Human vs. Computer: Comparison of How the Truth of a Statement is Determined in the Framework of WVO Quine’s Holism

Human vs. Computer: Comparison of How the Truth of a Statement is Determined in the Framework of WVO Quine’s Holism

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IV. Reasons for Holism Thesis and the Web-of-Belief Model: Language Acquisition
Why reasons offered by TDE are not enough. While Quine’s positive account is as compelling as it is gripping, his negative account falls short of out and out refutation of old dogmas. For one, neither the Duhem Thesis nor the failure of Carnap’s reductionist program is sufficient to firmly establish the fallacy of the Dogma of Reductionism. Duhem originally stated his thesis as an empirical observation strictly about the challenges that physicists faced when confirming theories of physics (Ariew, 2011). To establish that the same challenges arise in confirming any statement whatsoever, Quine would need to cite corresponding empirical observations, but more importantly, explain why they arise. TDE attempts neither. A failure of a single reductionist program, or even several, is not sufficient evidence for the impossibility of such a program. Quine’s argument against The Dogma of Analytical/Factual duality also falls short of being conclusive. Some authors have noted three aspects of the “closed curve” argument that lack foundation. First, TDE is unclear as to the necessity of the main assumption of the “closed curve” argument, that an inexplicable concept must be illusory. Second, Grice and Strawson find Quine’s standards of clarity arbitrary (Grice, 1957). In particular, Quine’s standards for a clear explanation prohibit the explanandum and the explanan from belonging to the same circle of interrelated concepts. Third, they also point out that Quine arbitrarily assumes the impossibility of explanation of analyticity based on the failure of only the few cases that he considers.
Additional Reasons for Holism Thesis. However, the argument...


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Grice, P., Strawson, P., 1957. “In Defense of a Dogma,” Philosophical Review 65: 141-58.
Penrose, Roger, 1989. The Emperor's New Mind, Oxford University Press.
Prigogine, I., 1997. End of Certainty, The Free Press.
Quine, W.V.O., 1953. “Two Dogmas of Empiricism,” From a Logical Point of View. Harvard University Press.
Quine, W.V.O., 1969a. "Epistemology Naturalized," Ontological Relativity and Other Essays, New York: Columbia University Press: 69–90
Quine, W.V.O., 1969b. "Natural Kinds," Ontological Relativity and Other Essays, New York: Columbia University Press: 114-138
Quine, W.V.O., 1975. “The Nature of Natural Knowledge”, in Guttenplan, S., ed. Mind and Language, Oxford: Oxford University Press: 67–81
Simon, H., 1992. "The computer as a laboratory for epistemology," in L. Burkholder (Ed.), Philosophy and the Computer, Boulder, CO: Westview Press.


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