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Proceedings of the XXII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 39, 2008

Philosophy of Language

Shao Ming
Pages 149-155

The Riddle of ‘Gavagai’
Reflection on Quine’s Theory of Indeterminacy

In 20th century, many philosophers were excited by new discoveries in natural science, and held some kind of thoughts of indeterminacy. The trend is opposite to the traditional pursuit of certainty with a dogmatic character. However, through analyzing Quine’s theory of indeterminacy of translation, as well as the ideas of indeterminacy what Rorty and Putnam have developed forward, the article will argue that: their conclusions of indeterminacy inferred from the observation sentences are questionable; indeterminacy perhaps is materialized so that they similarly maintain, in another way, an ontological custom about which they have made a great effort to criticize; therefore, their some philosophical statements maybe have also implied a dogmatic inclination; indeterminacy has possibly become another ‘unempirical dogma of empiricists’.