Quine and Ontology
AbstractOntology played a very large role in Quine’s philosophy and was one of his major preoccupations from the early 30’s to the end of his life. His work on ontology provided a basic framework for most of the discussions of ontology in analytic philosophy in the second half of the Twentieth Century. There are three main themes (and several sub-themes) that Quine developed in his work. The first is ontological commitment: What are the existential com-mitments of a theory? The second is ontological reduction: How can an on-tology be reduced to (or substituted by) another? And what is the most eco-nomical ontology that can be obtained for certain given purposes? The third is criteria of identity: When are entities of some kind (sets, properties, mate-rial objects, propositions, meanings, etc.) the same or different? In this paper I discuss Quine’s development of these three themes and some of the prob-lems that were raised in connection with his work.
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