Defending Quine on Ontological Commitment
In this paper I defend a Quinean view on ontological commitment against some recent challenges. I outline the virtues and limitations of the Quinean approach before considering two different theories. Thomas Hofweber argues that commitment in natural language is ambiguous and that Quine’s canonical notation is incapable of representing the two functions of natural language quantifiers. Truthmaker theorists argue that Quine’s approach is based on a fallacious view of the relation between true sentences and the truthmaking domain (the world). In response I argue that both objections are aimed at a particularly strong version of the Quinean approach, and that rather than abandon it we can use these challenges to understand its true value.
KeywordsNatural Language Ontological Commitment Composite Object True Sentence Truthmaker Theorist
I owe great thanks to Colin Cheyne for his time and patience in helping me to develop and express the views in this paper.
- Dyke, H. 2008. Metaphysics and the representational fallacy. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Haack, S. 1978. The philosophy of logics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Heil, J. 2005. From an ontological point of view. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Macdonald, C. 2005. Varieties of things: Foundations of contemporary metaphysics. Malden: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Quine, W. 1961. On what there is. In From a logical point of view, 2nd ed. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar