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Originally when I had read Carnap's 'Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology', it
was for Professor Grey's Metaphysics course. We had introduced it with the
primary focus on answering questions of existence. We compared the idea with
other ideas of existence and how certain things existing commit us to certain
ontologies. For instance, Quine requires that we are committed to the existence
of any bound variable in the existential quantifier, at least for any of our
scientific theories. Carnap's idea about frameworks seems quite closely related
to this. However, for Carnap, it seems that Quine's position is but one of many
distinct possibilities that we could choose. Indeed, other papers we read in
that course, such as Meinong's work on fictional objects, also seem as though
they can be accommodated by Carnap's work. The position itself seems reasonable:
we admit the existence of certain entities insofar as they provide useful for
the kind of work we are doing. Electrons exist because our physical theories are
well-equipped to deal with them; we can speak of them, describe their
properties, and so on. It would be outrageous for us to say, "the electron has
such properties as these, but it does not exist".  However, it seems hard to
commit those who do not share our theories - about more than 'science',
especially - to the existence of what our theories posit. Carnap argues that the
decisions about which framework to use are largely pragmatic ones. While this
sounds remarkably similar to Wittgenstein in 'On Certainty', I am more convinced
by Wittgenstein than Carnap on this matter. I am not entirely certain why this
is the case; perhaps I just like Wittgenstein more? It might have something to
do with the fact that I take Wittgenstein to be saying 'there are many choices,
none of which are wholly correct', whereas it feels as though Carnap wants to
point at a particular framework and say 'this is it; this is the one framework
to rule them all'. It seems terribly difficult to 'convince someone' that their
theory is incorrect, or that yours isn't, on pragmatic grounds alone.  Pragmatic
reasons also don't seem to be the correct sorts of reasons for choosing certain
theories in the first place. For instance, it doesn't seem like the pragmatic
choice to choose skeptical or antirealist theories over realist ones. Indeed,
under Carnap's position, it seems that the lack of pragmatic reasons for
accepting something like idealism would be a strike against such a theory, but a
strike in what way? If the logic we choose or the principles we prefer also fall
under a framework, then it seems that these ways of weighing theories against
each other is circular. I guess the point I'm trying to make here is analogous
to the point Graham Priest attempts to make in favor of paraconsistent logic.
Our reasons for accepting the law of excluded middle are either ungrounded or
circular; insofar as Graham Priest has failed to convince me that paraconsistent
logic is the way to go, Carnap's argument that pragmatic reasons are how we
justify frameworks loses ground. 


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