By Dennett Daniel C
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It was the systematicity of this knowledge that convinced him that knowledge of an appropriate truth theory TM for L would be sufficient for understanding its sentences. However, this was a mistake—as was shown in Foster (1976), which demonstrated that one could know that which was stated by TM while systematically misunderstanding the sentences of L to which it assigned truth conditions. Although Davidson’s “Reply to Foster” (1976) modified the original justification for taking his theories of truth to be theories of meaning, the new justification was shown to fail in Soames (1992).
But since knowledge of logic is presupposed by such derivations, it cannot be explained by them. The objection, which to this day remains powerful, illustrates a characteristic feature of Quine’s thought. Starting with the problems posed by his positivist mentors, he isolated a central tenet about meaning in their proposed solution, and exposed an inherent problem. Quine’s reaction was not, of course, to give a nonlinguistic account of the apriori, but to purify empiricism by giving up the apriori altogether.
However, despite having been a senior professor at Harvard for ten years (interrupted by a stint of military service in World War II), he was still in the minority there—as illustrated by the department’s rejection of his 1948 proposal to offer a position to Carnap. In those years, his chief allies were first, Henry Aiken, who joined the department in 1946, and later, Morton White, whose appointment in 1948 was instigated by Aiken and Quine. With these appointments, and the retirement of C. I.