Quine's ‘needlessly strong’ holism

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Abstract
Quine is routinely perceived as having changed his mind about the scope of the Duhem-Quine thesis, shifting from what has been called an 'extreme holism' to a more moderate view. Where the Quine of 'Two Dogmas of Empiricism' argues that “the unit of empirical significance is the whole of science” (1951, 42), the later Quine seems to back away from this “needlessly strong statement of holism” (1991, 393). In this paper, I show that the received view is incorrect. I distinguish three ways in which Quine's early holism can be said to be wide-scoped and show that he has never changed his mind about any one of these aspects of his early view. Instead, I argue that Quine's apparent change of mind can be explained away as a mere shift of emphasis.
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Archival date: 2017-10-17
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Two Dogmas of Empiricism.Quine, Willard V. O.

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2017-01-29

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