Anthropology, Indeterminacy and


Joaquín Jareño Alarcón


The recognition of cultural relativism as a fact is a contribution made by anthropological work. It is the result of the huge diversity of cultural practices, and the complexity of the different manifestations of human beings' interests. Nevertheless, if this complexity is so huge that we cannot compare between such practices, Anthropology -as science- is not possible. That is, it does not make any sense to attempt to develop a science of Anthropology. If we think of different cultures as different symbolic systems, we are left with the problem that we cannot make a comparison between them. According to cultural relativism, the social character of meaning results in an incommensurability between different systems. So, if we accept that there is a compartmentalisation between cultures, or between social contexts, Anthropology is not possible, given that we cannot enter a context different from our own.

To examine the importance of the relativist thesis in Anthropology, as well as some of its failures and contradictions, the guiding lines of this paper are the following:

To solve the problems arising from the attempt to start anthropological work, we have to justify the existence of common elements between different cultures, departing, so to speak, from "ours". Our basis for examining whether this is possible will be the study of language and the possibilities of communication and translation between different linguistic systems. To attain that goal, I will start my consideration with an analysis of the importance of the idea of incommensurability. To do this, I will examine Th.S.Kuhn's and P.K.Feyerabend's contributions. Understanding incommensurability as no-intertranslatability, I will analyse W.v.O.Quine's thesis on the indeterminacy of translation, stressing some of its problems. At the same time, while joining the indeterminacy of translation with the ontological relativity thesis, I will try to reflect on some of the inconsequences arising from both theses as well as I will reflect on those elements that allow us to overcome the difficulties arising from the acceptance of them.

Th.S.Kuhn, as well as P.K.Feyerabend [2] , understood incommensurability as the unintelligibility of affirmations between different domains of discourse. According to this interpretation of incommensurability, those statements of one domain lack sense if they are introduced in a different one. Both authors used this concept to oppose the positivistic idea of development in sciences, understood as a lineal process of progressive acummulation of knowledge.

The term incommensurability has been used very successfully in recent discussions in philosophy of science, and the echoes of the debates about the value of such a concept are still present [3] . For Kuhn, the idea of incommensurability is strongly linked to that of paradigm, so that the statements in a paradigm are unintelligible in a different one. They cannot be coherently interpreted in a rival paradigm. In what actually matters to us, the domain of anthropological reflection, we can basically identify the value we give to a paradigm [4] with that of the idea of a cultural context; that context being the place where meaning is socially constructed.

For Kuhn, the paradigms tell scientists which kind of entities inhabit the Universe, and the way such entities behave; at the same time, the paradigms give information about the questions that can be asked about Nature, and the techniques that can be properly used in the search for answers to those questions. According to Kuhn, the development of paradigms implies the existence of a Gestalt, a perception of the world, unavoidably linked to that language describing it. Thus, change from one paradigm to another cannot be achieved by derivation. Rather, the process of change in such cases is best described, according to Kuhn, as a process of scientific revolution. With the change of a paradigm the world itself changes [5] , and when scientific revolutions happen, the scientists see new and different things when they use old tools and look at things which they had looked at before.

Changes between paradigms are not, then, guided by logic, and the result such changes lead us to is a modification in the way people link the theoretical apparatus with nature; a redefinition of that link, such that the perception of reality becomes different. The change of a paradigm gives way to a change in the conceptual scheme, due to the fact that a change in those rational criteria that guarantee the development of scientific work, as well as a modification of those values and beliefs that are at their basis, is implied. There is no objective guarantee to provide a comparison between paradigms. The transition between them, in so far as there is incommensurability between their terms and concepts, can be achieved only by means of a sort of conversion [6] .

The radicality of this proposal can be seen clearly when we take into account one of its basic assumptions: there is no such language as the neutral language of experience. Observation is not organised in a language that, so to speak, immediately puts us into contact with experience. Language depends on the theory it belongs to, on the theory where it is given shape, so that two different theories cannot be compared. Kuhn reassessed his conclusions appealing to the psychological conditionings of perception: two different people could see different objects though they were receiving the same stimulus [7] . So, perceptive learning can condition our way of understanding the world.

