Re: [quickphilosophy] Re: Fodor on Concepts IV: Circularity

  • From: wittrsl@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 20 Sep 2010 11:45:43 -0700 (PDT)

Hi Budd & Walt:
I'm not sure what Budd means by "global" indeterminacy of translation, or, for 
that matter, whether there is a "local" indeterminacy. But, I don't think that 
the notion itself is incoherent; it is, however, unsubstantiated.
1. Quine gives no examples of translation indeterminacy.
2. If I can't ever understand what "gavagai" or "dieseldown" means, from a 
native speaker of the languages that contain those words, then I also can't 
ever understand what "rabbit", for example, means from a speaker of English. 
Without a criterion for telling a priori what words are deterministically 
translatable from those that are not, it follows that I don't understand any 
words in my own language.
3. The only language I could be speaking, assuming now that I actually speak a 
language, is my own private language. Of course, Wittgenstein would take one 
whiff and send this nasty plate back to the kitchen.
4. Suppose X is trying to translate Y's word y. X thinks that it means x1. Q, 
however, is monitoring X's effort, and says, no she's wrong. X now suggests it 
means x2. But Q says no. X continues to guess and Q continues to point out that 
the meaning of Y's word y differs in some sense from the guesses x1, x2, x3, 
... made by X. This seems possible. But, how can Q be justified in denying all 
the time that X misses the semantic mark? It could only be that Q understands 
the meaning of y and Q understands the meaning of x1, x2, ..., and Q knows that 
none of x's carries the same semantic content as y. There could be word in X's 
language that semantically matches y, or there could be no word in X's idiom 
that correspends. Q still has to know one or the other of these things to be 
justified in denying all matches. In other words, there is someone who can 
translate from Y's language into X's language. So, if we suppose that there is 
someone who can plausibly
 deny determinacy of translation, then there is no indeterminacy of 
translation. That is, Budd is correct to say that translation indeterminacy is 
incoherent. If, on the other hand, we posit no such Q (and there isn't any 
more; may he rest in peace), then translation indeterminacy may be possible. We 
just haven't got any examples.
(This is an elaboration of Searle's argument against Whorf.)

--- On Sun, 9/19/10, walto <calhorn@xxxxxxx> wrote:

From: walto <calhorn@xxxxxxx>
Subject: [quickphilosophy] Re: Fodor on Concepts IV: Circularity
To: quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Date: Sunday, September 19, 2010, 6:50 AM


--- In quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, "gabuddabout" <gabuddabout@...> wrote:
> In fact, there is a reason to reject a global indeterminacy of translation. 
> It is incoherent. 

Can you explain why you think that? Thanks.

> Ever read Rorty's _Spinoza Lectures_ (just two of 'em I think)?



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