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Philosophy Research Archives

Volume 1, 1975

Hugh T. Wilder
Pages 18-45

Quine's Arguments for the Interdeterminacy of Translation

The purpose of the article is to evaluate Quine's arguments for the thesis of the indeterminacy of translation. After formulation of the thesis, Quine's four main arguments are described and evaluated. The arguments are: (1) the argument from the underdeterminacy of physical theory, (2) the argument from the inscrutability of terms, (3) the argument from the conjunction of the Peircean notion of meaning and the Duhemian thesis about the interanimation of sentences, and (4-) the argument from the linguist's reliance on sets of analytical hypothesis. It is contended that none of these arguments is successful in supporting the thesis of the indeterminacy of translation, and that Quine has offered no reason to believe that the degree of determinacy of translation is different from that of physical theory.

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