This work addresses the critical discussion featured in the contemporary literature about two well-known paradoxes belonging to different philosophical traditions, namely Frege’s puzzling claim that “the concept horse is not a concept” and Gongsun Long’s “white horse is not horse”. We first present the source of Frege’s paradox and its different interpretations, which span from plain rejection to critical analysis, to conclude with a more general view of the role of philosophy as a fight against the misunderstandings that come from (...) the different uses of language (a point later developed by the “second” Wittgenstein). We then provide an overview of the ongoing discussions related to the Bai Ma Lun paradox, and we show that its major interpretations include—as in the case of Frege’s paradox—dismissive accounts that regard it as either useless or wrong, as well as attempts to interpret and repair the argument. Resting on our reading of Frege’s paradox as an example of the inescapability of language misunderstandings, we advance a similar line of interpretation for the paradox in the Bai Ma Lun: both the paradoxes, we suggest, can be regarded as different manifestations of similar concerns about language, and specifically about the difficulty of referring to concepts via language. (shrink)
Davidson has famously argued that conceptual relativism, which, for him, is based on the content-scheme dualism, or the “third dogma” of empiricism, is either unintelligible or philosophically uninteresting and has accused Quine of holding onto such a dogma. For Davidson, there can be found no intelligible ground for the claim that there may exist untranslatable languages: all languages, if they are languages, are in principle inter-translatable and uttered sentences, if identifiable as utterances, are interpretable. Davidson has also endorsed the Quinean (...) indeterminacy-underdetermination distinction. The early Quine, as well as the later Quine, believe that the indeterminacy of translation casts serious doubt on the existence of facts of the matter about correct translation between languages. In this paper, I will argue that Quine cannot be the target of Davidson’s argument against conceptual relativism, and that Davidson’s argument is in conflict, among others, with his endorsement of the Quinean indeterminacy-underdetermination distinction. I will show how this conflict results in a radical departure from Quine with respect to the matter of factualism about fine-grained meanings. (shrink)
Davidson has always been explicit in his faithful adherence to the main doctrines of Quine’s philosophy of language, among which the indeterminacy of translation thesis is significant. For Quine, the indeterminacy of translation has considerable ontological consequences, construed as leading to a sceptical conclusion regarding the existence of fine-grained meaning facts. Davidson’s suggested reading of Quine’s indeterminacy arguments seems to be intended to block any such sceptical consequences. According to this reading, Quine’s arguments at most yield the conclusion that there (...) are always different ways of representing the facts about meaning, rather than the sceptical conclusion that there are no such facts. It is, however, puzzling how Davidson can endorse the main premises of Quine’s arguments, i.e. his general physicalistic view and his thesis of the indeterminacy of translation, and yet resist the arguments’ sceptical outcome. I will argue that Davidson’s construal of Quine’s thesis of the indeterminacy of translation is unjustified and faces a problematic dilemma. (shrink)
Syntax has to do with rules that constrain how words can combine to make acceptable sentences. Semantics (Frege and Russell) concerns the meaning of words and sentences, and pragmatics (Austin and Grice) has to do with the context bound use of meaning. We can hence distinguish between three competing principles of translation: S—translation preserves the syntax of an original text (ST) in the translation (TT); M—translation preserves the meaning of an ST in a TT; and P—translation preserves the pragmatics of (...) an ST in a TT. A prominent form of P is functionalism defended by linguists and translation theorists (J.R. Firth, Eugene Nida, Susan Bassnett and many others) and historically was defended by philosophers (Russell, Ogden and Richard) but abandoned by philosophers and criticized by Wittgenstein. If we adopt M, then a TT will always say exactly what the ST says, and hence all subsequent TTs, even alternative ones produced via M, will be consistent with each other. But if we adopt P, in contrast, we have no reason to believe that the TTs will say what the ST does, and moreover they can contradict each other. If such contradictory translations are produced on the basis of the totality of empirical evidence, it results in what Quine called the indeterminacy of translation. Yet, P is not easy to reject. In many cases, translation in accordance with M where the meaning to be preserved is linguistic results in TTs that are failures. In contrast to a language focused approach to semantics, I close by following a lead in the translation theory literature of identifying text-types (genres) as a tool for identifying translatable content in an ST. To individuate text-types I identify them with disciplines, as elucidated by the 2nd century Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtra. This allows for the definition of textual meaning as the discipline relative pragmatics of an ST and further for translation to proceed by way of M, while taking the intuitions that motivate P seriously. Translations that preserve textual meaning will not only have the same meaning as each other but will be pragmatically felicitous. (shrink)
An influential view about the relationship between publicity and linguistic meaning is brought into question. It has been thought that since public languages are essentially public, linguistic meaning is subject to a kind of epistemic cap so that there can be nothing more to linguistic meaning than can be determinately known on the basis of publicly available evidence (Epistemic Thesis). Given the thinness of such evidence, a well-known thesis follows to the effect that linguistic meaning is substantially indeterminate. In this (...) paper, we consider the sort of reasons offered for the Epistemic Thesis and uncover an unexamined presupposition about the epistemic requirements of communication and the establishment of meaning conventions. We show this presupposition is undermined by independently motivated considerations about communication and convention, giving us good reason to reject the Epistemic Thesis and its corollary about indeterminacy. (shrink)
У статті описано підходи до написання словників у перші десятиліття ХХ ст. Розглянуто концепцію і принципи укладання російсько-українського академічного словника. Проаналізовано реалізацію концепції російсько-українського академічного словника як лексикографічної праці, що поєднує риси перекладного, тлумачного, синонімічного та фразеологічного словників.
