Dialogue 43 (2):281-315 (2004)
I clarify in what sense one might want to claim that thought or language are public. I distinguish among four forms that each of these claims might take, and two general ways of establishing them that might be contemplated. The first infers the public character of thought from the public character of language, and the second infers the latter from the former. I show that neither of these stategies seems to be able to dispense with the claim that thought and language are interdependent, and that the second strategy raises more difficulties than the first. I then examine the reasoning by which Davidson means to establish that thought depends on language. I claim that this reasoning is not conclusive, and that it can be adapted in such a way as to establish aversion of the thesis that thought is public which does not presuppose that language is public, and aversion of the thesis that language is public which does not imply that thought depends on language. I conclude with the suggestion that despite appearances to the contrary Davidson’s doctrine is defensible only if it implies at least the conceivability of intentional systems that would lack language altogether.
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