Thought and language

South African Journal of Philosophy 21 (3):200-218 (2002)
This article defends the view that nonlinguistic animals could be capable of thought (in the sense in which the mere possession of beliefs and desires is sufficient for thought). It is easy to identify flaws in Davidson's arguments for the thesis that thought depends upon language if one is open to the idea that some nonlinguistic animals have beliefs. It is, however, necessary to do more than this if one wishes to engage with the deeper challenge underlying Davidson's reasoning, viz., that of providing a principled account of what it takes for a representer to qualify as a thinker. Heil attempts to construct a Davidsonian account on the basis of the hypothesis that the semantic opacity essential to thought is rooted in second-order representation (which Davidson ties to language), but it can be shown that second-order representation is neither necessary nor sufficient for opacity. A reasonable non-Davidsonian account of thought in terms of which sufficiently sophisticated nonlinguistic animals qualify as thinkers is, however, possible. S. Afr. J. Philos. Vol.21(3) 2002: 200-218
Keywords Animal  Belief  Language  Thought  Davidson, D
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DOI 10.4314/sajpem.v21i3.31346
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References found in this work BETA
Donald Davidson (1997). Seeing Through Language. Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 42:15-27.

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Michael Pendlebury (2010). How to Be a Normative Expressivist. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 80 (1):182-207.

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