W. V. O. Quine's contention that translation is indeterminate has been among the most widely discussed and controversial theses in modern analytical philosophy. This chapter offers some initial reflections on the content and implications of the indeterminacy thesis, and of the presuppositions that Quine makes in treating it as a stepping‐stone to semantic irrealism. It distinguishes Quine's two principal arguments for the thesis: the famous 'gavagai' argument of Word and Object, and the argument from the underdetermination of empirical theory by (...) data emphasized in 'On the reasons for the indeterminacy of translation', and lays out the essentials of the former argument. The chapter assesses the cogency of Evans's objections, and lays‐out certain basic distinctions and implications of the second and more radical argument. The translation of theoretical terms in the native scientists' language can be no more indeterminate than is the selection of an empirically adequate theory of those data. (shrink)
The idea of there being “no fact of the matter” (NFM) features centrally in Quine’s indeterminacy theses. Yet there has been little discussion of how exactly Quine understands this idea. In this paper I identify, develop and then critically evaluate Quine’s conception of NFM. In Sects. 3–4 I consider a handful of intuitive semantic and ontological conceptions of NFM and argue that none is workable from within Quine’s philosophy. I conclude that the failure of each of these proposals is due (...) to the immanent status of truth and existence for Quine. In Sect. 5 I then present Quine’s official conception of NFM. Briefly, Quine’s idea is that there is NFM between two theories of translation iff those theories are physically equivalent. I develop this idea in detail. Finally, I raise two independent problems for this conception of NFM. In Sect. 6 I argue that Quine’s definition is too strong: given what he means by NFM, his arguments for indeterminacy—even granting all their premises and internal reasoning—simply cannot support his claim that there is NFM regarding translation; instead they establish a strictly weaker conclusion. In Sect. 7 I argue that Quine’s conception of NFM is in significant tension with his thesis of physicalism, and that he must give up one or the other. (shrink)
Attempting to compare scientific theories requires a philosophical model of meaning. Yet different scientific theories have at times—particularly in early chemistry—pre-supposed disparate theories of meaning. When two theories of meaning are incommensurable, we must say that the scientific theories that rely upon them are meta-incommensurable. Meta- incommensurability is a more profound sceptical threat to science since, unlike first-order incommensurability, it implies complete incomparability.
