(1908-) US philosopher and logician with a highly scientific view of the world. He is often described as a nominalist because he believes that universals do not have any real existence outside of thought and language, and a pragmatist because he holds that our minds group together properties in the ways that are most useful for us.
According to Quine, “to be is to be the value of a variable” in a system of formal logic. By this, he means that we commit ourselves to the existence of something only when we can say that it has a quality or feature, and that existence itself is not a quality or feature.
Quine’s theory of the indeterminacy of translation states that assured translation between two languages (or even within one language) is impossible in principle, because the designation of any two words or phrases as synonymous is impossible to justify completely. This is set out in Word and Object 1960.
Quine was born in Akron, Ohio, and graduated from Oberlin College and Harvard University. He was professor of philosophy at Harvard from 1936 until his retirement.
He also wrote Two Dogmas of Empiricism 1951 and Philosophy of Logic 1970.