Quine on Doing Without Meaning

Anthony Quinton

in Of Men and Manners

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199694556
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731938 | DOI:
Quine on Doing Without Meaning

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  • History of Western Philosophy


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Quine's ‘Two Dogmas of Empiricism’ and ‘The Problem of Meaning in Linguistics’ treated meaning in a sceptical, dismissive fashion, in very much the same way that analytic philosophers themselves had relied on the notion of meaning to dispel the pretensions of metaphysics. In ‘Two Dogmas’ the topic of meaning is approached indirectly, by way of criticism of the analytic/synthetic distinction, in the first instance. Analytic truths are those that can be reduced with the aid of definitions to truths of logic. What, Quine enquired, are the criteria of synonymy implied by the claim of such definitions to correctness? In ‘Meaning in Linguistics’ the thesis of ‘Two Dogmas’ that ‘meanings themselves, as obscure intermediary entities, may well be abandoned’ is developed further. This chapter raises a number of questions about details in the complex fabric of Quine's arguments in order to draw attention to what seems to be unfinished business or holes that need to be stopped.

Keywords: meaning; synonymy; significance; Two Dogmas of Empiricism; linguistics

Chapter.  8056 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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