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Empiricist Semantics and Indeterminacies of Reference

By I. Douven


In concert with his overall empiricist outlook, Quine urges 'to approach semantical matters in the empirical spirit of natural science' ([21,p.8]).\ud Among many other things this means that theories of reference, or interpretations-i.e.,joint ascriptions of referents to the words a certain speaker or group of speakers\ud uses-should be accepted or rejected on the basis of exactly the same criteria\ud that govern theory choice in natural science.\ud To be more precise, theories of\ud reference are, on this view, exclusively to be judged on the grounds of so called\ud operational and theoretical constraints, i.e., on the grounds of whether they\ud are in accordance with the observational data-the operational constraints-\ud and exhibit such virtues as consistency, explanatory force, and coherence with\ud accepted theories in semantics as well as in other domains-the theoretical constraints

Topics: Wijsbegeerte
Year: 1997
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