Quine and his critics on truth-functionality and extensionality

Charles Sayward

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12775/LLP.2007.002


Quine argues that if sentences that are set theoretically equivalent are interchangeable salva veritate, then all transparent operators are truth-functional. Criticisms of this argument fail to take into account the conditional character of the conclusion. Quine also argues that, for any person P with minimal logical acuity, if ‘belief’ has a sense in which it is a transparent operator, then, in that sense of the word, P believes everything if P believes anything. The suggestion is made that he intends that result to show us that ‘believes’ has no transparent sense. Criticisms of this argument are either based on unwarranted assertions or on definitions of key terms that depart from Quine’s usage of those terms.


Quine; Mackie; Sleigh; Sharvy; truth-functional; extensional

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Mackie, J.L. 1974. The Cement of the Universe. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Quine, W.V. 1953. “Reference and Modality’‘’, pp. 139–159 in From a Logical Point of View. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Quine, W. V. 1960. Word and Object. New York and London: The Technology Press of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and John Wiley & Sons.

Quine, W. V. 1966. “Three Grades of Modal Involvement”, pp. 156–174 in The Ways of Paradox and Other Essays. New York: Random House.

Sharvy, R. 1970. “Truth-Functionality and Referential Opacity”, Philosophical Studies, 21, 5–9.

Sleigh, R. C. Jr. 1966. “A Note on an Argument of Quine’s”, Philosophical Studies, 17, 91–93.

ISSN: 1425-3305 (print version)

ISSN: 2300-9802 (electronic version)

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