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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Quote of the Day: Quine on Verificationism

I spied the following gem today while reading The Philosophy of W.V. Quine:

"Gibson cites Follesdal's interesting observation that the
indeterminacy of translation follows from holism and the verification theory of meaning. Follesdal mistrusts this defense because of doubts about verificationism, and I gather Gibson agrees. But I find it attractive. The statement of verificationism relevant to this purpose is that 'evidence for the truth of a sentence is identical with the meaning of the sentence'; and I submit that if sentences in general had meanings, their meanings would be just that. It is only holism itself that tells us that in general they do not have them."

(pp. 155-156, "Reply to Roger F. Gibson, Jr." The Philosophy of W.V. Quine, Lewis Edwin Hahn and Pal Arthur Schlipp eds. La Salle, Illinois. Open Court, 1986 )


Pete Mandik said...

If Quine intends "if sentences in general had meanings, their meanings would be just that" as a material conditional, then given his belief in the falsity of the antecedent, he could just as well affirm that "if sentences in general had meanings, then meanings are identical to green cheese."

Quirinius_Quine said...

I didn't cath that, but you're right: Given Quine's general views on modality, he has no right to seriously assert counterfactuals. My username aside, I don't have any big problems with modality, even if I do find it puzzling at times.