Meta-Ontology, Naturalism, and the Quine-Barcan Marcus Debate

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Abstract

Twenty-first Century critics frequently misread Quinean ontological commitment as a toothless doctrine of anti-metaphysical pragmatism. Janssen-Lauret's historical investigations reveal that they misinterpret the influence of Quine's naturalism. His naturalistic view of philosophy as continuous with science informs a much more interesting conception of ontological commitments as generated by indispensable explanatory roles. But Janssen-Lauret uncovers a previously undetected weakness in Quine's meta-ontology. Careful examination of his debate with another naturalistic nominalist, Ruth Barcan Marcus, reveals that his holism leaves him blind to her acquaintance-based ontological commitment via proper names. Janssen-Lauret examines some crucial misunderstandings between Barcan Marcus and Quine, centering on their wildly different interpretations of proper names, quantification and identity, and argues that these are motivated by their diametrically opposed positions on epistemology.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationQuine and His Place in History
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan Ltd
Pages146-167
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781137472519
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2015

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