Interpretative Modesty

Journal of Philosophy 120 (1):42-59 (2023)
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Abstract

Philosophers have wanted to work with conceptions of word-competence, or concept-possession, on which being a competent practitioner with a word amounts to being a competent judge of its uses by others. I argue that our implicit conception of competence with a word does not have this presupposition built into it. One implication of this is what I call "modesty" in interpretation: we allow for others, uses of words that we would not allow for ourselves. I develop this point by looking at Saul Kripke's discussion of some famous examples given by Benson Mates, concerning beliefs about beliefs. I defend Mates's point against Kripke's claim that an interpreter who is modest in my sense must be "conceptually confused."

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Author's Profile

Mark McCullagh
University of Guelph

Citations of this work

Mates and the hierarchy.Marion Durand & Gurpreet Rattan - 2022 - Synthese 200 (6):1-24.

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References found in this work

A puzzle about belief.Saul A. Kripke - 1979 - In A. Margalit (ed.), Meaning and Use. Reidel. pp. 239--83.
Radical Interpretation.Donald Davidson - 1973 - Dialectica 27 (3-4):313-328.
Synonymity.Benson Mates - 1954 - Journal of Symbolic Logic 19 (3):223-223.
Belief and synonymy.Tyler Burge - 1978 - Journal of Philosophy 75 (3):119-138.

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