David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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The central problem of the dissertation concerns the possibility of a distinction between truth-evaluable and non-truth-evaluable utterances of a natural language. The class of truth-evaluable utterances includes assertions, con. ectures and other kinds of speech act susceptible of truth evaluation. The class of non-truth-evaluable utterances includes commands, exhortations, wishes i.e. utterances not evaluated as being true or false. The problem is placed in the context of radical interpretation theory and it shown that it is a substantial problem of Davidson‘s early theory of radical interpret at ion. I consider the possibility of distinguishing between locutionary and illocutionary act in uttering a sentence and its significance in the present project. I discuss the suggestion that the mood of the verb of the sentence signifies the required distinction between truth-evaluable utterances and non-truth-evaluable ones. I argue that no criterion for the distinction based on the mood of the verb is adequate. The solution that I propose to the problem of classifylng truth-evaluable utterances appeals to mental states. The view that grounds this line of inquiry is that the truth-evaluability of an utterance is a characteristic of it exclusively relevant to the doxastic dimension of the speaker’s mind. I discuss the constraints that the nature of radical interpretation puts upon the way we construe the notion of belief. I propose that a possible classification of mental states into doxastic and non-doxastic that would result in a classification of utterances into truth-evaluable and non-truthevaluable ones can be given by an elaborated version of a decision theoretic scheme. I suggest that a decision theoretic scheme based on a decision theory that, like Savage’s theory, grants independence axioms is a better candidate to offer a solution to the central problem of the dissertation than a scheme based on a non- standard decision theory such as Richard Jeffrey’s. I conclude by showing that the proposal I make satisfies the constraints I have considered and that it can be accommodated by a radical interpretation theory.
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