On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme

Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 47:5-20 (1973)
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Davidson attacks the intelligibility of conceptual relativism, i.e. of truth relative to a conceptual scheme. He defines the notion of a conceptual scheme as something ordering, organizing, and rendering intelligible empirical content, and calls the position that employs both notions scheme-content dualism. He argues that such dualism is untenable since: not only can we not parcel out empirical content sentence per sentence but also the notion of uninterpreted content to which several schemes are relative, and the related notion of a theory ”fitting the evidence’, can be shown to lack intelligibility too. Davidson argues further that belief in incommensurable schemes or non-intertranslatable languages is possible only on violating a correct understanding of interpretability : if we succeed in interpreting someone else then we have shown there is no need to speak of two conceptual schemes, while if we fail ”there is no ground for speaking of two.’



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