Davidson and the Autonomy of the Human Sciences

In Jeff Malpas (ed.), Dialogues with Davidson: New Perspectives on his Philosophy. MIT Press (2011)
This chapter explores the kind of nonreductivism defended by Davidson and compares it with that which predominated in mid-century. Davidson’s argument for the autonomy of the human sciences is contrasted with the one developed by R. G. Collingwood as presented through the interpretative efforts of W. H. Dray. It is argued here that Davidson’s arguments against the anticausalist consensus that dominated the first half of the twentieth century were not conclusive and that the success of causalism in the latter half of the century is largely due to a return of heavy-duty metaphysics and an ontological backlash against the linguistic turn. Davidson, however, was able to preserve a kind of nonreductivism that is grounded in a distinction in kind between normative and descriptive sciences, rather than in a distinction in degree between sciences with greater or lower predictive power.
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Reprint years 2013
DOI 10.7551/mitpress/9780262015561.003.0016
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