QUINE AND THE INCOHERENCE OF THE INDISPENSABILITY ARGUMENT (pages 207-213)

Michael J. SHAFFER

ABSTRACT: It is an under-appreciated fact that Quine’s rejection of the analytic/synthetic distinction¾when coupled with some other plausible and related views¾implies that there are serious difficulties in demarcating empirical theories from pure mathematical theories within the Quinean framework.  This is a serious problem because there seems to be a principled difference between the two disciplines that cannot apparently be captured in the orthodox Quienan framework.  For the purpose of simplicity let us call this Quine’s problem of demarcation.  In this paper this problem will be articulated and it will be shown that the typical sorts of responses to this problem are all unworkable within the Quinean framework.  It will then be shown that the lack of resources to solve this problem within the Quinean framework implies that Quine’s version of the indispensability argument cannot get off the ground, for it presupposes the possibility of making such a distinction.

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