Indeterminacy Translation Thesis

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But Quines claim is that it will always be possible to adjust the translations of these other locutions in such a way as to preserve any of the alternative translations of gavagai [WO 51-4, 71-2].

(This example is probably misleading in one respect, in that it suggests a much narrower range of variation among acceptable translations than Quine actually seems elsewhere to advocate; but even this degree of variation is sufficiently problematic to raise the issues I want to consider here.)Quines argument for this conclusion concerning radical translation is complicated, obscure in important respects, and raises a number of difficult interpretive issues.

At the same time, however, there has been no very widespread agreement on where and how the arguments go wrong.

My view is that they are best viewed as reductions to absurdity of their premises and of one underlying premise in particular.

Restated so as to bring out the key point a bit more clearly, that thesis says that no appeal to purely behavioral evidence, no appeal to how the native words are actually used in concrete situations, suffices to determine a unique translation of the native language, so that widely differing translations are, on this basis, equally acceptable.

This initial result, though no doubt a bit surprising, is hardly startling in itself.

But then, Quine claims, just as in the original case, there is simply no fact of the matter as to which of the alternatives captures what we really mean when we say there is a rabbit; and just as in the original case, the alleged indeterminacy extends as well to the correlative state of mind.

It is this result which I regard as an unintended reductio ad absurdum of the premises which lead to it.

As Quine himself says in another place, Caesar designates Caesar and rabbit denotes rabbits, whatever they are . An immediate corollary of metaphysical realism as thus understood is what Putnam calls a radically non-epistemic view of truth: whether what we say or believe is true depends entirely on whether the content of our statements or beliefs agrees or corresponds with the way the world really is and not at all on what evidence we happen to have.

Of course, we may hope that our evidence leads us to an accurate view of the world and may, perhaps, even have good reasons for thinking that it does.


Comments Indeterminacy Translation Thesis

  • Indeterminacy of translation - Oxford Reference

    The doctrine of the indeterminacy of translation has, however, been widely influential. It is the focus of many debates about the reality of psychological states, and may be said to represent the analytic tradition's version of the general mistrust of determinate meaning that is characteristic of postmodernism.…

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    Show Summary Details Preview. 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.…

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    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.…

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    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.…

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    Early on Kuhn drew a parallel with Quine's thesis of the indeterminacy of translation 1970a, 202; 1970c, 268. According to the latter, if we are translating one language into another, there are inevitably a multitude of ways of providing a translation that is adequate to the behaviour of the speakers.…

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    Which create dispositions to verbal behavior. The indeterminacy thesis, a result of this linguistic behaviorism, states that there is no fact ofthe m alter which determines the correct translation of any term of a language into another language. That is, there will be a number ofcoherent yet mutually…

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    Which originally led Quine to the indeterminacy thesis. My purpose in the paper is twofold. First, I want to show that the propo- nent of Quinean. indeterminacy is in a serious bind accepting indeterminacy INDETERMINACY OF TRANSLATION-THEORY AND PRACTICE 781…

  • The Indeterminacy of Translation - Bibliography - PhilPapers

    SummaryIt is a mistake to think that Quine's thesis of the indeterminacy of translation reduces to the claim that théories are under‐determined by evidence. The theory of meaning is subject to an indeterminacy that is qualitatively different from the under‐determination of scientific théories.…

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    Interdeterminacy of translation" means that the translation you come up with depends on the process of translation, as well as the intended underlying semantics of the speaker.…

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    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…

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