Fact/value holism has become commonplace in philosophy of science, especially in feminist literature. However, that facts are bearers of empirical content, while values are not, remains a firmly-held distinction. I support a more thorough-going holism: both facts and values can function as empirical claims, related in a seamless, semantic web. I address a counterexample from Kourany where facts and values seem importantly discontinuous, namely, the simultaneous support by the Nazis of scientifically sound cancer research and morally unsound political policies. I (...) conclude that even by the criteria available at the time, Nazi cancer research was empirically weak, and the weaknesses in their research are continuous with their moral failures in just the ways predicted by the holism I support. (shrink)
The present paper opens this topical issue on translation techniques by drawing a theoretical basis for the discussion of translational issues in a linguistic perspective. In order to forward an audience- oriented definition of translation, I will describe different forms of linguistic variability, highlighting how they present different difficulties to translators, with an emphasis on the semantic and communicative complexity that a source text can exhibit. The problem is then further discussed through a comparison between Quine's radically holistic position and (...) the translatability principle supported by such semanticists as Katz. General translatability — at the expense of additional complexity — is eventually proposed as a possible synthesis of this debate. In describing the meaningfulness levels of source texts through Hjelmslevian semiotics, and his semiotic hierarchy in particular, the paper attempts to go beyond denotative semiotic, and reframe some translational issues in a connotative semiotic and metasemiotic perspective. (shrink)
Die Theorien der radikalen Übersetzung und der radikalen Interpretation gehören zu den einflussreichsten sprachphilosophischen Theorien der zweiten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts. Mit dem Gedankenexperiment der Erstübersetzung einer völlig fremden Sprache hat Quine einen originellen Weg gefunden, Grundfragen der Bedeutungstheorie vom Ballast traditioneller Annahmen befreit neu zu stellen: Was ist überhaupt sprachliche Bedeutung, wie hängt sie mit außersprachlichen Reizen zusammen, auf die menschliche Tiere reagieren, welche Rolle sollte der Bedeutungsbegriff in der Sprachphilosophie spielen? Radikal an Quines Übersetzungstheorie sind nicht zuletzt seine (...) Folgerungen. Sein Versuch, die Arbeit des Feldlinguisten im Dschungel möglichst voraussetzungsarm zu erklären, mündet in die These von der Übersetzungsunbestimmtheit und die Intensionsskepsis. Diese Doktrinen sind in der Sprachphilosophie hochumstritten geblieben. Sich mit Quine Rechenschaft darüber abzulegen, was ohne mentalistische Voraussetzungen erklärbar ist und was nicht, ist aber auch dann erkenntnisbefördernd, wenn man Quine in seiner empiristischen und behavioristischen Mittelbeschränkung nicht folgt. -/- Davidsons Theorie der radikalen Interpretation kommt das Verdienst zu, klassische hermeneutische Fragestellungen in eine allgemeine Bedeutungstheorie für natürliche Sprachen zu integrieren und mit Mitteln der analytischen Philosophie zu bearbeiten: Welches Wissen benötigt ein Interpret? Wie hängt sprachliche Bedeutung mit Absichten zusammen? Welchen Anteil am Verständigungserfolg hat der Sprecher, welchen der Interpret, welchen sprachliche Regeln? Überdies zeigt Davidson die engen Verbindungen zwischen der Sprachphilosophie und benachbarten philosophischen Disziplinen auf, insbesondere der Erkenntnistheorie, der Philosophie des Geistes und der Handlungstheorie. Er zeichnet im Spätwerk ein komplexes Bild davon, wie es Wesen wie uns gelingt, sich in ihrem verbalen und nichtverbalen Handeln miteinander zu verständigen, indem sie sich triangulierend auf eine gemeinsame, sprachlich erschlossene Welt beziehen. (shrink)
Intersemiotic translation (IT) was defined by Roman Jakobson (The Translation Studies Reader, Routledge, London, p. 114, 2000) as “transmutation of signs”—“an interpretation of verbal signs by means of signs of nonverbal sign systems.” Despite its theoretical relevance, and in spite of the frequency in which it is practiced, the phenomenon remains virtually unexplored in terms of conceptual modeling, especially from a semiotic perspective. Our approach is based on two premises: (i) IT is fundamentally a semiotic operation process (semiosis) and (ii) (...) IT is a deeply iconic-dependent process. We exemplify our approach by means of literature to dance IT and we explore some implications for the development of a general model of IT. (shrink)
Quine’s writings on indeterminacy of translation are mostly abstract and theoretical; his reasons for the thesis are not based on historical cases of translation but on general considerations about how language works. So it is no surprise that a common objection to the thesis asserts that it is not backed up by any positive empirical evidence. Ian Hacking (1981 and 2002) claims that whatever credibility the thesis does enjoy comes rather from alleged (fictitious) cases of radical mistranslation. This paper responds (...) to objections of that kind by exhibiting actual cases of indeterminacy of translation. (shrink)
Building on the multivalent meanings of the Arabo- Persian tarjama (‘to interpret’, ‘to translate’, ‘to narrate’), this essay argues for the relevance of Qur’ānic inimitability (i'jāz) to contemporary translation theory. I examine how the translation of Arabic rhetorical theory ('ilm al-balāgha) into Persian inaugurated new trends within the study of literary meaning. Finally, I show how Islamic aesthetics conceptualizes the translatability of literary texts along lines kindred to Walter Benjamin. -/- .
