I'm specifically thinking about Grice and Strawson's paper "In Defense of a Dogma" and Putnam's paper "Two Dogmas Revisited". Both raise major issues with the content of Quine's "Two Dogmas of Empiricism", though it's not completely clear (to me) that they actually do anything to defend Carnap from the core of Quine's critique.

Anyways, the question is whether Quine ever wrote anything directly responding to either of these. Google scholar didn't turn up anything when I did a search, so my guess is that he never did.

  • 2
    He did, although he responds generally to no one in particular, see Two Dogmas in Retrospect. He did make some pragmatic concessions (going back to Roots of Reference), but was, apparently, unimpressed on substance.
    – Conifold
    Apr 6, 2020 at 23:24
  • @Conifold Please expound upon how/why Quine was "unimpressed on substance." That is how did Quine, indirectly, address the contention that he was either confused, or that his analysis was a hyperbolic/histrionic reaction to a necessarily blurry distinction? By 1991, Quine's criticism of the analytic/synthetic distinction had itself become a dogma (of, now mainstream and common-place, post-positivism), had it not?
    – gonzo
    Apr 7, 2020 at 0:24
  • @Conifold....cont. I too was uncertain about how to accommodate (fit in with my take of reality) the criticism of Quine's criticism.
    – gonzo
    Apr 7, 2020 at 0:29
  • @gonzo I quoted from it in If one agrees with Quine's dissolution of the Analytic/Synthetic distinction..., but I am not aware of a freely accessible version. Jstor is accessible from most libraries though. 64.9% "accept or lean toward" the distinction vs 27.1% against in a recent PhilPapers poll of (mostly) analytic philosophers, so dogma it is not.
    – Conifold
    Apr 7, 2020 at 0:31
  • Almost forgot, I also sketched what Quine's response might be in What is Quine's rebuttal to Grice and Strawson's In Defense of Dogma?
    – Conifold
    Apr 7, 2020 at 0:40

1 Answer 1


About a month ago someone cited Grice and Strawson's criticism of Quine's argument (in his Two Dogmas, against the analytic/synthetic distinction), in their In Defense of a Dogma, in a post on this site. I do not recall the context. But it piqued my curiosity so I perused the essay, which criticizes a position that has itself become a dogma of, now mainstream, post positivism (See John H. Zammito's A Nice Derangement of Epistemes (2004)).

I had neither read the piece nor considered the objections to Quine's dismissal of the analytic and synthetic distinction before. That is, I had never considered that Quine’s argument was either confused, or a hyperbolic/histrionic reaction to a necessarily blurry distinction. After reading the essay, however, I too wondered about whether Quine had ever expressly responded to it (or whether he dismissed it out of hand as missing the point), as are you now. He never did. But see https://philosophy.stackexchange.com/a/29122/9148, where our own @Conifold attempts to do so.

  • It seems to me that Quine rejected the analytic versus synthetic distinction on the basis that the analytic side had not been sufficiently precisely defined. If instead of trying to define the analytic side we define the synthetic side, then the distinction could still be made. Although the following definition of synthetic knowledge may have some tricky boundary cases defining synthetic knowledge as any knowledge requiring sense data from the sense organs to verify its truth would eliminate all of the objections that Quine ever posed.
    – polcott
    May 3, 2020 at 18:31
  • Have a look at Ram Tobolski’ answer here philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/37061/… and at his discussion with Mos. Also at Conifold’s and Bumble’s answers to this post: philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/29117/…. The problem with your gambit would appear to be Quine's Holism, see: plato.stanford.edu/entries/meaning-holism/#AnaObj. Maybe you should post your query?
    – gonzo
    May 3, 2020 at 20:02

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