Ernest Lepore and Kirk Ludwig present the definitive critical exposition of the philosophical system of Donald Davidson. Davidson 's ideas had a deep and broad influence in the central areas of philosophy; he presented them in brilliant essays over four decades, but never set out explicitly the overarching scheme in which they all have their place. Lepore's and Ludwig's book will therefore be the key work, besides Davidson 's own, for understanding one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth (...) century. (shrink)
The work of Donald Davidson (1917-2003) transformed the study of meaning. Ernie Lepore and Kirk Ludwig, two of the world's leading authorities on Davidson's work, present the definitive study of his widely admired and influential program of truth-theoretic semantics for natural languages, giving an exposition and critical examination of its foundations and applications.
In his recent paper, “Lottery Puzzles and Jesus’ Return,” Donald Smith says that Christians should accept a very robust skepticism about the future because a Christian ought to think that the probability of Jesus’ return happening at any future moment is inscrutable to her. But I think that Smith’s argument lacks the power to rationally persuade Christians who are antecedently uncommitted as to whether or not we can or do have any substantive knowledge about the future. Moreover, I think (...) that Christians who are so antecedently uncommitted have available objections they can reasonably press against Smith’s arguments. In the paper, I attempt to bring out these objections. (shrink)
J. E. Malpas discusses and develops the ideas of Donald Davidson, influential in contemporary thinking on the nature of understanding and meaning, and of truth and knowledge. He provides an account of Davidson's holistic and hermeneutical conception of linguistic interpretation, and, more generally, of the mind. Outlining its Quinean origins and the elements basic to Davidson's Radical Interpretation, J. E. Malpas' book goes on to elaborate this holism and to examine the indeterminacy of interpretation and the principle of charity. (...) The metaphysical and epistemological consequences of Davidson's approach are considered, particularly in relation to scepticism and relativism, the realist/anti-realist debate, and the problem of truth. Parallels are drawn between the Davidsonian emphasis on the centrality of the notion of truth and Heidegger's notion of truth as aletheia, as the book looks to structuralist, hermeneutical and phenomenological sources to illuminate Davidson's position. (shrink)
Donald Davidson has been one of the most influential figures in modern analytic philosophy and has made seminal contributions in a wide range of subjects: philosophy of language, philosophy of action, philosophy of mind, epistemology, metaphysics and the theory of rationality. His principal work, embodied in a series of landmark essays stretching over nearly forty years, exhibits a unity rare among philosophers contributing on so many diverse fronts. Written by a distinguished team of philosophers, this volume includes chapters on (...) truth and meaning, the philosophy of action, radical interpretation, philosophical psychology, knowledge of the external world, other minds and our own minds, and the implications of Davidson's work for literary theory. This book is a comprehensive introduction to the full range of Davidson's work, and as such it will be of particular value to advanced undergraduates, graduates and professionals in philosophy, psychology, linguistics, and literary theory. (shrink)
Donald Davidson’s epistemology is predicated on, among other things, the rejection of Experiential Foundationalism, which he calls ‘unintelligible’. In this essay, I assess Davidson’s arguments for this conclusion. I conclude that each of them fails on the basis of reasons that foundationalists and antifoundationalists alike can, and should, accept.
Religious naturalism is distinct from supernatural religion largely because of metaphysical minimalism. Certain varieties of religious naturalism are more minimalist than others, however, and some even eschew metaphysics altogether. But is anything lost in that process? To determine metaphysics’ degree of relevance to religious function, I compare the soteriology of the “ontologically reticent” Minimalist Vision of Jerome Stone to that of the ontologically rich Religion of Nature of Donald Crosby. I demonstrate that for these varieties of religious naturalism: (1) (...) metaphysics influences soteriology; (2) metaphysical minimalism limits soteriological potential; and (3) metaphysics enhances soteriological potential. These conclusions lead me to assert the relevance of metaphysics to religious function, specifically for these varieties of religious naturalism, as well as to urge investigation into religious experience and quality as they may relate to metaphysics. (shrink)
This article has two objectives. Firts, it is my aim to outline some medieval views concerning the acts that oppose one's better judgment. I will use Aristotle's term aktasia to denote the moral state of an agent behaving in this way. John Burdidan's (1285-1349) treatment of akrasia is especially relevant here. Second, it will be argued that some important philosophical ideas proposed receently by Donald Davidson, in his influential study 'How is Waekness of the Will Possible?', are anticipated in (...) the medieval discussion. (shrink)
