"Two Dogmas of Empiricism" is justifiably one of the most famous texts in 20th century philosophy. It's less an essay than a force, a wrecking ball, a left hook aimed directly at the chin of the basic principles of philosophy of science circa 1950. And for the purposes of this meetup I'd like us to talk not so much about the arguments that constitute the bulk of the text (although they'll definitely come up) as about what gets left behind after its target goes down. In the infamous final section (#6, "Empiricism without the Dogmas") Quine proposes, in place of the Carnapian empiricism he has just leveled, what has been called his "holism." Suddenly all propositions - even logical laws - fall to the same level in the system, all entities become the theoretically useful posits of that system, and the system is to be continually reevaluated for purposes of simplicity and economy while an underdetermined stimulation called "experience" nips away at the far edges. How should this be understood? What would be the consequences?
We'll probably start the meetup by running through the text of this section once. You can find the whole essay here: