Modality, Mechanism and Translational Indeterminacy

Dialogue 28 (3):391- (1989)
Duncan MacIntosh
Dalhousie University
Ken Warmbrod thinks Quine agrees that translation is determinate if it is determinate what speakers would say in all possible circumstances; that what things would do in merely possible circumstances is determined by what their subvisible constituent mechanisms would dispose them to do on the evidence of what alike actual mechanisms make alike actual things do actually; and that what speakers say is determined by their neural mechanisms. Warmbrod infers that people's neural mechanisms make translation of what people say determinate. I argue that the evidence of what alike actual mechanisms make alike actual things do actually, underdetermines what our neural mechanisms would make us say in merely possible circumstances. So translation is indeterminate. And so too are the dispositions of physical mechanisms.
Keywords Quine  Indeterminacy of Translation  dispositions  mechanisms  language  meaning  counterfactuals  Warmbrod  neuronal mechanism  meaning
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DOI 10.1017/S0012217300015924
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Ontological Relativity and Other Essays.W. V. Quine - 1969 - Columbia University Press.
Word and Object.W. V. Quine - 1960 - MIT Press.

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