The final conclusion is that those who posit incommensurable theories cannot communicate between them, ..., but they cannot justify their disagreements either. According to Kuhn [8] , two people in the same place looking in the same direction must receive the same stimulus. But what they see is not the stimulus but the sensation. In the interval between them there is a sort of conditioning by means of education and learning, so that those individuals growing in different communities would proceed as if they saw different things [9] . This implies that there could be different discourses on reality, although one whole conceptual scheme could remain fixed and be transmitted from one generation to another. This conceptual relativism is intimately connected to what matters to us in this work. It is linked to cultural relativism, in so far as sharing learning is but sharing interests, language and culture. For a relativist, the survival character of perceptual mechanisms is extreemly important. We transmit to each other the ways of seeing that bear those group testings that are more effective in positively ordering groups' behaviour, and that give way to such order because they provide a better adaptation to the environment.

If the process of perceptive learning is something particular to a group, we have as a result the closed and exclusive character of, in Kuhn's case, those sides engaged in scientific debates when the revolution is about to come. In the case of interest to us, we can speak of different cultures as the subject matter of Anthropology. In such cases, there is a big problem when we want to justify communication as well as in regard to the interpretation we are trying to make of a different culture: the existence of incommensurability between languages representing different approaches to reality prevents us from having any kind of, so to speak, conversation. This interrupted, Kuhn's proposal is as follows [10] : what those engaged in a broken conversation can do is to realise that they are members of different communities with different languages, and then become translators.

When anthropologists work with cultures, they are confronted by this limitation. What was supposed to be the tool to gain access to them -language- is just an insurmountable obstacle. If we accept that the patterns to construct meaning have a fundamental social character, it is unavoidable to conclude that the cultural systems are closed "wholes". This circumstance conditions the value of any attempt to understand any other culture different from ours. Such understanding would only be possible in the case one could have some sort of translation between those meanings that the cultures provide. Because languages depend upon different conceptual schemes, arising from the different ways through which traditions and institutions develop, the question of a possibly accurate translation is something that remains open to discussion. Proper knowledge and understanding of those attitudes and beliefs that we are going to encounter, is only possible if we accept that there is such an option as an achievable accurate translation into our language. However, given the fact that there are no objective facts of meaning, there seems not to be any possibility of verifying that the intended translation is right and, together with that, we would also find difficulty in understanding how other cultures approach reality. These theses are the indeterminacy of translation thesis and the ontological relativity thesis.

The indeterminacy of translation thesis states [11] the impossibility of knowing whether one has ever achieved a correct translation between two different languages. As such, this thesis was posited by W.v.O.Quine in his work Word and Object. The problem Quine wants to stress is that we cannot be sure about what our interlocutors are referring to in their speeches, so that we are unable to determine what conceptual scheme and what ontology they share. We could be sharing identical schemes, but there would be no possible way to know it from observable behaviour, which is the only thing we can speak about with certain rigor. So, if we are led to conclude that it is impossible to enter another context different from ours, Anthropology cannot be a science [12] .

Thus, we can see one of the negative effects provided by Quine's thesis. All anthropological work is affected if the Quinean proposal is right. Nevertheless, it is not true that a failure in translation, the impossibility of guaranteeing objectivity in communication, indicates that we are before different rationalities. For Quine, it would imply only that we go blind when talking about facts of meaning. We could be perfectly sharing conceptual schemes, but it is incredibly difficult to show it through observable behaviour. However, in our opinion, the result is that the acceptance of Quine's thesis leads us to relativism, due to the fact that we cannot guarantee any kind of objectivity: if we cannot be sure about our knowledge of the values and interests appearing in the linguistic behaviour of members of other cultures, there is no reason to think that our interlocutors share any cultural assumption. This would be the unavoidable conclusion coming from Quine's behaviourism. When anthropologists have tried to understand other cultures, they have used the native language as a fundamental tool: those elements of expression and communication by means of which the members of the group understand each other.

