Turning Point: Quine’s
Indeterminacy of Translation at Middle Age
Richard Creath, Arizona
State University, Philosophy
817R Cathedral of Learning
Word and Object was an important
turning point for Quine’s philosophy.His earlier argument against analyticity had pushed him to
suppose that empirical procedures in translation go radically wrong.His argument for this in Word and Object, however,
brought a whole cascade of changes in Quine’s views.His focus shifted, and what he said about simplicity, analyticity,
synonymy, and confirmation changed as well.When taken together, the alterations are an enormous step
in Carnap’s direction.
This argument in Word
and Object depended crucially on issues in the philosophy of
tends to illustrate the power, philosophic centrality, and instability
of Quine’s philosophy of science.It also raises intriguing questions as to whether Carnap’s
ideas were really refuted after all.