Philosophy Lexicon of Arguments

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.
Author Item Excerpt Meta data
Brandom, Robert
Books on Amazon
Gavagai I 576
BrandomVsQuine: Sentences about rabbit parts predict pruned properties, namely by reference to the merged objects to which they belong.
I 578ff
Gavagai/BrandomVsQuine: if you want to use singular terms for (rabbit) parts, there must be predications of them, which do not only address them through the wholenesses in which they appear - if "Gavagai" is to be a real sortal, then language must be able to individuate objects that it sorts - there must be a term for "the same Gavagai" (in the derived scheme) - no natural language can be as non-autonomous that it needs a richer meta-language (of the theorist) - only artificial languages can do without it.
580 I
Solution/Brandom: it is about accuracy of inferences, not superficial stimuli.
VsQuine: since no natural language can be non-autonomous in this sense - only artificial languages whose use is specified in a richer metalanguage can be that - a straightforward translation is to be preferred.
BrandomVsQuine: this is about correctness of inferences, not about Quine’s thin base of surface stimuli.
Gavagai: how do you distinguish whether the rabbit fly or the flash of bright stumpy tail triggers the expression? You cannot know, it does not depend on the RDRDs(reliable differential responsive dispositions) and the corresponding causal chains, but on their inferential role.

Bra I
R. Brandom
Expressive Vernunft Frankfurt 2000

Bra II
R. Brandom
Begründen und Begreifen Frankfurt 2001

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2017-04-23