The other  Quinean thesis is that of referential opacity, or the inscrutability of reference. This thesis comes from the idea that any word is related to a language. Depends upon it to acquire meaning. The reference could be the same for native and linguist, but neither of them would know it. This would remain beyond the many hypotheses the linguist wanted to use. To say which are the objects one is speaking about is, according to Quine, the same as to make a proposal for translation, that is, how to propose a translation of his/her terms and sentences to ours. [13] This is what leads Quine to stress that the translator imposes as much as he/she discovers; he/she imposes upon the native his/her ontology in order to assimilate the native's behaviour (verbal and non-verbal). So, different manuals of translation could be perfectly compatible with the behaviour under study. There is no way to find any objective point and no way to know which manual is, so to speak, the right answer.

The conclusion we reach is obviously discouraging. The question is not whether translation is or is not possible. In fact, anthropologist's attempts to make a translation seem to work without any major problems. But we will never obtain a coherent and definite justification of it beyond the fact of practical success; and this would frustrate the results obtained. Any attempt to justify anthropological objectivity would be open to question. So, cultural incommensurability, supported by these considerations, would seem to guarantee relativism.

Some problems about the indeterminacy of translation thesis.

The exposition Quine does of the issue of translation is, as it was stressed before, an unavoidable result of his linguistic behaviourism. Its main elements are the correlations between stimulus and response. There are no mental entities to justify the process of meaning, what we have to deal with is just dispositions to verbally response to external stimuli. That would be the only way to guarantee an objective study of linguistic meaning.

The problems derived from the assumption of those implications coming from Quine’s arguments, have effect on the comparison between theories; and so become an obstacle to properly compare or study different cultures. The same difficulties apply to the traditionally named scietific theories as well as to social sciences like Anthropology. According to W.H.Newton-Smith [14] , if there is no objective point to justify the continuity or divergence between different discourses, languages or traditions, the point about what a, so to speak, former scientist wanted to say is basically nonsense. What we have is simply different and equally valid ways to give an interpretation of his/her affirmations.

According to Quine, indeterminacy of translation leads to inscrutability of reference. This thesis states that we can have alternative interpretations equally valid about the reference of the terms of a theory, because there is no truth about which one of the interpretations is right. If reference is inscrutable, there is no possible way to discover what other individuals were referring to or talking about. To compare theories, we need a translation and a specification of the reference. But, if Quine is right, and there is no unique translation, there will be no answer for the question: “Has your theory more or less truth than mine?” [15]

The indeterminacy of translation was Quine’s interpretation of the problem of incommensurability. Nevertheless, Quine rejected the accusations of being relativist by stressing his commitment as a realist [16] . For him, the last criterion to speak about reality was Physics [17] , and he has been adopting a realist attitude towards it [18] .

Such proposal as Quine’s is, despite of his coherence, has been accused of many failures, and this could not be otherwise due to its particularly strong implications for issues concerning not only linguistics but anthropological knowledge as well. To start with, his theses lack some accuracy about how meaningful human behaviour works. That is, his linguistic behaviourism impells him to accept very radical views that collide with some broadly accepted considerations about the intentionalist character of human conduct. P.M.S.Hacker expresses it as follows:

“The field linguist’s point of access, according to Quine, is the one-word observation sentence, assent and dissent to which are allegedly identifiable inductively. But assent and dissent are intensional (as well as intentional) notions; a person assents not to a sentence –that is, to an assertion that things are thus-and-so- and assents to what he understands inasmuch as he believes it to be true. The identification of assent and dissent therefore presupposes viewing the observed behaviour not as mere bodily movement, but intentionalistically- and it is not obvious that Quine’s austere behaviourism entitles him to this intentional stance” [19]

For Quine, if we want to understand a different language or a different conceptual shceme, we have to translate it. There is a difference between those activities. Understanding has to do with abilities, and translating is something one becomes engaged in. That means that they are different, and one depends on the other. Translating (and interpreting) [20] presupposes understanding [21] . This is shown in the way we behave. The responses we give show how we have achieved to understand others’ intentional behaviour. It is seen in what we do. This is also the way to show that we share the same basic form of life of that culture, or language alien –in principle- to us. To negate this, would mean to negate the possibility of considering others as human and, then, to be in any kind of meaningful contact.