Given W.V. Quine’s and Donald Davidson’s extensive agreement about much of the philosophy of language and mind, and the obvious methodological parallels between Quine’s radical translation and Davidson’s radical interpretation, many—including Quine and Davidson—are puzzled by their occasional disagreements. I argue for the importance of attending to these disagreements, not just because doing so deepens our understanding of these influential thinkers, but because they are in fact the shadows thrown from two distinct conceptions of philosophical inquiry: Quine’s “naturalism” and (...) what I call Davidson’s “humanism.” The clash between Quine and Davidson thus provides valuable insight into the history of analytic naturalism and its malcontents. (shrink)
Donald Davidson's work has been of seminal importance in the development of analytic philosophy and his views on the nature of language, mind and action remain the starting point for many of the central debates in the analytic tradition. His ideas, however, are complex, often technical, and interconnected in ways that can make them difficult to understand. This introduction to Davidson's philosophy examines the full range of his writings to provide a clear succinct overview of his ideas. This book (...) begins with an account of the assumptions and structure of Davidson's philosophy of language, introducing his compositionalism, extensionalism and commitment to a Tarski-style theory of truth as the model for theories of meaning. It goes on to show how that philosophical framework is to be applied and how it challenges the traditional picture. Marc Joseph examines Davidson's influential work on action theory and events and discusses the commonly made charge that his theory of action and mind leaves the mental as a mere 'epiphenomenon' of the physical. The final section explores Davidson's philosophy of mind, some of its consequences for traditional views of subjectivity and objectivity and, more generally, the relation between minded beings and the physical and mental world they occupy. (shrink)
Over the last forty years, Donald Davidson has been one of the most influential, but least accessible voices in philosophy. There are several reasons why it is hard to come to grips with his work. First, his language is dense, even by the standards of analytic philosophy; while at the same time his thought is highly organic, so that it is difficult to make sense of one idea without an understanding of his whole program. Davidson never attempted to write (...) a book that would provide an easy entry into the interconnections between his many influential and controversial views. Nor did he attempt to record the evolution of his thought, keeping track of how reconsiderations on one point would affect the tenability of the others. It is perhaps a good thing too, for as the volume to be reviewed here makes clear, such a massive project would have left him with little time for his later contributions to philosophy. (shrink)
This is a review of Kathrin Gluer's Donald Davidson: A Short Introduction. A dispute about the grounding of the Principle of Charity is discussed, and some resources Davidson has for responding to a criticism of his theory of action.
The English version of the first chapter of Erwin Rogler and Gerhard Preyer: Materialismus, anomaler Monismus und mentale Kausalität. Zur gegenwärtigen Philosophie des Mentalen bei Donald Davidson und David Lewis »Anomaler Monismus und Mentale Kausalität. Ein Beitrag zur Debatte über Donald Davidsons Philosophie des Mentalen« is a contribution to the current debates on the philosophy of the mental and mental causality initiated from Donald Davidson's philosophy with his article »Mental Events«. It is the intent of the English (...) version to give a response to the controversy among American, British and Australian philosophers in the context of a global exchange of ideas on problems understanding the mental. Contents 1. Preliminary Remarks 2. The Critique of Property-Epiphenomenalism and Counterarguments The Enlargement of Nomological Reasoning The Counterfactual Analysis Supervenient Causality 3. Are Mental Properties real or unreal?Things and events are fundamental entities in Davidson's ontology. Less distinct is the ontological status of properties, especially of mental types. Despite of some eliminative allusions there are weighty reasons to understand Davidson's philosophy of mind as including intentional realism. With it, the question of mental causality arises. There are two striking solutions to this problem: the epiphenomenalism of mental properties and the downward causation of mental events. Davidson cannot accept either. He claims to justify the mental as supervenient causality in order to thus integrate it into physicalism. But his argument at best proves the explanatory, not the causal relevance of mental properties. For this and for other reasons, Davidson fails the aspired synthesis of a sufficiently strong physicalism and the autonomy of the mental; a project whose realization is anyhow hard to achieve. (shrink)
The latest volume of the critically acclaimed Library of Living Philosophers series is devoted to the work of analytic philosopher Donald Davidson. Following the standard LLP format, Davidson discusses his life and philosophical development in an intellectual autobiography. This is followed by 31 critical essays by distinguished scholars; Davidson replies to each of these essays.