Peter Hylton: Quine's Naturalism Revisited: Naturalism is Quine's overarching view. In thinking about the world, we must begin where we are; for Quine, that means within a system of knowledge which, as developed and improved, becomes natural science. There is no distinctively philosophical standpoint outside this system. So the philosopher draws on the results of science, which show, for example, that our knowledge of the world comes from stimulation of our sensory nerves. But the philosopher's work is also subject to (...) scientific standards of clarity and rigor. Terms such as ‘meaning’, and even ‘experience’, do not meet these standards and cannot be taken for granted at the outset. Quinean epistemology attempts to account for our knowledge using only terms that Quine takes to be sufficiently clear. The Quinean analogue of metaphysics relies on an ideal of regimented theory: all of our scientific knowledge reformulated so as to make it as clear, simple, and systematic as possible. His claims about ontology, for example, are answerable to that theory. The epistemological project can then be understood as an attempt to show that human knowledge can be accounted for within the narrow confines of regimented theory – and thus treated as a purely natural phenomenon. (shrink)
The paper considers the Quinean heritage of the argument for the indeterminacy of translation. Beyond analyzing Quine’s notion of stimulus meaning, the paper discusses two Kripkean argument’s against the Quinean claim that dispositions can provide the basis for an account of meaning: the Normativity Argument and the Finiteness Argument. An analogy between Kripke’s arguments and Hume’s argument for epistemological skepticism about the external world will be drawn. The paper shows that the answer to Kripke’s rule-following skepticism is analogous to the (...) answer to Humean skepticism: our use of concepts is more basic than, and presupposed by, the statement of the skeptical problem itself. (shrink)
Appeal to triangulation occurs in two different contexts in Davidson’s work. In the first, triangulation—in the trigonometric sense—is used as an analogy to help explain the central idea of a transcendental argument designed to show that we can have the concept of objective truth only in the context of communication with another speaker. In the second, the triangulation of two speakers responding to each other and to a common cause of similar responses is invoked as a solution to the problem (...) of underdetermination of thought and meaning by the patterns of causal relations we stand in to the environment. I examine both of these uses of the idea of triangulation. In section 2, I take up the use of triangulation as an analogy in connection with Davidson transcendental argument to establish that communication is essential for the concept of objectivity. I argue that it is unsuccessful because the case has not been made that scope for deploying the idea of contrasting perspectives, which is needed for the concept of objectivity, is available only in the context of communication. In section 3, I take up the idea that triangulation on a common cause of common responses of two creatures interacting with each other provides the additional constraint needed to assign objective content to our thoughts and words. I show that appeal to this sort of triangulation provides minimal help in responding to the problem it is intended to solve. Section 4 provides a brief summary and conclusion. (shrink)
According to the orthodox account of meaning and translation in the literature, meaning is a property of expressions of a language, and translation is a matching of synonymous expressions across languages. This linguistic account of translation gives rise to well-known skeptical conclusions about translation, objectivity, meaning and truth, but it does not conform to our best translational practices. In contrast, I argue for a textual account of meaning based on the concept of a TEXT-TYPE that does conform to our best (...) translational practices. With their semantic function in view, text-types are Archimedean points for their respective disciplines. The text-type of philosophy is no exception. Culture-transcendent conceptual analysis can proceed on firm footing without having to deny the reality of radical cultural and linguistic difference by treating components of text-types as the concepts to be analyzed. Analyses of central philosophical concepts are provided as a means of adjudicating philosophical controversy. (shrink)
It is commonly believed that Quine's principal argument for the Indeterminacy of Translation requires an untenably strong account of the underdetermination of theories by evidence, namely that that two theories may be compatible with all possible evidence for them and yet incompatible with each other. In this article, I argue that Quine's conclusion that translation is indeterminate can be based upon the weaker, uncontroversial conception of theoretical underdetermination, in conjunction with a weak reading of the ‘Gavagai’ argument which establishes the (...) underdetermination of the sense and reference of subsentential terms. If underdetermination is considered to be a widespread phenomenon in science, or in inductive reasoning more generally, then the Indeterminacy of Translation will be widespread too. Finally, I briefly consider two issues concerning the scope of this conclusion about the Indeterminacy of Translation: first, whether the argument presupposes behaviourism; and second, whether indeterminacy is restricted to the case of radical translation. I argue that the answer to both these questions is negative, and thus that the thesis of semantic indeterminacy remains relevant to those who disagree with Quine about some issues concerning the nature of mind and language. (shrink)