Another point of controversy is that of the problem of reference/ontology. According to Quine, the inscrutability of reference is the basis for the indeterminacy of translation. Departing from observable behaviour, we have no possibility of knowing that with respect to which the terms of a language are true. For Donald Davidson, this idea is but supporting a relativist view on reference. Davidson accepted some of Quine’s ideas, though not the derivations coming from them. In a very clear account of his own point of view, Davidson wrote that he accepted Quine’s inscrutability of reference and the indeterminacy of translation. But he realised the existence of some problems concerning the derivations of these theses. For Davidson, reference cannot be relativized the way Quine thinks it possible. For him, the whole ontology is something fixed.

It seems to be true that two different schemes would equally assign truth value to certain statements, given that the point of departure would be in facts or, so to speak, those objective situations provoking assent or dissent. The empirical equivalence is valuable as such. Nevertheless, it does not allow us to justify nor determine the existence of referents in an univocal way (for Quine, the referential relation between objects and terms is relative to an arbitrary chosing of a scheme of reference or manual of translation). Understanding semantical traits as something public, and assuming that they are affected by indeterminacy, there seems to be no such thing as a unique reference [22] .

If Quine is true, reference as well as ontology can be fixed relative to a scheme. But to say that reference is fixed to a language implies considering that language as a language-object. That is, we can only take into account such circumstance if we make a metalinguistic use of terms. We can only speak of that relativity if we go back to a different language, but if we do that we have to keep on doing it. We have to repeat the same procedure again and again, and we could not see any end for it. This is one of the obvious failures of relativism. To talk about relativity we have to go out of it, and then reject it. This is something valid for the problem of ontology as well. If, as Quine states, ontology is relative to a scheme or system of coordinates, this can only be stated if we can reinterpret the ontology in terms of a different theory. However, this process has the same problems pointed before. Such ontological relativity could not be deduced from those decisions with respect to schemes.

For Davidson, the conclusion is as follows: what we can see is not that the reference is not relative, but that there is no intelligible way to relativize it to justify the concept of ontological relativity [23] . The speakers of a language, sharing a scheme, can answer questions about reference from their own scheme. That is, the scheme allows us to give answers to the questions concerning what the speakers want to say by means of their propositions, but the reference cannot be specified in an absolute way. Nevertheless, the existence of reference can be justified and guaranteed. There is, then, a reasonable way to relativize truth and reference, avoiding the problems of the strong relativist proposal, as Quine’s seems to be. We need a scheme to understand any object of the world, because objects, so to speak, do not exist apart from conceptual schemes. This is a way to reject metaphysical realism, but it does not imply the truth of relativism. We cannot be apart from our own thoughts to compare them with reality; nevertheless, this is not relativism but, in Putnam’s words, some sort of pragmatic realism.

What we have, then, is not that there is a unique way to approach reality, but neither the opposite radical view is true. A sort of compromise between the different points of view seems to be a practical solution. The anthropologist has to face many difficulties and limitations when dealing with his/her object of study but, nevertheless, he/she has some tools to justify his/her work. The reality of different cultures, languages, traditions, etc., is something he/she has to face because that is the only way to work. This implies the acceptance of those limitations the extremes of which are present in the incommensurability and indeterminacy of translation theses. We may not guarantee absolute accuracy in our study, but that does not mean that we cannot approach any sort of justification for our investigations. The limits of cultural study are the limits of the communication of meaning. Interpretation (as well as translation) of other cultures, domains of discourse, etc., has to do with our ability to recognize similitudes in others, that is, to realise the importance of those patterns of behaviour common to all of us. To understand a sentence means to understand a language, and this means the understanding of a form of life [24] .

Some problems for the incommensurability thesis.

Talking about incommensurability means talking about the absence of that common element by means of which we are able to compare two different discourses. This absence allows us to justify the existence of, so to speak, communicative incapacity between those individuals supporting different systems, so that there cannot occur any interchange of meaning between them. Those systems are closed and limited in themselves. Thus understood, incommensurability supports a relativist conception of reality.

