnishing the entities within the network with a general description technique in which they may be unambiguously expressed, and thereby delineating what form our ontological commitments take given our knowledge.
    *
    Though Quine doesn't set out his visions for what epistemology and metaphysics are in general in Two Dogmas.


    The totality of our so-called knowledge or beliefs, from the most casual matters of geography and history to the profoundest laws of atomic physics or even of pure mathematics and logic, is a manmade fabric which impinges on experience only along the edges. Or, to change the figure, total science is like a field of force whose boundary conditions are experience. A conflict with experience at the periphery occasions readjustments in the interior of the field. Truth values have to be redistributed over some of our statements. Re-evaluation of some statements entails re-evaluation of others, because of their logical interconnections -- the logical laws being in turn simply certain further statements of the system, certain further elements of the field. Having re-evaluated one statement we must re-evaluate some others, whether they be statements logically connected with the first or whether they be the statements of logical connections themselves. — Two Dogmas

    But the total field is so undetermined by its boundary conditions, experience, that there is much latitude of choice as to what statements to re-evaluate in the light of any single contrary experience. No particular experiences are linked with any particular statements in the interior of the field, except indirectly through considerations of equilibrium affecting the field as a whole

    In this regard, knowledge is web weaved of different fabrics supporting each other; stipulated entities within the web play the same role insofar as they function within the web in the same manner. Because of this, the web has ambiguous constituents and ambiguous propagation of effects from observation. Collections of stipulations which play the same explanatory role and interface with the web's periphery of observation in the same way may exist, and moreover if there is an observation which is startlingly inconsistent with our knowledge, a range of re-evaluations of what we know will be possible to bring our knowledge into accord with this startling observation.

    The overall role ontological commitments play here is a matter of efficiently coordinating our knowledge. They're like condensation nuclei for clouds of knowledge.

    Positing does not stop with macroscopic physical objects. Objects at the atomic level and beyond are posited to make the laws of macroscopic objects, and ultimately the laws of experience, simpler and more manageable; and we need not expect or demand full definition of atomic and subatomic entities in terms of macroscopic ones, any more than definition of macroscopic things in terms of sense data. Science is a continuation of common sense, and it continues the common-sense expedient of swelling ontology to simplify theory.

    The difference between fields of inquiry becomes blurred, as often there are overlaps in what entities they are connected to, though observations related to one field may be more distantly connected to those in another, and a re-evaluation through startling observation may get to work on near connected knowledge items to the observation process rather than ones situated further from it.

    In light of Two Dogmas, it looks more plausible that differences between science and philosophy are differences in degree, as they're extremely interconnected parts of the same network (as Quine sees them). Nevertheless, there's some hint of an abstraction hierarchy involved; if we posit that some fields of study are more closely connected to and thereby more tightly constrained by the observational exterior of the network, the perceived increase in rigour by being close to this observational exterior may be concordant with an idea of tighter constraints on the number of theories consistent with those observations; in other words, for example, developmental psychology may be more underdetermined by observation than materials science. Having more varied ontological commitments and general theories consistent with the same observations may give a flavour of arbitrarity to a domain of study. But I don't think any of this necessarily follows from the paper alone.
  • Isaac
    2k
    I said that Quine makes no room for degrees in his dismissal of the analytic/synthetic divide. You seemed to disagree and treat my statement as a claim that needed backing.frank

    Ahh, I see. I'm sorry if this confusion was caused by any lack of clarity on my part. You're talking about Quine's rejection of analycity whilst I'm talking about the way in which a difference between philosophy and science remains despite that rejection. I'm saying that without the analytic/synthetic divide, the difference between posits of philosophy and posits of science is the inter-subjectivity of measures of veracity. Science deals with correspondence with observation (something we largely agree upon, especially when done by machine), whereas philosophy's veracity (for Quine) is measured by the degree to which posits satisfactorily fit within the web of beliefs (something on which we do not all generally agree - opinion).

    But I should make clear that talking about 'philosophy' in general here is a very broad definition necessitated by the topic of the thread (and Artemis's comment about it, to which I responded). I wouldn't personally paint the whole subject with the same brush, as it were, because some aspects clearly play different roles in the web than others.

    Hope that's clearer.
  • frank
    4.2k
    Science deals with correspondence with observation (something we largely agree upon, especially when done by machine), whereas philosophy's veracity (for Quine) is measured by the degree to which posits satisfactorily fit within the web of beliefs (something on which we do not all generally agree - opinion).Isaac

    How does correspondence survive Quine's Word and Object?

    Since Quine was a behaviorist, I think we enter into a shadow-world of equivocation when we talk about his view of whatever. For Quine, we don't communicate in the ordinary sense of the word. Further, there's a breakdown in the the concept of "ordinary sense."

    Sense is like a myth we attach to various happenings between ourselves. Is this also how you see Quine?


    Thanks
  • Isaac
    2k
    How does correspondence survive Quine's Word and Object?frank

    That's a very big topic. Have you read The Web of Belief? It has a really good section on how Quine treats observations as observations sentences and so brings them into his behaviourist stance on beliefs. The full text might answer your question better than my one sentence, but I don't want to get into if you have read the essay but just don't find it to be an answer.
  • Wittgenstein
    316

    I think philosophy can be seen as too primitive in some cases. It is obviously sophisticated depending on the thought process that goes into answering certain questions. It is primitive because it forces us to ask some questions that will be taken as a joke in our daily interaction. I can't even begin to imagine getting a serious answer from someone in the street if l ask him whether l exist or not. The moral questions will be received slightly positively but there are certain exceptions to this category too. Asking a random person whether moral statements can be even be called true or false will raise eyebrows.

    It takes a certain amount of humbleness to engage in philosophy and also a feeling for wasting time. Wasting time is a big deal for people who can't bother thinking beyond what is neccessary to live an easy life. People just like getting things done and philosophy is more of an exploration.
  • frank
    4.2k
    That's a very big topic. Have you read The Web of Belief? It has a really good section on how Quine treats observations as observations sentences and so brings them into his behaviourist stance on beliefs.Isaac

    I think we'll part ways here. I think we have the same impression of one another: "You're not understanding Quine."

    Yet neither of us is invested enough to set out the details.

    Adios.
  • Isaac
    2k


    Well, if you like. I don't think you don't understand Quine, I'm not even sure yet what your understanding of Quine is. You said he rejects analycity which I agree with, I haven't really had much else to go on. But since this thread is supposed to be about what non-philosohers think of philosophy, perhaps a full blown exposition of each other's understanding of Quine is not appropriate.
  • frank
    4.2k
    You said he rejects analycityIsaac

    No, I didn't.

    But since this thread is supposed to be about what non-philosohers think of philosophy, perhaps a full blown exposition of each other's understanding of Quine is not appropriate.Isaac

    :up:
  • Arne
    515
    I suspect most people don't.
  • Arne
    515
    It can't matter (much) what they think of those of us who 'think about thinking' if they themselves don't also 'think about thinking'.180 Proof

    I like that.
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