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Historically, a cornerstone of classical empiricism has been

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Historically, a cornerstone of classical empiricism has been [#permalink] New post 10 Feb 2019, 01:54
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Historically, a cornerstone of classical empiricism has been the notion that every true generalization must be confirmable by specific observations. In classical empiricism, the truth of "All balls are red," for example, is assessed by inspecting balls; any observation of a non red ball refutes unequivocally the proposed generalization.

For W.V.O. Quine, however, this constitutes an overly "narrow" conception of empiricism. "All balls are red," he maintains, forms one strand within an entire web of statements (our knowledge); individual observations can be referred only to this web as a whole. As new observations are collected, he explains, they must be integrated into the web. Problems occur only if a contradiction develops between a new observation, say, "That ball is blue," and the preexisting statements. In that case, he argues, any statement or combination of statements (not merely the "offending" generalization, as in classical empiricism) can be altered to achieve the fundamental requirement, a system free of contradictions, even if, in some cases, the alteration consists of labeling the new observation a "hallucination."
17. The author of the passage is primarily concerned with presenting

(A) criticisms of Quine's views on the proper conceptualization of empiricism
(B) evidence to support Quine's claims about the problems inherent in classical empiricism
(C) an account of Quine's counterproposal to one of the traditional assumptions of classical empiricism
(D) an overview of classical empiricism and its contributions to Quine's alternate understanding of empiricism
(E) a history of classical empiricism and Quine's reservations about it

[Reveal] Spoiler: OA
C



18. According to Quine's conception of empiricism, if a new observation were to contradict some statement already within our system of knowledge, which of the following would be true?

(A) The new observation would be rejected as untrue.
(B) Both the observation and the statement in our system that it contradicted would be discarded.
(C) New observations would be added to our web of statements in order to expand our system of knowledge.
(D) The observation or some part of our web of statements would need to be adjusted to resolve the contradiction.
(E) An entirely new field of knowledge would be created.

[Reveal] Spoiler: OA
D


19. As described in the passage, Quine's specific argument against classical empiricism would be most strengthened if he did which of the following?

(A) Provided evidence that many observations are actually hallucinations.
(B) Explained why new observations often invalidate preexisting generalizations.
(C) Challenged the mechanism by which specific generalizations are derived from collections of particular observations.
(D) Mentioned other critics of classical empiricism and the substance of their approaches.
(E) Gave an example of a specific generalization that has not been invalidated despite a contrary observation.

[Reveal] Spoiler: OA
E


20. It can be inferred from the passage that Quine considers classical empiricism to be "overly 'narrow'" (lines 7-8) for which of the following reasons?

I. Classical empiricism requires that our system of generalizations be free of contradictions.
II. Classical empiricism demands that in the case of a contradiction between an individual observation and a generalization, the generalization must be abandoned.
III. Classical empiricism asserts that every observation will either confirm an existing generalization or initiate a new generalization.

(A) H only
(B) I and II only
(C) I and III only
(D) II and III only
(E) I, II, and III

[Reveal] Spoiler: OA
A


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Re: Historically, a cornerstone of classical empiricism has been [#permalink] New post 25 Feb 2019, 11:56
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17. The first paragraph tells us about classical empiricism, historically speaking. It does not explain the entire system though, just this one cornerstone point. The second paragraph gives us Quine's account of empiricism, which challenges the cornerstone in the first paragraph. This maps best onto choice C, as the passage details how Quine's account differs from classical empiricism on this one fundamental point.

18. Here's the relevant portion: "In [the case of a contradiction], he argues, any statement or combination of statements can be altered to achieve the fundamental requirement, a system free of contradictions." So one or more parts of the web can be adjusted so that everything fits together. This fits best with D.

19. This one's tricky. Particularly, don't spend too much time trying to understand choice C. Move on and come back to it if none of the other choices stand out. However, choice E is a very good choice. Remember that in classical empiricism, one contradictory observation (like a non-red ball), "refutes unequivocally the proposed generalization." Obviously, thern, if you find a non-red ball, the generalization that all balls are red is completely false. Choice E, though, is saying that Quine could produce a generalization that remains true even though a contradiction can be observed. This would fly in the face of the classical model.

20. I. is not true because Quine also requires a system free of contradictions. II. is true, because Quine imagines times, such as hallucinations, where a generalization and an observed contradiction can both be true. III. is not true because the passage doesn't mention how classical empiricism initiates new generalizations. So only II. works, making the answer A.
Re: Historically, a cornerstone of classical empiricism has been   [#permalink] 25 Feb 2019, 11:56
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