White Rose University Consortium logo
University of Leeds logo University of Sheffield logo York University logo

Gavagai again

Williams, J.R.G. (2008) Gavagai again. Synthese, 164 (2). pp. 235-259. ISSN 1573-0964

Available under licence : See the attached licence file.

Download (234Kb)


Quine (1960, ch.2) claims that there are a variety of equally good schemes for translating or interpreting ordinary talk. ‘Rabbit’ might be taken to divide its reference over rabbits, over temporal slices of rabbits, or undetached parts of rabbits, without significantly affecting which sentences get classified as true and which as false. This is the basis of his famous ‘argument from below’ to the conclusion that there can be no fact of the matter as to how reference is to be divided. Putative counterexamples to Quine’s claim have been put forward in the past (see especially Evans, 1975; Fodor, 1993), and various patches have been suggested (e.g. Wright, 1997). One lacuna in this literature is that one does not find any detailed presentation of what exactly these interpretations are supposed to be. Drawing on contemporary literature on persistence, the present paper sets out detailed semantic treatments for fragments of English, whereby predicates such as ‘rabbit’ divide their reference over four-dimensional continuants (Quine’s rabbits), instantaneous temporal slices of those continuants (Quine’s rabbit-slices) and the simple elements which compose those slices (undetached rabbit parts) respectively. Once we have the systematic interpretations on the table, we can get to work evaluating them.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: This is an author produced version of a paper accepted for publication in Synthese.
Institution: The University of Leeds
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of Humanities (Leeds) > School of Philosophy (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science (Leeds) > School of Philosophy (Leeds)
Depositing User: Leeds Philosophy Department
Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2007 10:30
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2013 17:05
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11229-007-9224-3
Status: Published
Publisher: Kluwer (Springer)
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1007/s11229-007-9224-3
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/3358

Actions (repository staff only: login required)