En este breve comentario discuto algunos aspectos de la interpretación de la epistemología de Davidson que sugiere Willian Duica en su reciente libro. Luego de una presentación somera del libro me centro en tres asuntos centrales de la interpretación de Duica. En primer lugar, argumento que su lectura de la crítica de Davidson al dualismo esquema/contenido es muy restrictiva y deja abierta la posibilidad de un realismo directo empirista. En segundo lugar, argumento que en su lectura el propio Duica se (...) compromete inadvertidamente con un empirismo de este tipo y, de este modo, su interpretación entra en tensión con el coherentismo de Davidson. Finalmente, discuto algunos aspectos de la interpretación que hace Duica de la tesis davidsoniana de la triangulación. (shrink)
The book is an “introductory” reconstruction of Davidson on interpretation —a claim to be taken with a grain of salt. Writing introductory books has become an idol of the tribe. This is a concise book and reflects much study. It has many virtues along with some flaws. Ramberg assembles themes and puzzles from Davidson into a more or less coherent viewpoint. A special virtue is the innovative treatment of incommensurability and of the relation of Davidson’s work to hermeneutic themes. The (...) weakness comes in a certain unevenness. While generally convincing and well written, the book has low points which may leave the reader confused or unconvinced. Davidson is the hero in this book, and our hero is sometimes over idealized. (shrink)
Problems of Rationality is divided into three parts. The first four essays defend the claim that judgments of value are objectively true. The next six expound what Davidson called "a unified theory of thought, meaning, and action". The last four discuss the problems that weakness of will and self-deception raise for Davidson's claim that ascription of intention and belief is possible only if we assume the agent's rationality. I shall discuss the three parts in sequence.
Tracing the background of Davidson’s work in the positivists’ philosophical emigration of the 30’s and in Quine, Evnine’s “Introduction” offers a “map of the terrain to be covered” which stresses the “rationalistic” character of Davidson’s views on holism and rationality. Thus, “his main philosophical concerns ... language, the mental and action...are the ingredients of a philosophical anthropology.” In spite of Quinean roots, the view is that “Davidson has now wholly removed himself, philosophically speaking, from the empiricist tradition.” The result: a (...) “rationalism,...a genuine, non-empiricist philosophical vision.” Though appealing to those of a “rationalist” leaning, this theme seems to generalize Davidson’s criticisms of Quine’s behaviorism as a lapse from empiricism. Often, it arises from interpretive gloss just where the tough-minded reader seeks quotation. (shrink)
William James described his system as “too much like an arch built only on one side.” Donald Crosby’s project is to chart the dimensions of the arch, repair it in certain places, and continue its construction. He endorses a Jamesian empiricism according to which “pure experience” is the ultimate context within which we come to judgments about reality, but he resists James’s allusions to pure experience as the stuff from which the world is made. The metaphysical question is answered (...) by “radical materialism,” Crosby’s label for his revision of James’s pluralism.James insisted that experience is prior to the discriminations that we find within in it. Most people, for example, must be taught to listen for... (shrink)
According to many commentators, Davidson’s earlier work on philosophy of action and truth-theoretic semantics is the basis for his reputation, and his later forays into broader metaphysical and epistemological issues, and eventually into what became known as the triangulation argument, are much less successful. This book by two of his former students aims to change that perception. In Part One, Verheggen begins by providing an explanation and defense of the triangulation argument, then explores its implications for questions concerning semantic normativity (...) and reductionism, the social character of language and thought, and skepticism about the external world. In Part Two, Myers considers what the argument can tell us about reasons for action, and whether it can overcome skeptical worries based on claims about the nature of motivation, the sources of normativity and the demands of morality. The book reveals Davidson’s later writings to be full of innovative and important ideas that deserve much more attention than they are currently receiving. (shrink)
Donald Davidson is unquestionably one of America's greatest living philosophers. His influence on Anglo-American philosophy over the last twenty years has been enormous, and his work is an unavoidable reference point in current debates in the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind. This book offers a systematic and accessible introduction to Davidson's work. Evnine begins by discussing Davidson's contribution to the philosophy of mind, including his views on action, events and causation. He then examines Davidson's work in (...) the philosophy of language. The link between meaning and truth, radical interpretation, and semantic holism are considered in detail. The final chapters deal with the metaphysical aspects of Davidson's work and seek to assess his philosophical project as a whole. (shrink)
