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I wonder how far Quine thought the paper didn't go beyond attacks on the analytic/synthetic distinction made by Goodman and White (in distinct papers, but presented at the same conference/workshop) in 1949, and so before "Two Dogmas". (I'll admit to finding the critics in those papers clearer and better than Quine's, but it's been a long time since I've read any of them.) He's thanked in those papers. Does he mention them at all in the notes discussed? (My copy of FALPV is too far for me to access right now.)

Jim Gillespie

Matt: Quine cites White at the very end of "Two Dogmas." The note is to the following sentence: "Carnap has recognized that he is able to preserve a double standard for ontological questions and scientific hypotheses only by assuming an absolute distinction between the analytic and the synthetic; and I need not say again that this is a distinction which I reject." The note (on p. 46 of FALPOV) itself reads: "For an effective expression of further misgivings over this distinction, see White."

Sander Verhaegh

This is from the preface of FLPV: "The critique of analyticity to which "Two dogmas" is in large part devoted is an outcome of informal discussions, oral and written, in which I have engaged from 1939 onward with Professors Carnap, Alonzo Church, Nelson Goodman, Alfred Tarski, and Morton White; to them I am indebted certainly for stimulation of the essay, and probably for content".

There is some evidence that suggests that Quine's believed that his position differed from Goodman's. In an unpublished letter to Goodman from 1949 (written about 20 months after the famous triangular correspondence between Quine, Goodman, and White), Quine introduces the term 'asemiotism' and defines it as "the doctrine that no coherent notions of meaning, analyticity, etc. are to be hoped for". He then claims that Goodman is a staunch proponent of asemiotism and defines his own position as follows: "While I do not identify myself with asemiotism, I must concede it a certain plausibility". If this is still Quine's position in 1951 (in my book I argue that this is the case), then Quine's argument seems weaker than Goodman's: he does not say that there is *no* acceptable definition of analyticity, he only claims that existing accounts do not satisfy the empiricists' standards. Indeed, Quine himself eventually found an empirically satisfying definition in *The Roots of Reference* (even though that definition is "no such radical cleavage between analytic and synthetic sentences as was called for by Carnap")

Matt Carlson

Very interesting post, Sander! I especially liked the anecdote from 1968, in which Quine remarked that the idea of section 6 of "Two Dogmas" was too metaphorical even to discuss. I think you're definitely right that Quine was never satisfied by "Two Dogmas", especially the metaphors he gives in the final section. But I think it's also interesting that he never seemed to be able to give those metaphors up, either. I think the reason for this is that he realized that the genetic account that he develops in the 50s and 60s doesn't clearly capture the idea of the metaphor. Yes, it is more empirically respectable, but in particular it doesn't satisfactorily explain why we are so reluctant to revise logic and mathematics in the face of "recalcitrant experience". (Shameless self-promotion: I defend this view in my paper, "Logic and the Structure of the Web of Belief" in JHAP, 2015.)

To be clear: I don't think I'm disagreeing with Sander here. I agree that Quine was never satisfied with his metaphors at the end of "Two Dogmas". I'm just pointing out that he was never satisfied with his attempts to replace them, either.


Thanks for the extra information, Jim and Sander - I appreciate it.

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