Kripke, Quine, the 'Adoption Problem' and the Empirical Conception of Logic



Boghossian P & Wright C (2024) Kripke, Quine, the 'Adoption Problem' and the Empirical Conception of Logic. Mind, 133 (529), pp. 86-116.

Recently, there has been a significant upsurge of interest in what has come to be known as the 'Adoption Problem', first developed by Saul Kripke in 1974. The problem purports to raise a difficulty for Quine’s anti-exceptionalist conception of logic. In what follows, we first offer a statement of the problem and argue that, so understood, it depends upon natural but resistible assumptions. We then use that discussion as a springboard for developing a different adoption problem, arguing that, for a significant class of basic logical principles, there is indeed a difficulty in seeing how they might be ‘freely adopted,’ thereby vindicating something close to the spirit of Kripke’s original claim. This first part of our argument will enforce a significant qualification of Quine’s claim that basic logical principles can be empirically confirmed. In the concluding sections of the paper, we turn to the question, specifically, of the empirical revisability of logic, arguing that when proper attention is paid to the role of reasoning in theory revision, it does indeed emerge that anti-exceptionalism, in full generality, is untenable.


Mind: Volume 133, Issue 529

Publication date31/01/2024
Publication date online30/11/2023
Date accepted by journal14/07/2022
PublisherOxford University Press (OUP)

People (1)


Professor Crispin Wright

Professor Crispin Wright

Professor, Philosophy