, Volume 55, Issue 1, pp 73-84

Understanding Quine's Famous `Statement'

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Abstract

I argue that Quine's famous claim, “any statement can be held true come what may”, demands an interpretation that implies that the meanings of the expressions in the held-true statement change. The intended interpretation of this claim is not clear from its context, and so it is often misunderstood by philosophers (and is misleadingly taught to their students). I explain Fodor and Lepore's (1992) view that the above interpretation would render Quine's assertion entirely trivial and reply, on both textual and philosophical grounds, that only this “trivial” reading is consistent with Quine's famous denial of analyticity. I also explain briefly how the “trivial” reading lends support to meaning holism, which, regardless of one's views of its consequences, is an important position in the philosophy of language and mind.