chapter  3
30 Pages

Anti-Realism about Reference and Global Anti-Realism

ByAndrew Joseph Cortens

This chapter examines what anti-realism about reference is, and how it is to be distinguished from related doctrines such as Quine's famous thesis of the indeterminacy of translation. Quine's twin doctrines of the inscrutability of reference and ontological relativity naturally come to mind. Quine's view represents one among several positions which, from a traditional perspective, should be classified as forms of anti-realism about reference. The kind of anti-realist who countenances global ontological shifts is most readily associated with object anti-realism. Anti-realists about reference may differ considerably over what counts as an acceptable reference scheme. Even if translation and meaning are determinate enough to ensure that our sentences have determinate truth conditions, plenty of scope remains for indeterminacy of reference. Hilary Putnam argues that radically different "interpretations" or "reference schemes" can give rise to identical assignments of truth conditions to whole sentences.