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Quine's thesis of indeterminacy of translation: A Wittgensteinian critique

Berger, Mario Garcia; (1995) Quine's thesis of indeterminacy of translation: A Wittgensteinian critique. Masters thesis (M.Phil), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This dissertation is intended to be a critical discussion of Quine's indeterminacy of translation thesis. I analyze this thesis from within the conceptual framework of the later Wittgenstein's philosophy. The main objectives of this discussion are to show that: the indeterminacy thesis can be dismissed by making use of Wittgenstein's conception of meaning as use; that even the mere idea that there is no fact of the matter about the correctness of different translations of the sentences of language does not make sense; and that Quine's linguistic behaviourism falls short of providing a satisfactory explanation of meaning. In Chapter One I characterize the indeterminacy thesis and explain the main arguments Quine offers in support of it. Likewise, I point out how this thesis relates to other fundamental aspects of Quine's philosophy, particularly, his physicalism and meaning holism. In chapter Two I provide a general characterization of Wittgenstein's conception of meaning as use and contrast it with Quine's notion of linguistic use and his dismissal of the idea that meaning can be defined in terms of how sentences are used. In chapter Three I use Wittgenstein's conception of meaning to criticize the indeterminacy thesis and that of the inscrutability of reference. I point out that in places Quine seems to embrace implicitly a notion of meaning very much like Wittgenstein's, which would be inconsistent with both thesis. In chapter Four I put forward an argument, based on Wittgenstein's notion of "linguistic rule", against the indeterminacy thesis. This argument purposes to show that no satisfactory explanation of meaning can be framed within Quine's linguistic behaviourism.

Type: Thesis (Masters)
Qualification: M.Phil
Title: Quine's thesis of indeterminacy of translation: A Wittgensteinian critique
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Philosophy, religion and theology; Quine's theory of indeterminacy of translation
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10105976
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