Quine’s meaning Holisms

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Abstract

Quine’s [historic[ importance does … depend upon his being right in one central claim, a claim which he expressed by saying that there is no sensible distinction between analytic and synthetic truths but which he should have expressed by saying that there is no sensible distinction between a priori and a posteriori truths. Putnam 1983 Erasing the line between the analytic and the synthetic saved philosophy of language as a serious subject by showing how it could be pursued without what there cannot be: Determinate meanings. Davidson 1986 Quine’s writings are the point of departure for the familiar doctrine that goes by the name 'meaning holism'. This doctrine contrasts with meaning atomism, according to which a linguistic expression e in a language L has its meaning 'Auf Eigene Faust' (viz., in and by itself) by virtue of a symbol-world relation independent of, and (metaphysically) prior to, whatever role e has in L. For meaning atomism, reference (however specified), then, is primitive, and the role of e in L is determined by, and derivative from, the meaning e acquires in virtue of that relation. In opposition, according to meaning holism, a linguistic expression e in a language L has its meaning in virtue of its (however specified) relations with other expressions in L; that is, in virtue of its role in L. For meaning holism, since the role of e in L constitutes e’s meaning, reference becomes derivative from, and (metaphysically) posterior to, the role e plays in L.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Companion to Quine
PublisherCambridge University Press
Pages65-90
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9781139000505
ISBN (Print)0521630568, 9780521630566
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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