A Summary of Quine's Problems with Carnap's Philosophy

Topics: Logic, Analytic philosophy, Philosophy Pages: 2 (626 words) Published: March 20, 2004
In his Two Dogmas of Empiricism, Quine addresses what he views as problematic claims made by Carnap. The first problem Quine has with Carnap's epistemology is about his definition of state-descriptions. The problem is in two parts: first Quine says that Carnap's version of analyticity is conditional, because it requires atomic sentences in a language to be mutually independent. The second part of the problem is that, Carnap's attempt to explore analyticity by way of his state-descriptions results in a problematic definition of analyticity, which ends up being more indicative of logical truth. In conclusion, Quine presents a solution to his problems with Carnap positing that the boundary between synthetic and analytic is imagined.

In his attempt to define analyticity Quine encounters a problematic attempt at defining the term, by Carnap. Carnap "has tended to explain analyticity by appeal to what he calls state-descriptions"(195). Carnap's state-descriptions are problematic for two reasons; one reason is that "a statement is ... explained as analytic when it comes out true under every state description"(195), this necessitates every atomic sentence to be mutually independent- meaning that two statements that mean the same thing are supposed to exist as two completely separate meanings. However, as Quine points out this would mean "there would be a state-description which assigned truth to 'John is a bachelor' and falsity to 'John is married', and consequently 'All bachelors are married' would turn out synthetic rather than analytic under the proposed criterion"(195). This truth gives rise to the second problem of Carnap's state-descriptions, that analyticity as it refers to state-descriptions only works for languages that do not contain synonymous words such as bachelor and unmarried. So, Quine submits that Carnap's state-descriptions are indicative of logical truth, not of analyticity.

To generalize, these problems that Quine has with Carnap's philosophical...
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