[quickphilosophy] Re: Fodor on Concepts IV: Circularity

  • From: wittrsl@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 21 Sep 2010 18:10:53 -0000

--- In quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Ron Allen <wavelets@...> wrote:
> Hi Neil:
> Thanks for your comments. It seems that we are both calling upon Wittgenstein 
> to support opposite sides of an argument about Quine.
> Maybe Budd by "global indeterminacy" means "applies to all words in all 
> languages" and "local" means just some words in some languages. In any case, 
> one question I putting forth is what words, if any, are immune from this 
> alledged indeterminacy. I asked about the logical connectives. Quine grants 
> that "no unmarried man is married" is analytic. Well.

Quine doesn't believe in analyticity.  He thinks "No unmarried man is married" 
is a logical truth, i.e., true in virtue of its form alone.  It's an instance 
of "No not-P is P."  In his view, logic requires that, not analyticity.  See 
his review of Strawson's book on logic, "Mr. Strawson on Logical Theory."  As a 
devout Tarski follower, he thinks that truth is safer choice than synonymy on 
which to base logic.

> I agree with you if by indeterminacy you mean imprecision. But I have always 
> taken Quine to be injecting a degree of modality into his assertion of 
> indeterminacy, that it is ultimately insurmountable in all cases, whereas the 
> simple imprecision of a term allows for border cases, and there analyticity 
> is not assured. 

Again, there's no analyticity at all in Quine, never mind any assurance of it.

>So, we know that a bachelor is unmarried, 

He'd say that that's more "central" than your playboy example, ie., less 
subject to revision, but would deny it's absolutely safe.

but we're not sure that a playboy is unmarried. Wittgenstein admits imprecision 
without denying truth, and, I think, analyticity. Is it not correct to say, 
stand roughly here? It is sometimes thought by his followers that W advocated 
an ultimate relativism, that one could never really say whether the rules for 
using a word were or were not being followed. But the passages PI 201 and PI 
202 refute this. I guess that's where everyone stops reading. Now I know all 
meaning is a muddle, and I can quit right here.

> Well, maybe my argument doesn't work. OK. I'd still like to see an argument 
> for why an infant is better equipped and more successful at learning a new 
> language that a trained linguist is.

But nobody requires that that be true.

> Quine gives no examples, yes, that's what I'm saying. To give an example, he 
> needs to provide us a word in a language other than English and give us its 
> meaning in that language, and then tell us why we can not (I mean: never, 
> ever, in no possible word; this is the modal content of his theory) translate 
> it. Again, this is probably what Budd is claiming to be the incoherent part 
> of Quine's thesis.

Again, your notion of "translation" isn't the same as his.  He doesn't require 
that sort of infallibility or perfect determinacy in order for understanding to 
take place, and would claim that, to be successful in their work, both 
linguists and babies (and logicians) can do without that sort of perfect 
determinacy too.


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