For H.Putnam [25] , the incommensurability thesis is self-refuting. If that thesis shows the impossibility in the equivalence of meaning or reference between terms of different systems (cultures, we could say), we could neither translate other languages to ours, nor previous stages of our own language to our present one. Analyzing Kuhn's and Feyerabend's points of view [26] , Putnam states that if they were true, we could only characterise the members of other cultures as animals producing responses to stimuli (including amongst them those noises that, curiously, seem to be Italian, Spanish or English words). We cannot say that our conceptions differ, and in what they are different, if we cannot translate them. This is the result of proposing theses like incommensurability.

A consistent relativist should not treat others as the speakers they are (or as rational beings). If the sounds they produce are incommensurable, then, they are nothing but noise. According to Putnam, we cannot proclaim the validity of the incommensurability thesis without going beyond it. But we cannot do that if we do not reject it.

D.Davidson also criticizes Kuhn's view on the importance and implications of incommensurability. For Davidson, speaking of different scientists working in different worlds is but a metaphorical use of terms [27] . Davidson develops an exhaustive criticism of the conceptual relativism subjacent to proposals like that of the incommensurability thesis. For relativists, there is a close connection between a conceptual scheme and the language in which it is expressed. According to such a point of view, reality is related to a scheme (understood as a system of categories organising experience). Different schemes could not be true counterparts for those who subscribe to each particular one. Davidson, when examining B. Lee Whorf’s proposals [28] , stressed that whenever Lee Whorf tries to show that “Hopi” and “English” cannot be compared because of their different metaphysics, he uses English to explain the content of Hopi statements [29] .

Whorf asserts that language produces a certain organisation of experience, classifying the stream of sensorial experience resulting in a certain order of the world [30] . In this sense, the existence of a basic difference between English and Hopi seems to be obvious. For Whorf, Hopi language is equipped with tools to deal with phenomena that our scientific terminology cannot really express well. That is simply because Hopi language establishes a contrast between kinds of experience different from those that our scientific language is able to distinguish [31] . Davidson thinks that the differences are not so huge that we cannot express them without making use of a unique language. So, he reminds us that Kuhn is using a postrevolutionary language when he wants to talk about what happened before a scientific revolution. For Davidson, it does make sense to talk about different points of view, but only if there is a common coordinated system in which to represent them. If there is a common system, a huge incomparability is something contradictory.

When we want to give an interpretation of the attitudes and beliefs we think are present in our interlocutor’s utterances, we have to assume the possibility of translating what he/she says into our language. If we cannot achieve translation, we could conclude his/her conceptual system is absolutely alien to ours. But, according to Davidson, what is true is that we do not live in different worlds, we are only separated by words. We understand something as a language if it is in relation to experience, organising it. This organisation is due to the ontology subjacent to language, allowing us to individuate objects. When we establish a predicative correlation between two different languages we can presuppose there is a common ontology. So, when we organise experience we can ask about how much similitude exists in those possibilities of organisation. According to Davidson, there is an inevitable organisational affinity.

At the same time, to begin understanding another language, we have to presume the speaker is basically right with respect to what he/she says. That is the so-called principle of charity. We need to admit that our interlocutors are rational, and that they are basically logical and coherent; that they have beliefs. If we are able to reconcile charity with the formal conditions for a theory, we have done everything we need to assure communication, says Davidson. Nothing else is possible, but we do not need anything else [32] .

Our attempts to understand what others say must be made in terms of an optimization of agreement, because there is no intelligible foundation that justifies that the so-called different schemes are really different. Otherwise, we would be accepting what Davidson calls the third dogma of empiricism: the dualism scheme/content (reality). If this dualism were true, we could not judge if other individuals have ideas, attitudes or absolutely different beliefs. Nevertheless, this is what we actually do. We do judge. To credit beliefs and rationality to those who supposedly own a conceptual scheme different to ours, is something fundamental if we want to admit they really take part in that scheme. But if we presuppose that the scheme is absolutely alien to ours, we cannot justify our belief in the rationality of others. We have no element to guarantee it. As M.Hollis says, we cannot understand what is irrational [33] .

To achieve the goals of communication, we have to presume beforehand the internal coherence of what others utter; though such coherence could be understood in more than one way [34] . The only difficulty, then, would be a difference between words.

