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Christopher Hookway

ISBN: 978-0-745-66725-6 April 2013 Polity 240 Pages


This book provides a clear and comprehensive introduction to the work of Willard van Orman Quine, the most important and influential American philosopher of the post-war period. An understanding of Quine's work is essential for anyone who wishes to follow contemporary debates in the philosophy of language, the philosophy of mind and metaphysics.

Hookway traces the development of Quine's work from his early criticisms of logical positivism and empiricism to his more recent theories about mind and meaning. He gives particular attention to Quine's controversial arguments concerning the indeterminacy of translation, comparing Quine's views with those of Davidson, Putnam and others. Hookway concludes by offering a critical appraisal of Quine's approach and of some of his fundamental philosophical commitments.

This lucid and balanced study will be essential reading for students of philosophy. It will also be invaluable for students in the social sciences and other disciplines who are looking for a clear introduction to Quine's ideas.



Part I: The Evolution of Empiricism.

1. Language and the World.

2. Rules and Rationality.

3. Naturalism, Realism and Pragmatism.

Part II: Logic and Reality.

4. Physicalism and Objectivity.

5. Logic: Canonical Notation and Extensionality.

6. Intensionality.

7. Necessity: Logic and Metaphysics.

Part III: Mind and Meaning.

8. Indeterminacy of Translation.

9. Translation and Explanation.

10. Holism, Interpretation and the Autonomy of Psychology.

Part IV: Knowledge and Reality.

11. Nature and Experience.

12. Physicalism and Reality.

'... displays deep knowledge of Quine's writings and an exemplary concern with what really matters.' The Philosophical review
1. This is the first comprehensive introduction to Quine available in any language. 2. Quine is th e most important and influential American philosopher of the last 50 years; his ideas are widely taught in philosophy departments and in the social sciences. 3. The book is accessible to students with no prior philosophical training.