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Duhem, Quine and the other dogma

Afriat, Alexander (2008) Duhem, Quine and the other dogma. [Preprint]

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By linking meaning and analyticity (through synonymy), Quine rejects both “dogmas of empiricism” together, as “two sides of a single dubious coin.” His rejection of the second (“reductionism”) has been associated with Duhem’s argument against crucial experiments — which relies on fundamental differences, brought up again and again, between mathematics and physics. The other dogma rejected by Quine is the “cleavage between analytic and synthetic truths”; but aren’t the truths of mathematics analytic, those of physics synthetic? Exploiting Quine’s association of essences, meaning, synonymy and analyticity, and appealing to a ‘model-theoretical’ notion of abstract test derived from Duhem and Quine — which can be used to overcome their holism by separating essences from accidents — I reconsider the ‘crucial experiment,’ the aforementioned “cleavage,” and the differences Duhem attributed to mathematics and physics; and propose a characterisation of the meaning and reference of sentences, which extends, in a natural way, the distinction as it applies to words.

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Item Type: Preprint
Afriat, Alexander
Keywords: Duhem, Quine, analytic, synthetic, holism, meaning, reference
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Structure of Theories
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Depositing User: Alexander Afriat
Date Deposited: 02 Apr 2008
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 15:16
Item ID: 3967

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