Philosophy Lexicon of Arguments

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Gavagai: fantasy word from a thought experiment of W.V.O. Quine. An expression (or fragment) of a completely foreign language is not unambiguously translatable into a known language, because it is not determined, whereupon the expression of the foreign language relates. Even pointing to an object does not create unambiguity. E.g. only a part or a property of the object can be referred to. See also translation, indeterminacy, translation manual, analytical hypothesis, uncertainty, reference, meaning.

Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Item Summary Meta data
II 201
Indeterminacy/Gavagai/Theory/Reference/FieldVsQuine: the indeterminacy does not only refer to the absolute sense. - either a) to the absolute - b) to the relative reference.
Absolute reference/Field: here there is no fact which decides what Gavagai has as an extension.
II 202
Correspondence theory/indeterminacy/Gavagai/Field: new correspondence theory: partial signification: Gavagai has the relation of partial signification - a) to the quantity of rabbits - b) to the quantity of rabbit parts. - This is only interesting, if one can explain truth with it. - Then "is" is either identity relation or partial identity.
Indeterminacy: is then the thesis that there is no fact that decides about it. - This does not mean that there is no disquotation scheme. - Modification: "signifies partially a and partially b".
Partial signification/everyday language: E.g. "tall man": 180-185cm?
II 204
Problem: relativized signification and denotation leads again to the myth of the museum. - For each predicate T, set y (or {x I Fx} and translation manual M: T signifies {x I Fx} relative to M iff M T displays to a term which signifies y (or {x I Fx}).
Gavagai/FieldVsQuine: Quine needs a connection between "rabbits" ((s) not "Gavagai") in our language and actual rabbits. But his indeterminacy thesis denies the existence of such a one which does not consist at the same time equally well out of rabbit parts.
II 216
Gavagi/metalanguage/Field: we need defined expressions for the description of the partial extension: - E.g. "Rabbit" partly signifies the set of rabbits and partly the set of the unseparated parts of rabbits. - Question: how can this be understood by someone for whom the last two tokens of "rabbit" are indeterminate? - N.B.: the sentence is just as understandable and has the same truth conditions when the meta language is indeterminate.
II 220
Gavagai/indeterminacy/Field: the addition of "is an unseparated part of" to language reduces the indeterminacy. - (This comes from an inflationary view).

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.

Fie I
H. Field
Realism, Mathematics and Modality Oxford New York 1989

Fie II
H. Field
Truth and the Absence of Fact Oxford New York 2001

H. Field
Science without numbers Princeton New Jersey 1980

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2018-06-20