Incommensurability, in terms of our interest in this paper, shows the extent of the social nature of knowledge. It is true that, by means of learning, all conventions and institutions become, so to speak, assimilated by individuals. These make cultural variables present in any particular situation, giving sense to behaviour and making it be symbolically coherent. Nevertheless, to say that how the world is, depends upon the social elements within our interpretations, is just going too far. According to D.Bloor [35] , the way to comprehend the world and adapt to it singularly reflects our physical limits and mental capacities, giving way to a whole system of interrelations by means of which we have a firm view of the world. But this process is prejudiced by our learning; a typically social process. So, we have the union of language and conceptual scheme, and consequently at the same time we have different groups with huge discrepancies, because language is learnt at the same time as we learn those conventions that support it. This is precisely the point of view we are criticising.

If the relativist thesis of incommensurability is true, anthropologists, as scientists, cannot propose any questions nor suggest any answers. As M.Hollis points out, if Anthropology were to be possible, the natives have to share with us our concepts of truth, coherence and rational interdependence of beliefs [36] . Despite the possibility that we can have problems with our communication, we can know many things about our interlocutors. It is true that translation is a key point in determining whether the relativist thesis about cultures is true [37] but, accepting the limitations in achieving an accurate translation, communication is possible, and common practice provides evidence for this.

We cannot go beyond our thoughts to compare them with reality [38] ; it is true that those entities we deal with are as much constructed as discovered. It is true that objectivity is, in a sense, objectivity for us, and the idea of a metaphysical spectator is of no real use. But our conceptions of coherence and acceptability are closely linked to our psychology. They depend on our biology, though they can be affected by our culture, and particular interests and values. Nevertheless, as Putnam points out [39] , we share even with the strangest culture we can imagine, a huge number of suppositions and beliefs about what is reasonable. This is a crucial point we have to bear in mind, because it reminds us of the importance of a conception of human nature, whatever we want to say with that term.

[1] This paper is part of a work sponsored by the Fundación Caja de Madrid

[2] R.Harré and M.Krausz (Varieties of Relativism. Blackwell, Oxford 1996, p.194) point that Feyerabend's main arguments about this topic where influenced by B.L.Whorf's Language, Thought and Reality.

[3] Cf., for example, L.Fernández Moreno: "¿Es la Tesis de la Inconmensurabilidad Incoherente?"; in: C.Solís (ed.): Alta Tensión: Filosofía, Sociología e Historia de la Ciencia. Paidós, Barcelona 1998. Also: S.D.Hales: "A Consisten Relativism". Mind, vol.106, n.421, Jan.1997, pp.33-52.

[4] To avoid M.Masterman's criticisms to the concept of paradigm ("The Nature of a Paradigm"; in: I.Lakatos and A.Musgrave: Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1970, pp.55-90) I will give a wide meaning to that concept, understood as a scientific theory as well as a specific way to work in science. Some criticisms on Kuhn's points of view can be seen in: D.Shapere, "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions", Philosophical Review, vol.73 (1964), pp.383-394; also from the same author: "Meaning and Scientific Change", in: Mind and Cosmos: Essays in Contemporary Science and Philosophy, The University of Pittsburgh Series in the Philosophy of Science III, Pittsburgh 1966, pp.41-85; G.Doppelt, "Kuhn's Epistemological Relativism", Inquiry, vol.21 (1978) pp.33-86; P.Achinstein, Concepts of Science, Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press 1968; G.Buchdahl, "A Revolution in Historiography of Science", History of Science, vol.4 (1965), pp.55-69.

[5] Cf. Th.S.Kuhn: La Estructura de las Revoluciones Científicas. Fondo de Cultura Económica, Madrid 1982, p.176. Some of the basic concepts used by Kuhn can be seen in an article published in 1963: "Scientific Paradigms", appeared in: Estudios sobre Sociología de la Ciencia (Spanish Edition), B.Barnes, Th.S.Kuhn, R.Merton et al. Alianza Editorial, Madrid 1980, pp.79-100.

[6] Cf., La Estructura de las Revoluciones Científicas, p.235.

[7] Cf., ibid., p.198.

[8] Cf. "Reflections on my Critics"; in: I.Lakatos and A.Musgrave (eds.): Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge, p.276.

