The bifurcation of scientific theories and indeterminacy of translation

Philosophy of Science 42 (4):411-427 (1975)
In this essay I present a statement of Quine's indeterminacy thesis in its general form. It is shown that the thesis is not about difficulties peculiar to so-called "radical translation." It is a general thesis about meaning and reference with important consequences for any theory of our theories and beliefs. It is claimed that the thesis is inconsistent with Quine's realism, his doctrine of the relativity of reference, and that the argument for the thesis has the consequence that the concept of stimulus meaning is empty. The sense in which linguistic science, as a branch of behavioral science, is "part of physics" is discussed. An alternative to Quine's view of the nature and content of linguistic science is proposed. It is shown to be consistent with Quine's assumptions concerning the legitimate scope of behavioral science and not to involve the notions of analyticity, synonymy and "prevalent attitudes toward meaning, idea and proposition" ([9], p. 304) rejected by Quine
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DOI 10.1086/288661
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