Resolving Quine's Confict: A Neo-Quinean View of the Rational Revisability of Logic


  • Amanda Bryant CUNY Graduate Center



There is an apparent conflict in Quine’s work between, on the one hand, his clear commitment to the rational revisability of logic and, on the other, his principle of charitable translation and ‘change of logic, change of subject’ argument. I argue that the apparent conflict is mostly resolved under close exegesis, but that the translation argument normatively rules out collaborative revision and allows only revision by individuals. However, I articulate a Neo-Quinean view that preserves the rational acceptability of collaborative revision. On that view, everything is rationally revisable in some manner or other — it’s just that the logical principles that laypersons find (actually or potentially) obvious and tacitly use to govern their everyday inferences can’t be rationally revised quickly and all at once. Since, in Quine’s view, what most people find obvious resists change, rational changes to laymen’s logic must be gradual.


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