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Keywords:

  • philosophical analysis/explication;
  • Quine;
  • definition;
  • essence

Philosophical analysis is for Quine the replacement of a defective expression by another, sound expression, which performs the same work. In general, then, an analysis consists of two stages: (a) identifying the work that a defective expression performs, and (b) imbedding it in a safe domain. In this essay I argue that Quine’s view does not truly reflect what we do in philosophy. The problem, I think, lies in both stages (a) and (b), but stems from Quine’s assumption that we can control the work performed by language.