To be able to produce and understand metaphorical statements is nothing much to boast about: these familiar skills, which children seem to acquire as they learn to talk, are perhaps no more remarkable than our ability to tell and to understand jokes. How odd then that it remains difficult to explain what we do in grasping metaphorical statements. In a provocative paper, "What Metaphors Mean,"1 Donald Davidson has recently charged many students of metaphor, ancient and modern, with having committed (...) a "central mistake." According to him, there is "error and confusion" in claiming "that a metaphor has, in addition to its literal sense or meaning, another sense or meaning." The guilty include "literary critics like Richards, Empson, and Winters; philosophers from Aristotle to Max Black; psychologists from Freud and earlier to Skinner and later; and linguists from Plato to Uriel Weinreich and George Lakoff." Good company, if somewhat mixed. The error to be extirpated is the "idea that a metaphor has a special meaning" . If Davidson is right, much that has been written about metaphor might well be consigned to the flames. Even if he proves to be wrong, his animadversions should provoke further consideration of the still problematic modus operandi of metaphor. · 1. In "What Metaphors Mean," Critical Inquiry 5 : 31-47. All further references in text. Max Black is Susan Linn Sage professor of philosophy and humane letters emeritus at Cornell University and senior member of the Cornell program on science, technology, and society. His many influential works include Models and Metaphors, A Companion to Wittgenstein's Tractatus, and, most recently, Caveats and Critiques. During the fall of 1978 he was Tarner Lecturer at Cambridge University and is currently preparing a book on rationality based on those lectures. (shrink)
The revival of analytic metaphysics in the latter half of the twentieth century is typically understood as a consequence of the critiques of logical positivism, Quine’s naturalization of ontology, Kripke’s Naming and Necessity, clarifications of modal notions in logic, and the theoretical exploitation of possible worlds. However, this explanation overlooks the work of metaphysicians at the height of positivism and linguisticism that affected metaphysics of the late twentieth century. Donald C. Williams is one such philosopher. In this paper I (...) explain how Williams’s fundamental ontology and philosophy of time influenced in part the early formation of David Lewis’s metaphysics. Thus, Williams played an important role in the revival of analytic metaphysics. (shrink)
In the middle of last century metaphysics was widely criticized, ridiculed, and committed to the flames. During this period a handful of philosophers, against several anti-metaphysical trends, defended metaphysics and articulated novel metaphysical doctrines. Donald C. Williams was one of these philosophers. But while his contributions to metaphysics are well known his defence of metaphysics is not and yet it played a key part in the development and revival of metaphysics. In this paper I present his defence of metaphysics (...) in its historical context. I also show how his defence is relevant in response to recent attacks on metaphysics. (shrink)
The rise to power of Donald Trump has been shocking in many ways. One of these was that it disrupted the preexisting consensus that overt racism would be death to a national political campaign. In this paper, I argue that Trump made use of what I call “racial figleaves”—additional utterances that provide just enough cover to give reassurance to voters who are racially resentful but don’t wish to see themselves as racist. These figleaves also, I argue, play a key (...) role in shifting our norms about what counts as racist: they bring it about that something which would previously have been seen as revealing obvious racism is now seen as the sort of thing that a nonracist might say. This gives them tremendous power to corrupt not just our political discourse but our culture more broadly. (shrink)
Donald Davidson's theory of mind is widely regarded as a normative theory. This is a something of a confusion. Once a distinction has been made between the categorisation scheme of a norm and the norm's force-maker, it becomes clear that a Davidsonian theory of mind is not a normative theory after all. Making clear the distinction, applying it to Davidson's theory of mind, and showing its significance are the main purposes of this paper. In the concluding paragraphs, a sketch (...) is given of how a truly normative Davidsonian theory of mind might be formulated. (shrink)
: Donald Trump has been a godsend for those of us who teach critical thinking. For he is a fount of manipulative rhetoric, glaring fallacies, conspiracy theories, fake news, and bullshit. In this paper I draw on my own recent teaching experience in order to discuss both the usefulness and the limits of using Trumpexamples in teaching critical thinking. In Section One I give the framework of the course; in Section Two I indicate Trump’s relevance to many important concepts (...) in the course; and in Section Three I argue that criticalthinking instructors should restrain themselves from overreliance on Trump-examples. Résumé: Donald Trump a été une aubaine pour ceux d'entre nous qui enseignent la pensée critique. Car il est une source de rhétorique manipulatrice, de sophismes flagrants, de théories du complot, de fausses nouvelles et de conneries. Dans cet article, je me base sur ma propre expérience d'enseignement afin de discuter à la fois de l'utilité et des limites de l'utilisation des exemples de Trump dans la formation de la pensée critique. Dans la première partie, je donne le cadre du cours ; dans la deuxième section, j'indique la pertinence de Trump dans l’enseignement de nombreux concepts importants du cours; et dans la troisième section, je soutiens que les instructeurs de la pensée critique devraient se retenir de trop se fier aux exemples de Trump. (shrink)
With the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States, the discourse of an authoritarianism and the echoes of a fascist past have moved from the margins to the center of American politics. A culture of war buttressed by the forces of white supremacy and militarization has been unleashed in a series of policies designed to return the United States to a history in which the public sphere was largely white and Christian, and the economy and (...) the state were governed by a ruling corporate elite. Militarization and a war culture have become normalized in the United States and this article explores the ways in which a neo-fascism has emerged that furthers war not only abroad but also at home, especially with regards to the ongoing assaults waged by the state against Muslims, immigrants, women’s reproductive rights, and poor minorities of class and color. Against the rise of neo--fascism, this article advances the idea that education is central to any viable notion of politics, that progressives... (shrink)