2.60 Radical Translation

Category: Philosophy of Language

Keywords: quine, languages, translation, grammar, holism, syntax, davidson, putnam, interpretations, charity, syntactic, rabbit, competence, quantification, scheme

Number of Articles: 342
Percentage of Total: 1.1%
Rank: 43rd

Weighted Number of Articles: 311.7
Percentage of Total: 1%
Rank: 46th

Mean Publication Year: 1984.8
Weighted Mean Publication Year: 1981.7
Median Publication Year: 1983
Modal Publication Year: 1975

Topic with Most Overlap: Ordinary Language (0.0436)
Topic this Overlaps Most With: Analytic/Synthetic (0.0314)
Topic with Least Overlap: Crime and Punishment (2e-04)
Topic this Overlaps Least With: Self-Consciousness (0.00017)

A scatterplot showing which proportion of articles each year are in the radical translationtopic. The x-axis shows the year, the y-axis measures the proportion of articles each year in this topic. There is one dot per year. The highest value is in 1975 when 2.4% of articles were in this topic. The lowest value is in 1899 when 0.0% of articles were in this topic. The full table that provides the data for this graph is available in Table A.60 in Appendix A.

Figure 2.140: Radical translation.

A set of twelve scatterplots showing the proportion of articles in each journal in each year that are in the Radical Translationtopic. There is one scatterplot for each of the twelve journals that are the focus of this book. In each scatterplot, the x-axis is the year, and the y-axis is the proportion of articles in that year in that journal in this topic. Here are the average values for each of the twelve scatterplots - these tell you on average how much of the journal is dedicated to this topic. Mind - 0.7%. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society - 0.8%. Ethics - 0.2%. Philosophical Review - 0.7%. Analysis - 1.1%. Philosophy and Public Affairs - 0.1%. Journal of Philosophy - 1.7%. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research - 0.9%. Philosophy of Science - 0.8%. Noûs - 2.3%. The Philosophical Quarterly - 1.1%. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science - 1.0%. The topic reaches its zenith in year 1975 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 2.3% of the articles. And it hits a minimum in year 1899 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 0.0% of the articles.

Figure 2.141: Radical translation articles in each journal.

Table 2.148: Characteristic articles of the radical translation topic.
Table 2.149: Highly cited articles in the radical translation topic.


This feels like a narrow topic to me, but the numbers suggest it is almost exactly the median size of topic. I think this is because the Journal of Philosophy published a lot of articles on indeterminacy of translation from the 1950s all the way through at least the 1990s. Indeed, 111 of the 342 articles in this topic are from the Journal of Philosophy.

Within philosophy of language, this topic feels like a bridge between the Wittgensteinian work done before and immediately after the war, and the work post-Montague that is more continuous with linguistics. There is some level of formalism in the papers here, but nothing like the Montagovian works.

The core figure in this topic is clearly Quine, but the topic gets a second burst of life in the mid-1970s. That slowly fades away, but never quite ends.

And it is possible that Robbie Williams’s work will lead to a reversal of the downward trend. Indeed, one could squint and almost make out that it had already reversed the trend by the late 2000s. Here are the papers Robbie had in the data-set as of 2013, though he has published much more in these journals since then.

Table 2.150: Articles with author Robbie Williams.
Year Article Subject Probability
2006 J. Robert G. Williams, 2006, “An Argument for the Many,” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 106:411–9. Vagueness 0.8076
2007 J. Robert G. Williams, 2007, “Eligibility and Inscrutability,” Philosophical Review 116:361–99. Radical Translation 0.3205
2008 J. Robert G. Williams, 2008, “Chances, Counterfactuals, and Similarity,” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 77:385–420. Modality 0.3451
2008 J. R. G. Williams, 2008, “Supervaluationism and Logical Revisionism,” Journal of Philosophy 105:192–212. Vagueness 0.3348
2008 J. R. G. Williams, 2008, “Multiple Actualities and Ontically Vague Identity,” The Philosophical Quarterly 58:134–54. Vagueness 0.3929
2008 J. R. G. Williams, 2008, “The Price of Inscrutability,” Noûs 42:600–41. Radical Translation 0.2846
2010 J. Robert G. Williams, 2010, “Defending Conditional Excluded Middle,” Noûs 44:650–68. Formal Epistemology 0.3867
2010 J. R. G. Williams, 2010, “Fundamental and Derivative Truths,” Mind 119:103–41. Radical Translation 0.1836
2012 J. Robert G. Williams, 2012, “Indeterminacy and Normative Silence,” Analysis 72:217–25. Vagueness 0.4052
2012 J. Robert G. Williams, 2012, “Counterfactual Triviality: A Lewis-Impossibility Argument for Counterfactuals,” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85:648–70. Formal Epistemology 0.5020
2013 J. Robert G. Williams, 2013, “Part-Intrinsicality,” Noûs 47:431–52. Personal Identity 0.3477