My theme here will be vagueness. But first recall Quine’s arguments for the indeterminacy of translation and the inscrutability of reference. (I will presume these arguments to be familiar.) If Quine is right, then there are radically different acceptable assignments of semantic values to the expressions of any language: different assignments of semantic values that for all that is determined by whatever it is that determines semantic value are all acceptable, and all equally good. Quine even argued that the indeterminacy (...) is so radical that some sentences are true under some acceptable assignments but false under others.1 Still, Quine does not allow intermediate truth-values or truthvalue gaps. (As I will put it, avoiding the disjunctive formulation: does not allow that there are sentences which are neuter.) Quine holds on to classical logic and bivalence and requires each acceptable assignment to be classical and bivalent.2. (shrink)
When posing the political as first, we imply an order. Such civilisational choice distinguishes the political and installs the subject within a sovereignist hierarchy. It forbids the political to those who are constructed as "others" in time, in space or in culture etc. The production of knowledges and (cognitive) inequality are constructed together. Translation is a politics and a technique of resolving that inequality (though it can produce some too). We attribute "ourselves" the political and concede the "pre-political" or the (...) "non-political" to others. Translation, together with some other instruments should allow to target cognitive justice necessary to a future epistemological revolution. It has its politics. The author's idea is, then, to start from intersecting etymologies as well as from the "untranslatables" which, thanks to the context, never make the whole "un-expressible". She gives some examples from "Asian" and "European" philosophies. The difference between the latter is striking when it comes to the fact that "European" philosophies value the subject/agency, while the "Asian" ones do not value it and do not even construct it. (shrink)
Alice encounters at least three distinct problems in her struggles to understand and navigate Wonderland. The first arises when she attempts to predict what will happen in Wonderland based on what she has experienced outside of Wonderland. In many cases, this proves difficult -- she fails to predict that babies might turn into pigs, that a grin could survive without a cat or that playing cards could hold criminal trials. Alice's second problem involves her efforts to figure out the basic (...) nature of Wonderland. So, for example, there is nothing Alice could observe that would allow her to prove whether Wonderland is simply a dream. The final problem is manifested by Alice's attempts to understand what the various residents of Wonderland mean when they speak to her. In Wonderland, "mock turtles" are real creatures and people go places with a "porpoise" (and not a purpose). All three of these problems concern Alice's attempts to infer information about unobserved events or objects from those she has observed. In philosophical terms, they all involve *induction*. -/- In this essay, I will show how Alice's experiences can be used to clarify the relation between three more general problems related to induction. The first problem, which concerns our justification for beliefs about the future, is an instance of David Hume's classic *problem of induction*. Most of us believe that rabbits will not start talking tomorrow -- the problem of induction challenges us to justify this belief. Even if we manage to solve Hume's puzzle, however, we are left with what W.V.O. Quine calls the problems of *underdetermination *and *indeterminacy.* The former problem asks us to explain how we can determine *what the world is really like *based on *everything that could be observed about the world. *So, for example, it seems plausible that nothing that Alice could observe would allow her to determine whether eating mushrooms causes her to grow or the rest of the world to shrink. The latter problem, which might remain even if resolve the first two, casts doubt on our capacity to determine *what a certain person means *based on *which words that person uses.* This problem is epitomized in the Queen's interpretation of the Knave's letter. The obstacles that Alice faces in getting around Wonderland are thus, in an important sense, the same types of obstacles we face in our own attempts to understand the world. Her successes and failures should therefore be of real interest. (shrink)
