Grazer Philosophische Studien

Volume 60, 2000

Dirk Greimann
Pages 13-29

"No Entity Without Identity":
A Reductionist Dogma?

Quine has persuasively shown that the empiricist "dogma of reductionism", which is the belief that each meaningfiil statement of science can be reduced to statements about immediate sense experience, must be abandoned. However, Quine's methodology of ontology seems to incorporate an analogous physicalistic dogma according to which the identity conditions of each scientifically respectable sort of abstract objects can be reduced to the identity conditions of physical objects. This paper aims to show that the latter dogma must be abandoned, too. In section 1, the reductionist methodology underlying Quine's prescript "No Entity without Identity" is reconstructed in detail. In section 2 and 3, this methodology is criticized on the ground that Quine's individuation of sets offends against the reductive Criteria of adequacy for individuations that are presupposed by his criticism of the ontological recognition of intensional objects. Finally, in section 4 an alternative holistic conception of individuation is outlined.