Willard Van Orman Quine (June 25, 1908 â€“ December 25, 2000) (known to intimates as “Van”) was an American philosopher and logician in the analytic tradition. From 1930 until his death 70 years later, Quine was continuously affiliated with Harvard University in one way or another, first as a student, then as a professor of philosophy and a teacher of mathematics, and finally as a professor emeritus who published or revised several books in retirement. He filled the Edgar Pierce Chair of Philosophy at Harvard, 1956â€“78. A recent poll conducted among philosophers named Quine as one of the five most important philosophers of the past two centuries.
Quine’s paper Two Dogmas of Empiricism, published in 1951, is one of the most celebrated papers of twentieth century philosophy in the analytic tradition. According to Harvard professor of philosophy Peter Godfrey-Smith, this “paper [is] sometimes regarded as the most important in all of twentieth-century philosophy”. The paper is an attack on two central parts of the logical positivists’ philosophy. One is the distinction between analytic truths and synthetic truths, explained by Quine as truths grounded only in meanings and independent of facts, and truths grounded in facts. The other is reductionism, the theory that each meaningful statement gets its meaning from some logical construction of terms that refers exclusively to immediate experience.
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