Semantic indeterminacy and scientific underdetermination

Philosophy of Science 51 (3):464-487 (1984)

Some critics believe Quine's semantic indeterminacy (indeterminacy of radical translation at home as well as abroad) thesis is true, but innocent, since it is just scientific underdetermination in linguistics. The Quinean reply is that in scientific underdetermination cases there are facts of the matter making claims true or false (whether knowable or not), whereas in semantic indeterminacy cases there simply are not. The critics' rejoinder that there are such facts, studied in linguistics, is met by the final reply that linguistics either on the whole or in part is riddled with appeals to "meanings" and is, thereby, as suspect as analyticity and radical translation. I recommend "saving"(?) linguistics by holding that it is permanently entangled in epistemology. Finally, the argument the critics should have made concerns paralleling semantic indeterminacy to indeterminacies in current quantum mechanics
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DOI 10.1086/289194
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