Soames on Quine and Davidson

Abstract
Quine and Davidson are the topics of, respectively, parts five and six of volume II of Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century.1 In chapter 10, Soames examines Quine’s arguments in Word and Object for the indeterminacy of translation; chapter 11 is devoted to the radical consequences of this thesis and an assessment of it. In chapter 12, Soames turns to Davidson’s claim that theories of truth are theories of meaning; and in chapter 13, to his argument against alternative conceptual schemes. Obviously this is to omit much (although Quine receives more attention in Soames’s volume I); in compensation we get Soames’s characteristically detailed, clear, and penetrating treatment of some central doctrines of both philosophers. Someone who associates analytic philosophy with mind-numbing wrangles about “ordinary language” might suppose that analytic philosophers spurn mind-boggling philosophical theorizing. Soames’s chapters on Quine and Davidson will quickly cure this misapprehension. For reasons of space, I will pass over Soames’s instructive discussion of Davidson on theories of meaning, sticking instead to Quine on indeterminacy, and Davidson on conceptual schemes.
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