Theories of meaning and logical constants: Davidson versus Evans

Mind 111 (442):249-280 (2002)
Donald Dvaidson has claimed that a theory of meaning identifies the logical constants of the object language by treating them in the phrasal axioms of the theory, and that the theory entails a relation of logical consequence among the sentences of the object language. Section 1 offers a preliminary investigation of these claims. In Section 2 the claims are rebutted by appealing to Evans's paradigm of a theory of meaning. Evans's theory is deliberately blind to any relation of logical consequence among the sentences of the object language, and entails only what Evans takes to be a distinct and deeper relation of structural validity among the sentences of the object language. In Section 3 we turn to Evans's motivation in order to compare the two paradigms of a theory of meaning. Evans laid down criteria under which a theory of meaning gives what he called a ‘transcendent’ semantic classification of the lexicon of the object language, in contrast to a mere ‘immanent’ classification. However, when these criteria are applied we find that, pace Evans, they favour Davidson's paradigm over Evans's. In the final section we show that Evans's conception of structural consequence turns out to be a deeper formulation of logical consequence.
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DOI 10.1093/mind/111.442.249
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