Triangulation, untranslatability, and reconciliation

Philosophia 37 (2):261-280 (2009)
Abstract
Donald Davidson used triangulation to do everything from explicate psychological and semantic externalism, to attack relativism and skepticism, to propose conditions necessary for thought and talk. At one point Davidson tried to bring order to these remarks by identifying three kinds of triangulation, each operative in a different situation. Here I take seriously Davidson’s talk of triangular situations and extend it. I start by describing Davidson’s situations. Next I establish the surprising result that considerations from one situation entail the possibility that at any one time one language is partially untranslatable into another. Because the possibility is time-indexed, it need not conflict with Davidson’s own argument against the possibility of untranslatability. I derive the result, not to indict Davidson, but to propose a new kind of triangulation, the reconciliation of untranslatability, which I investigate. Insofar as triangulation is central to Davidson’s views, getting a handle on his various triangular situations is key to getting a handle on his contributions to philosophy. Insofar as those contributions have enriched our understanding of how language, thought, and reality interrelate, extending Davidson’s model promises to extend our understanding too.
Keywords Davidson, Donald  triangulation  radical interpretation  principle of charity  language learning  reconciliation
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References found in this work BETA
Jason Bridges (2006). Davidson's Transcendental Externalism. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 73 (2):290-315.

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Citations of this work BETA
Nathaniel Goldberg (2011). Interpreting Thomas Kuhn as a Response-Dependence Theorist. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 19 (5):729 - 752.
Ben Kotzee (2014). Language Learning in Wittgenstein and Davidson. Studies in Philosophy and Education 33 (4):413-431.
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