Quine: Before and after the commitment to naturalism

Kirkwood, Nathan Daniel Haining (2020) Quine: Before and after the commitment to naturalism. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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There is little in Quine’s philosophy that is more significant and more puzzling than his commitment to naturalism. On the one hand, naturalism seems to play an unparalleled role in explaining the development and unorthodox nature of Quine’s views. On the other hand, however, naturalism is deeply elusive. Not only is there disagreement amongst commentators about how to understand the nature and development of naturalism, but also Quine’s own characterisations of naturalism are often thinly sketched and leave us with few clues as to how we should understand naturalism and its origins. In light of these reasons, it is a significant challenge to arrive at an accurate picture of what naturalism amounts to and how it fits into Quine’s philosophical development.

The purpose of this thesis is to provide an analysis of Quine’s commitment to naturalism, and to highlight the ways in which this analysis illuminates the surrounding landscape of his philosophical views. Here, I endeavour to show that careful analysis into what Quine’s commitment to naturalism amounts to establishes that this commitment is not as longstanding as is often thought. More specifically, I argue that Quine is not committed to naturalism until shortly after ‘Two Dogmas of Empiricism’, and this reveals that Quine’s philosophical work cannot be felicitously understood as revolving around a stable commitment to naturalism. Having established this, I then explain the ways in which this analysis informs a thorough interpretation of several vital aspects of his thought, such as the development of his attitude towards analyticity, and his sustained commitment to empiricism. I believe that these findings motivate and lay the foundations of a cautious and appropriately nuanced understanding of Quine.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Quine, naturalism, history of analytic philosophy, W.V. Quine.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > Philosophy
Funder's Name: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Supervisor's Name: Kemp, Dr. Gary and Adam, Dr. Rieger
Date of Award: 2020
Depositing User: Mr Nathan D H Kirkwood
Unique ID: glathesis:2020-81792
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2020 10:29
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2022 09:01
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.81792
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/81792

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