Erkenntnis. v. 44, no. 3: pp. 317-26

Radical Interpretation and the Permutation Principle * Davidson has argued1 that there is no fact of the matter as to what any speaker's words refer to because, even holding truth conditions fixed, a radical interpreter will always be able to come up with many equally good interpretations of the interpretee’s language. This conclusion, which Davidson (following Quine) refers to as the "inscrutability of reference", has caused many to reject the radical interpretation methodology as fundamentally flawed.2 Nevertheless, it isn’t clear that such widespread inscrutability is a necessary consequence of the radical interpretation methodology. In particular, Davidson claims that the following assumption (which will hereafter be referred to as the "Permutation Principle") is "clearly needed if we are to conclude to the inscrutability of reference".
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