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    #1

    Quine considers classical empiricism to be overly narrow‟ (lines 7-8) for which?

    Hi, would you please help me to understand the true answer of the following question from the below reading? Thanks a lot.

    Reading
    Historically, a cornerstone of classical empiricism has been the notion that every true generalization must be confirmable by specific observations. In classical empiricism, the truth of “All balls are red,” for example, is assessed by inspecting balls; any observation of a non-red ball refutes unequivocally the proposed generalization.
    For W. V. O. Quine, however, this constitutes an overly “narrow” conception of empiricism. “All balls are red,” he maintains, forms one strand within an entire web of statements (our knowledge); individual observations can be referred only to this web as a whole. As new observations are collected, he explains, they must be integrated into the web. Problems occur only if a contradiction develops between a new observation, say, “That ball is blue,” and the preexisting statements. In that case, he argues, any statement or combination of statements (not merely the “offending” generalization, as in classical empiricism) can be altered to achieve the fundamental requirement, a system free of contradictions, even if, in some cases, the alteration consists of labeling the new observation a “hallucination.”



    20. It can be inferred from the passage that Quine considers classical empiricism to be “overly „narrow‟ ” (lines 7-8) for which of the following reasons?
    I.Classical empiricism requires that our system of generalizations be free of contradictions.
    II.Classical empiricism demands that in the case of a contradiction between an individual observation and a generalization, the generalization must be abandoned.
    III.Classical empiricism asserts that every observation will either confirm an existing generalization or initiate a new generalization.
    (A) II only
    (B) I and II only
    (C) I and III only
    (D) II and III only
    (E) I, II, and III

    Answer: The book says that A is correct, but I think that E is correct. Why am I wrong?
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 24-Jul-2016 at 09:59. Reason: Enarged font to make post readable

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    #2

    Re: Quine considers classical empiricism to be overly narrow‟ (lines 7-8) for whi

    This is a tough question but I agree that the answer is (A) although I'm stuggling to provide a convincing reason why it's not (D). Anyway, this is my justification:

    I. can be disregarded because although basically implied, the idea of being "free of contradiction'' is part of Quine's explanation of his view of empiricism, not a traditionally defining feature of classical empiricism. There is nothing about being '"overly narrow''.

    III. As I've suggested I'm not very sure about this but I think III. can be disregarded because this is not an example of 'narrowness' in Quine's sense. In the event of a contradicting observation being made, classical empiricism would simply "refute unequivocally" by putting an end to the "offending generalization" whereas Quine's wider conception of empiricism would allow for a more flexible "alteration" into a new generalisation. Thus III. is not true.

  1. Raymott's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Quine considers classical empiricism to be overly narrow‟ (lines 7-8) for whi

    That's similar to how I read it too. A is the answer.
    I - An absence of contradiction is common to both Classical and Quinean empiricism.
    III - An observation of a blue ball, if it's an hallucination, doesn't confirm that all balls are red; nor does it necessarily initiate a new generalisation.
    Last edited by Raymott; 28-Jul-2016 at 11:35. Reason: typo

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