Quine and the Revival of Metaphysics

Talking with Miloš today made me remember a piece that Jason Stanley put out on the 100th anniversary of Quine‘s birth.  The piece is a ten minute talk that Stanley gave, which aims to summarize Quine’s contribution to analytic philosophy in a way that should be comprehensible to a general audience.  If you’re a non-philosopher who’s curious about where philosophy stands, and in particular why people are still doing metaphysics, there are much worse things you could read for the next few minutes.  There is also a comments thread which features a critical distinction between what “(logical) positivism” means to a philosopher and what it means to a general humanist.

If I may editorialize, one of Stanley’s claims struck me:

One of the chief lessons of the history of philosophy is that anti-metaphysical arguments invariably appeal to controversial metaphysical assumptions.

This is descriptively accurate, yet I’m tempted to say that this is merely because metaphysical arguments are the only currency that metaphysicians will accept, and that a sort of Gresham’s law is in effect here…

But that would be intemperate.


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