This essay reconsiders the place of meaning within Quine’s naturalism. It takes as its point of departure Davidson’s claim that Quine’s linguistic behaviorism entails a form of semantic externalism. It then further locates this claim within the Davidson-Quine debate concerning whether the proximal or distal stimulus is the relevant determinant of semantic content. An interpretation of Quine’s developing views on translation and epistemology is defended that rejects Davidson’s view that Quine be read as a proto-externalist. Quine’s empirical evaluation of translation (...) entails no positive theoretical doctrine concerning how meaning is determined, but concludes that communication is a theoretically unquantifiable practical art or skill. Moreover, his ongoing epistemological development highlights theoretical concerns that diverge in fundamental ways from Davidson’s interest in semantics. Quine then hasreasons for resisting the entailment to semantic externalism that Davidson finds in his work. These reasons should have also ledhim to question the scientific legitimacy of Davidson’s concern with content determination. (shrink)
One might take the significance of Davidson’s indeterminacy thesis to be that the question as to which language we can take another to be speaking can only be settled relative to our choice of an acceptable theory for interpreting the speaker. This, in turn, could be taken to show that none of us is ever speaking a determinate language. I argue that this result is self-defeating and cannot avoid collapse into a troubling skepticism about meaning. I then offer a way (...) of trying to make sense of the idea that some utterances do belong to determinate languages even though there is no determinate language one can take another to be speaking. This, however, results in an uninviting picture of communication in which no speaker is really in a position to say what another’s words mean. (shrink)
It is often assumed that there is a close connection between Quine's criticism of the analytic/synthetic distinction, in 'Two dogmas of empiricism' and onwards, and his thesis of the indeterminacy of translation, in Word and Object and onwards. Often, the claim that the distinction is unsound (in some way or other) is taken to follow from the indeterminacy thesis, and sometimes the indeterminacy thesis is supported by such a claim. However, a careful scrutiny of the indeterminacy thesis as stated by (...) Quine, and the varieties of the analytic/synthetic distinction, reveals that the two claims are mutually independent. Neither does the claim that the distinction is unsound follow from the indeterminacy thesis, nor that thesis from unsoundness claim, under any of the common interpretations of the analytic/synthetic distinction. (shrink)
Quine's philosophy, early and late, proceeds from the natural standpoint, that is the explicit acceptance of science. This paper attempts to explain what this means and how it fits with his early criticism of reductive empiricism. A kind of horizontal reductionism remains, it is argued, which aims to explain the import of his thesis of the indeterminacy of translation. In the second part of this paper an argument is developed to cast doubt on the significance of this thesis. Because of (...) the possibility of languages containing grue-like predicates, the very idea of determinacy loses all significance. The natural standpoint cannot rescue determinacy and thus cannot provide support for indeterminacy. (shrink)
The book contains twelve chapters, prefaced by acknowledgments, and followed by a short index. It derives from the author's doctoral dissertation in philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis, and thanks are offered to committee members Robert B. Barrett, Joseph Ullian and Roger Gibson. The reader who is not inclined to review the large related literature on Quine's view of cognitive meaning and translation may also be attracted to this book for concise summaries and treatment of the Quinean view from (...) St. Louis. -/- . (shrink)
This has been made available gratis by the publisher. -/- This piece gives the raison d'etre for the development of the converters mentioned in the title. Three reasons are given, one linguistic, one philosophical, and one practical. It is suggested that at least /two/ independent converters are needed. -/- This piece ties together the extended paper "Abstracts from Logical Form I/II," and the short piece providing the comprehensive theory alluded to in the abstract of that extended paper in "Pragmatics, Montague, (...) and 'Abstracts from Logical Form'" by motivating the entire project from beginning to end. (shrink)
W.V. Quine's thesis of the indeterminacy of translation is the theory which launched a thousand doctorates. During the 1970s it sometimes seemed to be as firmly entrenched a dogma among North American philosophers as the existence of God was among medieval theologians. So what is the indeterminacy thesis? It is very tempting, of course, to apply a little reflexivity and deny that there is any determinate thesis of indeterminacy of translation; to charge Quine with championing a doctrine which has no (...) clear meaning, or which is hopelessly ambiguous. Such a charge is, it is argued in this article, false. His meaning is fairly clear and there is widespread agreement on what the thesis amounts to. The second section of the article looks at Quine's ‘argument from below’ for indeterminacy, then the ‘argument from above’, with concluding remarks in the last section. (shrink)
Ernest Lepore and Kirk Ludwig present the definitive critical exposition of the philosophical system of Donald Davidson. Davidson 's ideas had a deep and broad influence in the central areas of philosophy; he presented them in brilliant essays over four decades, but never set out explicitly the overarching scheme in which they all have their place. Lepore's and Ludwig's book will therefore be the key work, besides Davidson 's own, for understanding one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century.
