Davidson and Conceptual Schemes

Paul Broadbent
University of Birmingham
In the paper “On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme” Donald Davidson argues that we cannot make sense of the claim that there could be conceptual schemes which are different from our own. He argues that conceptual schemes different to our own must be untranslatable into our own language, and further that the idea of untranslatable languages does not make sense. By considering three variants of conceptual relativism which can be developed using the work of Kant, Quine, and Kuhn I aim to make three criticisms of Davidson's arguments: firstly I will argue that Davidson is unable to respond to the claim that the reality which schemes must fit is unknowable; secondly I will argue that Davidson is wrong to represent his opponents as all claiming that distinct conceptual schemes must be untranslatable, and that in fact we can make sense of the idea of distinct conceptual schemes which can be translated; finally, I will argue that Davidson fails to acknowledge the central role interpretivism plays in his arguments, and that this hidden interpretivism both makes much of his argument redundant, and robs them of any power to convince someone who rejects the controversial thesis of interpretivism.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 43,049
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Two Dogmas of Empiricism.Willard V. O. Quine - 1951 - Philosophical Review 60 (1):20–43.
Word and Object.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1960 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 17 (2):278-279.
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 15 (58):158-161.

View all 11 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

On Davidson's Refutation of Conceptual Schemes and Conceptual Relativism.Xinli Wang - 2009 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 90 (1):140-164.
Alternative Conceptual Schemes and A Non-Kantian Scheme-Content Dualism.Xinli Wang - 2012 reprint - Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 39:267-275.
A Presuppositional Approach to Conceptual Schemes.Xinli Wang & Ling Xu - 2010 - South African Journal of Philosophy 29 (4):404-421.
Radical Interpretation and the Problem of Asymmetry.Greg Lynch - 2016 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 24 (4):473-488.
On Davidson's Idea of a Conceptual Scheme.P. M. S. Hacker - 1996 - Philosophical Quarterly 46 (184):289-307.
From the Myth of the Given to Radical Conceptual Diversity.Terence Rajivan Edward - 2015 - Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 22 (1):3-8.
Conceptual Scheme Differentiation.Damon Alan Gitelman - 1991 - Dissertation, University of Calgary (Canada)
Conceptual Schemes and Empiricism: What Davidson Saw and McDowell Missed.Jesús Coll Mármol - 2007 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 22 (2):153-165.


Added to PP index

Total views
7 ( #873,730 of 2,260,175 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
6 ( #260,090 of 2,260,175 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature