Philosophical Studies 137 (3):389 - 398 (2008)
|Abstract||This essay offers a constructive criticism of Part I of Davis’ Meaning, Expression and Thought. After a brief exposition, in Sect. 2, of the main points of the theory that will concern us, I raise a challenge in Sect. 3 for the characterization of expression that is so central to his program. I argue first of all that a sincere expression of a thought, feeling, or mood shows it. Yet attention to this fact reveals that it does not go without saying how it is possible to show such things as thoughts, feelings or moods; we need an account of how this is possible, and I offer a partial such account in Sect. 4. Second, much of the attraction of Davis’ program depends on its ability to explain how linguistic meaning can be arrived at without covertly presupposing linguistic conventions. This in turn depends, in Davis’ hands, upon the claim that it is possible to express any of a wide range of ideas in the absence of conventions. I argue in Sect. 5 that the account of showing at which we will by then have arrived makes clear that Davis needs, and lacks, an explanation of how it is possible to do this.|
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