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Permutation or Translation: Will the Real Indeterminacy Thesis Please Stand Up?

Hitchcock, Christopher Read (1995) Permutation or Translation: Will the Real Indeterminacy Thesis Please Stand Up? Southwest Philosophy Review, 11 (2). pp. 187-205. ISSN 0897-2346. doi:10.5840/swphilreview199511231.

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[Introduction] Two recent discussions of Quine's work have stressed the importance of interpreting a philosophical thesis before attempting to criticize or substantiate it. The point is unexceptionable, but philosophy has few one way streets; the debates that follow the presentation of an important philosophical thesis can help to unpack its contents, and it is often surprising what comes out of the suitcase. Quine's indeterminacy thesis is no exception; its contents continue to be unpacked decades after it was first opened. In this paper I will examine a controversy that has centered on the indeterminacy thesis. The disputants in question are Gerald Massey and Robert Kirk. Massey has proposed and defended examples of rival translation manuals intended to instantiate the indeterminacy thesis; Kirk has argued that these manuals fail to instantiate the indeterminacy thesis, and has gone on to present an argument for the determinacy of translation. In the wake of this debate, one must return to chapter two of Word and Object, the locus classicus of Quine's indeterminacy thesis, and reread it in a new light. In particular, I will argue that Quine offered two very different formulations of the indeterminacy thesis in chapter two of Word and Object, and I will substantiate my claim with examples drawn from the Massey-Kirk debate. If this argument should prove correct, and there are in fact two indeterminacy theses, it may become necessary to reexamine all of the arguments surrounding 'the' indeterminacy thesis that have emerged over the decades.

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Additional Information:© 1995 Southwestern Philosophical Society.
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20140408-100208905
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:44748
Deposited On:09 Apr 2014 17:51
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 16:56

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