Quine on reference and quantification

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


Gary Ostertag: Quine and Russell: The chapter provides a selective overview of themes common to Russell and Quine, focusing on Russell’s theory of descriptions and the notion of contextual definition. It begins by discussing Russell and Quine on modality, along the way highlighting the following topics: how C.I. Lewis’s metalinguistic understanding of the modal operators shaped the subsequent debate about modality - in particular, how it rendered the very idea of de re modality unintelligible; how Quine’s inattention to matters of scope led him to conclude, somewhat misleadingly, that he had derived a modal paradox; how the failure of the reductionist program provided the basis for a challenge to a cornerstone of the understanding of modality - the idea of analytic truth. I then turn to Russell and Quine on the semantics of attitude reports, where the issue of scope takes center stage again. A final section discusses Russell’s influence in the shaping of Quine’s ontological criterion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationA Companion to W. V. O. Quine
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9781118607992
ISBN (Print)9780470672105
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


  • Observation sentences
  • Ontological commitment
  • Opaque context
  • Quantification
  • Regimentation


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