Defending Quine on Ontological Commitment

  • Emily GillEmail author
Part of the Studies in History and Philosophy of Science book series (AUST, volume 28)


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.


Natural Language Ontological Commitment Composite Object True Sentence Truthmaker Theorist 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I owe great thanks to Colin Cheyne for his time and patience in helping me to develop and express the views in this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

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