Four shared commitments of Rudolph Carnap,
W.V. Quine and Hilary Putnam (G. Ebbs and S. Verhaegh)
below comes from Sander Verhaegh’s book review of
Gary Ebbs’ book Carnap, Quine, and Putnam on Methods of Inquiry.
Ebbs’ rejects the usual interpretation of the relationship between the
philosophies of these three, as disagreeing at quite a fundamental level. Here
is a quotation stating this interpretation:
“Quine is often
viewed as slaying the (supposedly) Carnapian distinction
between science and philosophy, whereas Putnam is commonly read as dismissing
both Carnap’s positivism and Quine’s scientific
naturalism.” (Verhaegh 2017)
Ebbs, these three philosophers share the following four commitments:
(1) In our
pursuit of truth, we can do no better than to start in the middle, relying on
already established beliefs and inferences and applying our best methods for reevaluating particular beliefs and inferences and arriving
at new ones.
(2) No part of
our supposed knowledge, no matter how clear it seems to us or how firmly we now
hold it, is unrevisable or guaranteed to be true.
(3) Insofar as
traditional philosophical conceptions of reason, justification, and apriority
conflict with the first two principles, they should be abandoned.
(4) A central
task of philosophy is to clarify and facilitate our rational inquiries by
replacing terms and theories that we find useful in some ways, but problematic
in others, with new terms and theories that are as clear and unproblematic to
us as the terms and methods of our best scientific theories.
Here is another
quotation from Verhaegh, summarizing Ebbs:
“Carnap, Quine, and Putnam, in other words, all dismiss
traditional inflated conceptions of philosophical inquiry and replace them with
a deeply fallibilistic, explication-based picture in
which there is no perspective external to the discourses we find useful in our
everyday and scientific inquiries.” (Verhaegh 2017)
Verhaegh, S. 2017. Gary Ebbs, Carnap, Putnam and Quine on Methods of Inquiry.
Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2017.11.23.