[9] Cf. Th.S.Kuhn, Posdata 1969, in: La Estructura de las Revoluciones Científicas, p.295.

[10] Posdata 1969, p.308.

[11] The thesis is as follows: manuals for translating one language into another can be set up in divergent ways, all compatible with the totality of speech dispositions, yet incompatible with one another. W.v.O.Quine, Palabra y Objeto. Ed Labor, Barcelona 1968.

[12] There would be no possible way to justify any kind of objectivity. Appealing to intersubjectivity to construct objectivity would be of no help in this case. We would need first of all to justify the possibility of achieving the real possibility for such a sort of communication. (To see an attempt to justify objectivity in terms of intersubjectivity, read J.Fabian's "Ethnographic Objectivity Revisited: From Rigor to Vigor"; in: A.Megill (ed.) Rethinking Objectivity, 1994, pp.81-104).

[13] Cf. Teorías y Cosas, Fondo de Cultura Económica. México 1986, p.30.

[14] Cf. La Racionalidad de la Ciencia. Paidós Studio, Barcelona 1987, pp.197-198.

[15] Cf. Ibid., p.198.

[16] Cf. Teorías y Cosas. UNAM, México 1986, p.31.

[17] Cf. W.V.O.Quine: “To Chomsky”; Synthese XIX, 1/2 (1968), p.303.

[18] Indeed, he criticises the possibility of cultural relativism. See his “On Empirically Equivalent Systems of the World”, Erkenntnis, vol. 9 (1975), p.328.

[19] Wittgenstein’s Place in Twentieth-Century Analytic Philosophy. Blackwell, Oxford 1996, p.218 (italics in the original).

[20] These are different activities, but I am going to take them together.

[21] Unless this is so, they remain unsettled. They remain, so to speak, in the air. See L.Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations *198.

[22] Cf. J.Searle, “Indeterminacy, Empiricism, and the First Person”. The Journal of Philosophy, vol.84, n.3 (1987) p.140.

[23] Cf. De la Verdad y la Interpretación. Fundamentales Contribuciones a la Filosofía del Lenguaje. Gedisa, Barcelona 1990, p.140.

[24] Cf. L.Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations **23/241.

[25] Cf. Razón, Verdad e Historia. Tecnos, Madrid 1988, p.119. Putnam makes some interesting considerations about his basic point of view in his Las Mil Caras del Realismo. Paidós/ICE-UAB, Barcelona 1994.

[26] To have a comprehensive view on Feyerabend's contributions, see his works: Adiós a la Razón. Tecnos, Madrid 1992; Contra el Método. Ariel, Barcelona 1981; Límites de la Ciencia. Paidós/ICE-UAB, Barcelona 1989; "An Attempt at a Realistic Interpretation of Expericence", Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, vol. 58 (1958), pp.143-170; "Changing Patterns of Reconstruction", British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, vol.28 (1977); "Patterns of Discovery", in: R.G.Colodny (ed.) Beyond the Edge of Certainty, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey 1965, pp.145-260.

[27] Cf. “De la Idea Misma de un Esquema Conceptual”, in: D.Davidson, op. cit., p.192.

[28] Cf. Benjamin L.Whorf: Language, Thougt and Reality: Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf. Comp. J.B.Carroll, The Technology Press of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass. 1956.

[29] Cf. D.Davidson, op. Cit., p.189.

[30] Cf. B.L.Whorf, op. Cit., p.55.

[31] Cf. Ibid., pp.55-56.

[32] Cf. D.Davidson, op. cit., p.202.

[33] Cf. M.Hollis: “The Limits of Irrationality”. Archives Européennes de Sociologie, vol.8, n.2, 1967, p.271.

[34] Cf. Ibid., p.271.

[35] Knowledge and Social Imagery. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago 1991, p.45.

[36] M.Hollis, op. cit., p.269.

[37] Incommensurability is equal to no-intertranslatability.

[38] Cf. H.Putnam, Las Mil Caras del Realismo. Paidós/ICE-UAB. Barcelona 1994, p.13.

[39] Cf. Razón, Verdad e Historia, p.64.