Indeterminacy Translation Thesis

Indeterminacy Translation Thesis-78
For, it is claimed, the indeterminacy extends not only to our knowledge of the native speakers meaning, but to that meaning itself and even to the state of mind of the native speaker which embodies it.Thus the view seems to be that when the native says gavagai, he means something having to do with rabbits, but no particular, determinate thing: his thought is somehow intrinsically indeterminate between the various alternatives. But the most crucial point is that while Quine develops his argument mainly in relation to the situation of radical translation, he makes it quite clear that its significance is not restricted to that rather unusual situation.I begin with Quines argument for the famous thesis of the indeterminacy of translation.

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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.

Putnams basic thesis is that metaphysical realism, in particular the claim that a global theory which is epistemically ideal might nonetheless be false, is itself not just false but indeed unintelligible.

From an intuitive standpoint, for such an epistemically ideal theory to be false would be for its terms (or their thought-analogues) to refer to or stand for pieces of an sich reality in such a way as to make false claims about that reality.

While I do not have time here to enter into a detailed discussion, I think that in the end the argument is best construed as a challenge to Quines opponents to show how determinate radical translation is possible, given only behavioral evidence, and I think it is fair to say that this challenge has not been met.

Thus I regard Quines initial thesis, the thesis of the indeterminacy of radical translation proper, as reasonably firmly established.

Though my own belief is that, when properly understood, metaphysical realism is both true and obvious, I can quite well understand some degree of sympathy for an argument which aims to refute it.

What I will claim to be absurd about Putnams argument, however, is not the denial of metaphysical realism per se, but rather the way in which this denial is defended and the view which is claimed to be the only alternative.

Quines claim, in brief, is that while such a radical translator can perhaps succeed, in principle at least, in translating (i) observation sentences and (ii) truth-functional connectives in a determinate, non-arbitrary way, the possibility of determinate, non-arbitrary translation does not extend to the rest of the unknown language.

While the sentences which fall outside these bounds can indeed be putatively translated in a way which will be consistent with all possible behavioral evidence, any such possible translation will, he argues, be only one of indefinitely many different alternatives, all of which are equally satisfactory from a behavioral standpoint and between which only an essentially arbitrary choice is possible.


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.…

  • Philosophy of science - Differences and similarities between.

    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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    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.…

  • Can Theoretical Underdetermination support the Indeterminacy.

    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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    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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    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.…

  • Indeterminacy of Translation--Theory and Practice Dorit Bar.

    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…

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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…

  • Quine on the Indeterminacy of Translation A Dilemma for.

    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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