Davidson has attempted to offer his own solution to the problem of self-knowledge, but there has been no consensus between his commentators on what this solution is. Many have claimed that Davidson’s account stems from his remarks on disquotational specifications of self-ascriptions of meaning and mental content, the account which I will call the “Disquotational Explanation”. It has also been claimed that Davidson’s account rather rests on his version of content externalism, which I will call the “Externalist Explanation”. I will (...) argue that not only are these explanations of self-knowledge implausible, but Davidson himself has already rejected them. Thus, neither can be attributed to Davidson as his suggested account of self-knowledge. I will then introduce and support what I take to be Davidson’s official and independent account of self-knowledge, that is, his “Transcendental Explanation”. I will defend this view against certain potential objections and finally against the objections made by William Child. (shrink)
RésuméJe soutiendrai que la façon dont Davidson rend compte de l'intention pure peut être comprise comme une analyse de l'intention comme étant relative à un jugement dans une perspective en première personne. Selon Davidson, avoir la pure intention de faire A, c'est formuler un jugement tout bien considéré qu'il est désirable de faire A. Dans cette analyse anti-réductionniste, l'intention est traitée comme un état irréductible du sujet. J’établirai une comparaison entre cette analyse et celle de Wright et je montrerai comment (...) la position de Davidson peut être considérée comme une analyse non-réductionniste rapportant l'intention au jugement, selon les directions suggérées par Wright. J'expliquerai ensuite comment cette analyse peut aider à éclaircir diverses difficultés qui se présentent dans la conception que Davidson se fait ultérieurement de la signification et du contenu mental. (shrink)
Davidson’s later philosophy of language has been inspired by Wittgenstein’s Investigations, but Davidson by no means sympathizes with the sceptical problem and solution Kripke attributes to Wittgenstein. Davidson criticizes the sceptical argument for relying on the rule-following conception of meaning, which is, for him, a highly problematic view. He also casts doubt on the plausibility of the sceptical solution as unjustifiably bringing in shared practices of a speech community. According to Davidson, it is rather success in mutual interpretation that explains (...) success in the practice of meaning something by an utterance. I will argue that Davidson’s objections to the sceptical problem and solution are misplaced as they rely on a misconstrual of Kripke’s Wittgenstein’s view. I will also argue that Davidson’s alternative solution to the sceptical problem is implausible, since it fails to block the route to the sceptical problem. I will then offer a problematic trilemma for Davidson. (shrink)
According to Wright’s Judgement-Dependent account of intention, facts about a subject’s intentions can be taken to be constituted by facts about the subject’s best opinions about them formed under certain optimal conditions. This paper aims to defend this account against three main objections which have been made to it by Boghossian, Miller and implicitly by Wright himself. It will be argued that Miller’s objection is implausible because it fails to take into account the partial-determination claim in this account. Boghossian’s objection (...) also fails because it is based on an unjustified reductionist reading of Wright’s account. However, Wright’s own attempt to resist Boghossian’s objection seems to display a shift from his Judgement-Dependent account to an Interpretationist account of self-knowledge, in which case Wright’s new account would face the same problem which he himself has previously put forward in the case of Davidson’s Interpretationist account of self-knowledge. Nonetheless, I will argue that Wright does not need to make such a move because Boghossian’s objection is not applicable to his account. (shrink)
The Indeterminacy of Translation and Radical Interpretation The indeterminacy of translation is the thesis that translation, meaning, and reference are all indeterminate: there are always alternative translations of a sentence and a term, and nothing objective in the world can decide which translation is the right one. This is a skeptical conclusion because what it … Continue reading The Indeterminacy of Translation and Radical Interpretation →.
Frederic Stoutland (1982a, 1982b) has argued that a Davidsonian theory of meaning is incompatible with a realist view of truth, on which the truth-conditions of sentences consist of mind-independent states of affairs or concatenations of extra-linguistic objects. In this paper we show that Stoutland’s argument is a failure.
Saul Kripke, in his celebrated book Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language (1982), offers a novel reading of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s main remarks in his later works, especially in Philosophical Investigations (1953) and, to some extent, in Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics (1956). Kripke presents Wittgenstein as proposing a skeptical argument against a certain conception of meaning and linguistic understanding, as well as a skeptical solution to such a problem. Many philosophers have called this interpretation of Wittgenstein Kripke’s Wittgenstein or (...) Kripkenstein because, as Kripke himself emphasizes, it is “Wittgenstein’s argument as it struck Kripke, as it presented a problem for him” (Kripke 1982, 5) and “probably many of my formulations and re-castings of the argument are done in a way Wittgenstein would not himself approve” (Kripke 1982, 5). Such an interpretation has been the subject of tremendous discussions since its publication, and this has formed a huge literature on the topic of meaning skepticism in general and Wittgenstein’s later view in particular. -/- According to the skeptical argument that Kripke extracts from Wittgenstein’s later remarks on meaning and rule-following, there is no fact about a speaker’s behavioral, mental or social life that can metaphysically determine, or constitute, what she means by her words and also fix a determinate connection between those meanings and the correctness of her use of these words. Such a skeptical conclusion has a disastrous consequence for the classical realist view of meaning: if we insist on the idea that meaning is essentially a factual matter, we face the bizarre conclusion that there is thereby “no such thing as meaning anything by any word” (Kripke 1982, 55). -/- According to the skeptical solution that Kripke attributes to Wittgenstein, such a radical conclusion is intolerable because we certainly do very often mean certain things by our words. The skeptical solution begins by rejecting the view that results in such a paradoxical conclusion, that is, the classical realist conception of meaning. The skeptical solution offers then a new picture of the practice of meaning-attribution, according to which we can legitimately assert that a speaker means something specific by her words if we, as members of a speech-community, can observe, in enough cases, that her use agrees with ours. We can judge, for instance, that she means by “green” what we mean by this word, namely, green, if we observe that her use of “green” agrees with our way of using it. Attributing meanings to others’ words, therefore, brings in the notion of a speech-community, whose members are uniform in their responses. As a result, there can be no private language. -/- This article begins by introducing Kripke’s Wittgenstein’s skeptical problem presented in Chapter 2 of Kripke’s book. It then explicates Kripke’s Wittgenstein’s skeptical solution to the skeptical problem, which is offered in Chapter 3 of the book. The article ends by reviewing some of the most important responses to the skeptical problem and the skeptical solution. (shrink)
McTaggart, in his famous paper, “The Unreality of Time” (1908), argues in favor of the sceptical claim that time is unreal. His main argument is based on detecting a paradox in our ordinary descriptions of time or events occurring in time. Based on our common sense conception of time, time and the events happening in it can be described in two ways: either as having the properties of “being past”, “being present” and “being future”, or as having the properties of (...) “being earlier than”, “being later than”, or “being simultaneous with”. McTaggart argues that employing the second sort of properties fails to properly explain “change” in time. However, having assumed the essentiality of the first type of properties to time, McTaggart argues that these properties will themselves lead to a paradox, according to which all events are at the same time in the past, present, and future. In this essay, we are going to provide a clear exposition of McTaggart’s argument and briefly review some of the main responses to it. We will then show that McTaggart’s argument will amount to error-theory about the content of our utterances about time. We will then employ Boghossian’s argument against error-theory (1990) to show why McTaggart’s argument leads to paradoxical conclusions. (shrink)