Quine on logic, propositional attitudes, and the unity of knowledge


  • André Leclerc Federal University of Paraíba




I shall examine Quine’s conception of logic, of propositional attitudes, and of the unity of knowledge in order to show that there are some tensions in Quine’s system. I first propose a conception of the use or application of logic, stating that logic strictly speaking applies to intentional phenomena or to things that presuppose the existence of intentional phenomena. Then, I con-sider briefly Quine’s philosophy of logic and discuss some issues. In Quine’s philosophy, logic stays at the very center of the web of our beliefs; it is cen-tral in science and ordinary knowledge as well. Then I examine Quine’s tendency to “quine” the mental, given his own maxim of minimum mutila-tion. Finally, I consider Quine’s thesis of the unity of knowledge, the thesis that there is continuity from ordinary to scientific knowledge. If I am right about the use of logic and the presence of the propositional attitude idiom in ordinary knowledge and social sciences and humanities, I think there is a problem of consistency in Quine’s system, and that Quine himself pointed to a part of the solution.