Full Text

56. Quine


Subject Philosophy

People Quine, Willard

Key-Topics science

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631230205.2001.00059.x


Willard Van Orman Quine was born on 25 June 1908 in Akron, Ohio. For many years he was a professor of philosophy at Harvard University and is now emeritus. To some extent his views are connected with the American pragmatist tradition, but a more important influence comes from the empiricist tradition and, in particular, from the logical positivism of the Vienna Circle (see logical positivism ). Quine has always remained faithful to the spirit of empiricism, but he has also criticized and revised the empiricist doctrine in important ways. He has published 20 books and numerous articles, and he is perhaps the most influential analytical philosopher of the second half of the twentieth century. A basic element in Quine's philosophy of science is his idea of a naturalized epistemology (see naturalism ). Naturalism is the view that science is the only means we have of finding out the truth about the world. The aim of traditional epistemology was to defend science against skeptical doubts by showing how it can be derived from a secure foundation - for example, from clear and distinct ideas (rationalism) or from immediate sensory evidence (empiricism). This idea of a “first philosophy” - of a discipline which is different from and methodologically prior to science - is rejected by Quine. Traditional epistemology has been unsuccessful so far, and Quine believes that it cannot possibly ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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