That reference is inscrutable is demonstrated, it is argued, not only by W. V. Quine's arguments but by Peter Unger's "Problem of the Many." Applied to our own language, this is a paradoxical result, since nothing could be more obvious to speakers of English than that, when they use the word "rabbit," they are talking about rabbits. The solution to this paradox is to take a disquotational view of reference for one's own language, so that "When I use 'rabbit,' I (...) refer to rabbits" is made true by the meaning of the word "refer." The reference relation is extended to other languages by translation. The explanation for this peculiarly egocentric conception of semantics-questions of others' meanings are settled by asking what I mean by words of my language-is to be found in our practice of predicting and explaining other people's behavior by empathetic identification. I understand other people's behavior by asking what I would do in their place. (shrink)
Quine’s thesis of the indeterminacy of translation has puzzled the philosophical community for several decades. It is unquestionably among the best known and most disputed theses in contemporary philosophy. Quine’s classical argument for the indeterminacy thesis, in his seminal work Word and Object, has even been described by Putnam as “what may well be the most fascinating and the most discussed philosophical argument since Kant’s Transcendental Deduction of the Categories” (Putnam, 1975a: p. 159).
This paper re-addresses Quine's indeterminacy of translation/inscrutability of reference thesis, as a problem for cognitive theories of content. In contradistinction with Quine's behavioristic semantics, theories of meaning, or content, in the cognitivist tradition endorse intentional realism, and are prone to be unsympathetic to Quine's thesis. Yet, despite this fundamental difference, I argue that they are just as vulnerable to the indeterminacy. I then argue that the vulnerability is rooted in a theoretical commitment tacitly shared with Quine, namely, the commitment to (...) the view that the perceptual input to the cognitive system is extensional - differentiating objects, but not the aspects (or, properties) they manifest. Thus, input extensionalism, and not behaviorism, is what forces the indeterminacy. I conclude by suggesting that the solution to Quine's indeterminacy problem hinges on the elaboration of an intensional theory of perceptual input, and of content in general. (shrink)
The doctrine that meanings are entitieswith a determinate and independent reality is often believed tohave been undermined by Quine's thought experiment of radicaltranslation, which results in an argument for the indeterminacy oftranslation. This paper argues to the contrary. Starting fromQuine's assumption that the meanings of observation sentences arestimulus meanings, i.e., set-theoretical constructions of neuronalstates uniquely determined by inter-subjectively observable facts,the paper shows that this meaning assignment, up to isomorphism,is uniquely extendable to all expressions that occur inobservation sentences. To do so, (...) a theorem recently proven byHodges is used. To derive the conclusion, one only has to assumethat languages are compositional, abide by a generalized contextprinciple and by what I call the category principle. Theseassumptions originating in Frege and Husserl are coherent withQuine's overall position. It is concluded that Quine'snaturalistic approach does not justify scepticism with regard tomeaning, but should rather result in a view that affiliatessemantics with neuroscience. (shrink)
This is the Introduction to my translation of Quine's Kant Lectures. Part of my interpretation is that an "esoteric doctrine" in involved in Quine's distinctive semantic claims: his skepticism of the credulity of non-expert evaluation of discourse and theory.
This book is a translation of W.V. Quine's Kant Lectures, given as a series at Stanford University in 1980. It provide a short and useful summary of Quine's philosophy. There are four lectures altogether: I. Prolegomena: Mind and its Place in Nature; II. Endolegomena: From Ostension to Quantification; III. Endolegomena loipa: The forked animal; and IV. Epilegomena: What's It all About? The Kant Lectures have been published to date only in Italian and German translation. The present book is filled out (...) with the translator's critical Introduction, "The esoteric Quine?" a bibliography based on Quine's sources, and an Index for the volume. (shrink)
En este ensayo examino el conflicto aparente entre nuestro conocimiento de ciertas distinciones semánticas de nuestro lenguaje y la tesis de la indeterminación de la traducción de Ouine. Este examen nos permitirá entender la manera como se articula dicha tesis con otros sectores de su filosofía. En particular, argumento que la tesis de la indeterminación de la traducción, estrictamente hablando, cumple· una función legitimadora en el sistema quineano. Con ella Quine, más que obtener una nueva conclusión en el ámbito de (...) la semántica, logra validar sus compromisos previos con el fisicalismo extensionalista y el conductismo lingüístico. (shrink)
Despite Quine's recurrent claims to the contrary, the idea is still widespread that indeterminacy of translation is a special case of underdetermination of theories. In this paper we explain how indeterminacy differs from underdetermination, and in what ways such gifted Quine scholars as Gemes and Bergström went astray.