(2) The sort of irrationality that makes conceptual trouble is not the failure of someone else to believe or feel to do what we deem reasonable, but rather the failure, within a single person, of coherence or consistency in the pattern of beliefs, attitudes, emotions, intentions and actions.
§ Main Goals: 1. To construct a theory of meaning (a semantics) as Tarski does with a theory of truth. 2. To argue that the meaning of a sentence is nothing but its truth conditions. 3. To argue that a characterization of a truth predicate describes the required kind of structure, and provides a clear and testable criterion of an adequate semantics for a natural language.
1. The first such problem concerns the clarity of the notion of lying to oneself. Is it possible to lie to oneself? ___ who is being deceived? Who is doing the deceiving? ___ how is one communicating to oneself in the act of self-deception? (internal dialogue?) ___ Is lying something one can do without knowing it?
The dispute between Schlick and Neurath over het foundations of empirical knowledge illustrates the difficulties m trymg to draw epistemological conclusions from a verificationist theory of meaning. It also shows how assummg the general correctness of science does not automatically avoid, or provide an easy answer to, skepticism. But while neither Schlick nor Neurath arrived at a satisfactory account of empüical knowledge, there are promising hmts of a better theory m their writmgs. Following up these hints, and drawing on further (...) ideas m Hempel, Carnap and particularly Quine, I suggest the direction I think a naturalistic epistemology should take. (shrink)
The Essential Davidson compiles the most celebrated papers of one of the twentieth century's greatest philosophers. It distills Donald Davidson's seminal contributions to our understanding of ourselves, from three decades of essays, into one thematically organized collection. A new, specially written introduction by Ernie Lepore and Kirk Ludwig, two of the world's leading authorities on his work, offers a guide through the ideas and arguments, shows how they interconnect, and reveals the systematic coherence of Davidson's worldview. Davidson's philosophical program is (...) organized around two connected projects. The first is that of understanding the nature of human agency. The second is that of understanding the nature and function of language, and its relation to the world. Accordingly, the first part of the book presents Davidson's investigation of reasons, causes, and intentions, which revolutionized the philosophy of action. This leads to his notable doctrine of anomalous monism, the view that all mental events are physical events, but that the mental cannot be reduced to the physical. The second part of the book presents the famous essays in which Davidson set out his highly original and influential philosophy of language, which founds the theory of meaning on the theory of truth. These fifteen classic essays will be invaluable for anyone interested in the study of mind and language. Fascinating though they are individually, it is only when drawn together that there emerges a compelling picture of man as a rational linguistic animal whose thoughts, though not reducible to the material, are part of the fabric of the world, and whose knowledge of his own mind, the minds of others, and the world around him is as fundamental to his nature as the power of thought and speech itself. (shrink)
Truth, Language, and History is the much-anticipated final volume of Donald Davidson's philosophical writings. In four groups of essays, Davidson continues to explore the themes that occupied him for more than fifty years: the relations between language and the world; speaker intention and linguistic meaning; language and mind; mind and body; mind and world; mind and other minds. He asks: what is the role of the concept of truth in these explorations? And, can a scientific world view make room for (...) human thought without reducing it to something material and mechanistic? Including a new introduction by his widow, Marcia Cavell, this volume completes Donald Davidson's colossal intellectual legacy. (shrink)
Problems of Rationality is the eagerly awaited fourth volume of Donald Davidson's philosophical writings. From the 1960s until his death in August 2003 Davidson was perhaps the most influential figure in English-language philosophy, and his work has had a profound effect upon the discipline. His unified theory of the interpretation of thought, meaning, and action holds that rationality is a necessary condition for both mind and interpretation. Davidson here develops this theory to illuminate value judgements and how we understand them; (...) to investigate what the conditions are for attributing mental states to an object or creature; and to grapple with the problems presented by thoughts and actions which seem to be irrational. Anyone working on knowledge, mind, and language will find these essays essential reading. (shrink)
In this paper, I credit Quine with having implicitly held a view I had long urged on him: externalism. Quine was the first fully to recognize that all there is to meaning is what we learn or absorb from observed usage. This entails the possibility of indeterminacy, thus destroying the myth of meanings. It also entails a powerful form of externalism. There is, of course, a counter-current in Quine's work of the mid century: the idea of stimulus meaning. Attractive as (...) this choice of empirical base is compared to such options as sense data, appearances, and percepts, it has serious difficulties. In general, an externalism which ties the contents of observation sentences and perceptual beliefs directly to the sorts of situations that usually make them true is superior to those forms of empiricism which introduce intermediaries between word and object. (shrink)
Donald Davidson has prepared a new edition of his classic 1980 collection of Essays on Actions and Events, including two additional essays. In this seminal investigation of the nature of human action, Davidson argues for an ontology which includes events along with persons and other objects. Certain events are identified and explained as actions when they are viewed as caused and rationalized by reasons; these same events, when described in physical, biological, or physiological terms, may be explained by appeal to (...) natural laws. The mental and the physical thus constitute irreducibly discrete ways of explaining and understanding events and their causal relations. -/- Among the topics discussed are: freedom to act; weakness of the will; the logical form of talk about actions, intentions, and causality; the logic of practical reasoning; Hume's theory of the indirect passions; and the nature and limits of decision theory. The introduction, cross-references, and appendices emphasize the relations between the essays and explain how Davidson's views have developed. -/- . (shrink)
