The Logic behind Quine's Criterion of Ontological Commitment

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This article first explains why Quine took first‐order classical logic to be the only language in which we should formulate a theory or declarative statement to determine its ontological commitments. I then argue that Quineans cannot relax Quine's restriction to classical logic such that any nonclassical logic may be used to uncover a theory's ontological commitments. The reason is that this leads to radical ontological relativism according to which the ontological commitments of a theory are relative to a logic. This is not a Quinean picture of ontology, but a Carnapian one. Finally, I consider whether Quineans can go beyond Quine by allowing for classical and plural logic, but no other logics. I claim that this is not possible because plural logic is not transparent: it allows for ontologically nonequivalent theories to be formulated such that they come out as ontologically equivalent.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)789-804
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Philosophy
Issue number3
Early online date2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Sep

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Philosophy


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