W. V. Quine


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Quine, W. V.

(Willard Van Orman Quine) (kwīn), 1908–2000, American philosopher and mathematical logician, b. Akron, Ohio, grad. Oberlin, 1930. He studied at Harvard (Ph.D., 1932) under Alfred North WhiteheadWhitehead, Alfred North,
1861–1947, English mathematician and philosopher, grad. Trinity College, Cambridge, 1884. There he was a lecturer in mathematics until 1911. At the Univ.
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 and in Europe, where he was influenced by Rudolf CarnapCarnap, Rudolf
, 1891–1970, German-American philosopher. He taught philosophy at the Univ. of Vienna (1926–31) and at the German Univ. in Prague (1931–35). After going to the United States he taught at the Univ. of Chicago (1936–52) and at the Univ.
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. He taught at Harvard (1936–78), becoming Edgar Pierce professor of philosophy there in 1955. Much of Quine's philosophical work deals with the implications of viewing language as a logical system. He disputed the distinction, originating in Immanuel Kant, between analytic and synthetic statements. He argued that any statement can be held to be true no matter what is observed, provided that adjustments are made elsewhere in a language's system of reference. Quine drew attention to "ontic commitments" in language systems, i.e., their tendency to commit their users to the existence of certain things. In the field of logic Quine made important contributions to set theory. His writings include Mathematical Logic (1940), From a Logical Point of View (1953), Word and Object (1960), Philosophy of Logic (1969), Set Theory and Its Logic, Methods of Logic (3d ed. 1972), Theories and Things (1981), and Pursuit of Truth (1989).

Bibliography

See studies by R. F. Gibson (1982), I. Dilman (1984), L. Hahn (1986), P. Gochet (1986), and R. B. Barrett and R. F. Gibson, ed. (1989).