puzzles from the later Quine on meaning and synonymy
In the Quine volume of the Library of Living Philosophers, Quine says the following in his "Reply to Alston":
"It would be reasonable to refer to those conditions [="the conditions under which a sentence may be uttered"] collectively as the meaning of the sentence."
But "the synonymy relation gains no support from this notion of meaning. The reason is that, on this notion of meaning, no two sentences can have the same meaning; for no two sentences are wholly alike in their conditions of utterance." (1986, p.73)
That last claim strikes me as implausible; is that just me and my un-Quinean prejudices? Is there a decent argument for Quine's claim that two sentences never have the same conditions of utterance?
That's my main question. But I should mention that Quine gives his own very terse argument: "A sentence can be uttered only to the exclusion of all other sentences, and// hence only under conditions not totally shared, if we grant determinism" (73-74). But that strikes me as a (for lack of a better word) weird argument, for at least two reasons. 1. The fact that sentence A is uttered instead of sentence B at a given time and place does not mean that B could not have been uttered (note that the definition of 'meaning' is the conditions under which a sentence MAY be uttered, not IS (ACTUALLY) uttered. 2. I would've thought that any reasonable notion of 'conditions of utterance' would not require the conditions to be specified up to the level of detail of full physical theory; that is, there could be physically different instantiations of the same 'conditions of utterance'. And it strikes me as very strange to require determinism at that linguistic level (even if we want to be hardcore determinists about physics): sometimes I just keep my mouth shut, even if there's some utterance that would have been fully appropriate for those conditions.