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Two Dogmas of Empiricism
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Two Dogmas of Empiricism

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In Two Dogmas of Empiricism, one of the most celebrated papers of twentieth century philosophy in the analytical tradition, Quine argues against the analytic/synthetic distinction, and against reductionism.

Quine rejects the analytic/synthetic distinction, and points out that the main assumption here is that analytic statements are "grounded in meaning independent of matters of fact" and synthetic statements are "grounded in fact". Arguments that analytic statements are distinct from synthetic statements are problematic for several reasons: if they are distinct by nature of their definition then it is difficult to see whether definitions are really different from synonyms; or if they are distinct through their capacity for interchangeability then doesn’t this require analytic understanding; or if they are distinct because of semantic rules then attempting to assign truth values ignores the underlying fact that there is no good reason for differentiating between linguistic and factual components of sentences.

Here Quine begins his argument for holism, and in doing so rejects reductionism. The reductionist idea that scientific sentences can be either confirmed or disconfirmed individually is plainly false, since it is always the case that where these sentences are derived analytically, some piece of information can be missing. Rather, all parts need to be taken into account, so that it is understood that scientific statements "face the tribunal of sense experience not individually but as a corporate body". So, Quine's rejection of verificationism indicates how the notion of an analytic/synthetic distinction cannot be maintained: it is not possible to maintain a clear distinction between factual and logical components of sentences that lead to its truth-value.