Analytic Philosophy

W.V.O. Quine

What was W.V.O. Quine’s view of existence?

He is famous for claiming: “To be is to be the value of a variable.” He meant by this that we should be committed to the existence of only those entities that need to be posited in order to understand and apply scientific theories. He wrote:

For my part I do, qua lay [amateur] physicist, believe in physical objects and not in Homer’s gods; and I consider it a scientific error to believe otherwise. But in point of epistemological footing, the physical objects and the gods differ only in degree and not in kind. Both sorts of entities enter our conceptions only as cultural posits.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Philosophy Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App