more from Hilary Putnam

Single Idea 6270

[catalogued under 19. Language / F. Communication / 6. Interpreting Language / b. Indeterminate translation]

Full Idea

What it is to be a correct translation is to be the translation that best explains the behaviour of the speaker.

Gist of Idea

The correct translation is the one that explains the speaker's behaviour


Hilary Putnam (Meaning and the Moral Sciences [1978], Lec III)

Book Reference

Putnam,Hilary: 'Meaning and the Moral Sciences' [RKP 1981], p.41

A Reaction

This seems fairly close to Quine, but rather puzzlingly uses the word 'correct'. If our criteria of translation are purely behavioural, there is no way we can be correct after one word ('gavagai'), so at what point does it become 'correct'?