Date of Award

Summer 8-2011

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Philosophy and Religion

Committee Chair

Paula Smithka

Committee Chair Department

Philosophy and Religion

Committee Member 2

Samuel Bruton

Committee Member 2 Department

Philosophy and Religion

Committee Member 3

Chris Meyers

Committee Member 3 Department

Philosophy and Religion


A criterion of ontological commitment is a formal method for determining what objects or entities a theory says exists. The most famous criterion of ontological commitment was developed by W.V.O. Quine. However, Quine's criterion has been attacked for presumably not meeting his own standards for an acceptable theory. After explaining the motivation and details of Quine's criterion, I will tum to the prominent objections against his theory. I will argue that there are problems both with Quine's formulation of his criterion, as well as the interpretation of Quine's criterion as presented by his objectors. In response to these issues, I will present my own criterion of ontological commitment. I argue that my criterion of ontological commitment meets Quine's standards for an acceptable theory, but is not subject to the prominent objections that have been used against his criterion.