Donald Davidson presents a new edition of the 1984 volume which set out his enormously influential philosophy of language. Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation has been a central point of reference and a focus of controversy in the subject ever since, and its influence has extended into linguistic theory, philosophy of mind, and epistemology. This new edition features an additional essay, previously uncollected. The central question which these essays address is what it is for words to mean what they do. (...) Davidson argues that a philosophically instructive theory of meaning should acknowledge the holistic nature of linguistic understanding, in that it should provide an interpretation of all utterances, actual and potential, of a speaker or group of speakers; and that it should not rely upon the concepts it attempts to explain, in that it should be verifiable independently of knowledge of the detailed propositional attitudes of the speaker. Among the topics covered in the essays are the relation between theories of truth and theories of meaning, translation, quotation, belief, radical interpretation, reference, metaphor, and communication. (shrink)
Subjective, Intersubjective, Objective is the long-awaited third volume of philosophical writings by Donald Davidson, whose influence on philosophy since the 1960s has been deep and broad. His first two collections, published by OUP in the early 1980s, are recognized as contemporary classics. Now Davidson presents a selection of his work on knowledge, mind, and language from the 1980s and the 1990s. We all have knowledge of our own minds, knowledge of the contents of other minds, and knowledge of the shared (...) environment. Davidson examines the nature and status of each of these three sorts of knowledge, and the connections and differences among them. Along the way he has illuminating things to say about truth, human rationality, and the relations among language, thought, and the world. This new volume offers a rich and rewarding feast for anyone interested in philosophy today, and is essential reading for anyone working on its central topics. (shrink)
A phenomenon “emerges” when a concept is instantiated for the first time: hence emergence is relative to a set of concepts. Propositional thought and language emerge together. It is proposed that the degree of complexity of an object language relative to a given metalanguage can be gauged by the number of ways it can be translated into that metalanguage: in analogy with other forms of measurement, the more ways the object language can be translated into the metalanguage, the less powerful (...) the conceptual resources of the object language. (shrink)
This is the long-awaited third volume of philosophical writings by Davidson, whose influence on philosophy since the 1960s has been deep and broad. His first two collections, published by Oxford in the early 1980s, are recognized as contemporary classics. His ideas have continued to flow; now, in this new work, he presents a selection of his best work on knowledge, mind, and language from the last two decades. It is a rich and rewarding feast for anyone interested in philosophy, and (...) essential reading for anyone working on these topics. (shrink)
Two questions are raised about Quine's view of truth. He has recently said that ontology is relative to a translation manual: is this the same as relativizing it to a language? The same question may be asked about truth. Should we think there is one concept of truth which is relative to a language, or is there a separate concept for each language (or speaker)? The second question concerns Quine's repeated endorsements of the ?disquotational? account of truth. Does he think (...) this account limits a truth predicate to application to a single language, or can translation (or Tarski's methods) allow us to apply a truth predicate in one language to sentences in other languages? If the latter, can Quine still contend that the disquotational account is a ?full? account of the concept of truth? The answer would tell us whether Quine can be counted among those who would deflate the concept of truth. (shrink)
This summary paper explains why we are not constrained to start from a solipsistic, or first person point of view in considering the nature of thought. My aim here is to suggest the nature of an acceptable extemalism. According to this view, knowledge of other minds need not be a problem m addition to the problem of empirical knowledge. The essential step toward determining the content of someone else's thought is made by discovering what normally causes those thoughts. Hence I (...) believe that there could not be thoughts in one mind if there were not other thoughtful creatures with which the first mind shared a natural world. (shrink)
Now in a new edition, this volume updates Davidson's exceptional Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation (1984), which set out his enormously influential philosophy of language. The original volume remains a central point of reference, and a focus of controversy, with its impact extending into linguistic theory, philosophy of mind, and epistemology. Addressing a central question--what it is for words to mean what they do--and featuring a previously uncollected, additional essay, this work will appeal to a wide audience of philosophers, linguists, (...) and psychologists. (shrink)
The central propositional attitudes of belief, desire, and meaning are interdependent; it is therefore fruitless to analyse one or two of them in terms of the others. A method is outlined in this paper that yields a theory for interpreting speech, a measure of degree of belief, and a measure of desirability. The method combines in a novel way features of Bayesean decision theory, and a Quinean approach to radical interpretation.
A theory of radical interpretation gives the meanings of all sentences of a language, and can be verified by evidence available to someone who does not understand the language. Such evidence cannot include detailed information concerning the beliefs and intentions of speakers, and therefore the theory must simultaneously interpret the utterances of speakers and specify (some of) his beliefs. Analogies and connections with decision theory suggest the kind of theory that will serve for radical interpretation, and how permissible evidence can (...) support it. (shrink)
D. In doing x an agent acts incontinently if and only if: 1) the agent does x intentionally; 2) the agent believes there is an alternative action y open to him; and 3) the agent judges that, all things considered, it would be better to do y than to do x.
Reminiscences of Peter, by P. Oppenheim.--Natural kinds, by W. V. Quine.--Inductive independence and the paradoxes of confirmation, by J. Hintikka.--Partial entailment as a basis for inductive logic, by W. C. Salmon.--Are there non-deductive logics?, by W. Sellars.--Statistical explanation vs. statistical inference, by R. C. Jeffre--Newcomb's problem and two principles of choice, by R. Nozick.--The meaning of time, by A. Grünbaum.--Lawfulness as mind-dependent, by N. Rescher.--Events and their descriptions: some considerations, by J. Kim.--The individuation of events, by D. Davidson.--On properties, by (...) H. Putnam.--A method for avoiding the Curry paradox, by F. B. Fitch.--Publications (1934-1969) by Carl G. Hempel (p. -270). (shrink)
PREVIOUS WORK Theoretical discussion of the interval measurement of utility based upon theories of decision making under conditions of risk has been voluminous and will not be reviewed here. Those interested will find extensive ...