We are grateful for the thoughtful attention the commentators and editors have given our paper. They raise many substantive points that warrant a response, but for reasons of journal space our reply must be brief. In our paper, we argue for an amended hybrid account of ‘disease’ in human medicine that takes normative ethics seriously, guards against pernicious classifications of disease and reconnects the concept with the goals of healthcare institutions in which disease diagnosis is embedded. Carel and Tekin, in (...) their respective pieces, raise issues about the objectivity and effective operationalisation of our account, Agar makes an ‘evolutionary’ case for disease concept eliminativism in mental health, and Wakefield and Conrad contend that our proposed modification to the harmful dysfunction account is unnecessary and undesirable. We will respond to each in turn. The rational moral justification component of our account raises difficult moral epistemological questions regarding which reasons are the weightiest ones and who should be allowed to participate in the rational justification process. Carel suggests that inevitable disagreement on this point undermines the alleged objectivity of our proposal. We agree with Tekin, however, that this is a feature of our account rather than a bug. What constitutes a good reason in moral deliberation is a question that goes to the very philosophical foundation of ethics ; but disagreement over which reasons are the weightiest ones does not prevent ethicists and policy makers from objectively assessing the strength of moral arguments by evaluating their empirical adequacy and logical structure, and this can take us a long way toward adjudication. The fact that rational justification has been used to support immoral practices and institutions does not warrant abandoning a reason-based approach to ethics any more than …. (shrink)
I intend, here, in reflecting on my life to see if, by taking what appear to me in retrospect to be three critical points of vantage from which to describe my situation, my intentions and the thought, if any, which lay behind them, I can be of service.
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.
This paper uses a social semiotic perspective to analyze Donald Trump’s domination of media coverage of the US presidential campaign from 16 June 2015, when he announced his candidacy for nomination as the Republican candidate until 8 November 2016, when he was elected as President of the United States. The paper argues that one of the keys to Donald Trump’s domination of media coverage was that, in presenting himself and his agenda, he foregrounded interpersonal meaning by making himself (...) the focus of attention of the campaign through strategies that invaded various semiotic spaces to form a “sub-semiosphere” of Trump dogma. The effects of this were that what he did and what he said captured the majority of media attention at the expense of his opponents, enabling him to win the election, despite his complete lack of background experience as a politician. (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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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 Trump examples 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 critical thinking instructors should restrain themselves from overreliance on Trump-examples. (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)
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.
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)
Australia is currently experiencing a prolonged period of water scarcity that is challenging a diverse range of water-dependent activities ranging from household gardening to horticultural production to the viability of riverine ecosystems. The political and ecological importance of water in Australia is not, however, only a recent phenomenon. For the majority of Australia’s settled history, water politics, economics, culture and engineering have reflected and embodied a dynamic relationship between Australian hydrology and Australian society. This essay examines that relationship by first (...) reviewing the work of the Australian historical geographer, Emeritus Professor J. M. Powell. For 40 years Powell has been writing about the process of natural resource appraisal and management in Australia and he has been Australia’s leading authority on the role of water in that process for most of that time. The essay then argues for an extension of Powell’s work by applying the insights provided by the scholars Karl Wittfogel, Donald Worster and Eric Swyngedouw. Their work, it is argued, suggests the possibility of a more nuanced understanding of water in Australia than that currently offered by the majority of the Australian literature, and ultimately provides some tools for thinking ourselves out of the current water crisis. (shrink)
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)
This paper is focused on the analysis of the relationship between Davidson’s classical essays in Philosophy of Language and the thesis he developed with the article “A Nice Derangement of Epitaphs”. I shall argue that the idea of language defended by Davidson in the eighties doesn’t present similarities with Wittgenstein’s approach, as it is assumed by some scholars. In this respect, I reject the idea according to which we should assume the existence of an “early” and a “later” Donald (...) Davidson after the publication of “A Nice Derangement of Epitaphs”. By analyzing his works, I will show that the main elements of his theory of meaning remain unchanged and that there are no radical changes in Davidson’s philosophical perspective on language and meaning. (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.
This thesis is an attempt to investigate the relation between the views of Wittgenstein as presented by Kripke and Donald Davidson on meaning and linguistic understanding. Kripke’s Wittgenstein, via his sceptical argument, argues that there is no fact about which rule a speaker is following in using a linguistic expression. Now, if one urges that meaning something by a word is essentially a matter of following one rule rather than another, the sceptical argument leads to the radical sceptical conclusion (...) that there is no such thing as meaning anything by any word. According to the solution Kripke’s Wittgenstein proposes, we must instead concentrate on the ordinary practice of meaning-attribution, that is, on the conditions under which we can justifiably ascribe meaning to each other and the utility such a practice has in our life. Davidson has also argued that following rules is neither necessary nor sufficient for explaining success in the practice of meaning something by an utterance. According to his alternative view of meaning, a speaker’s success in this practice is fundamentally a matter of his utterance being successfully interpreted by an interpreter in the way the speaker intended. On the basis of these remarks, Davidson raises objections to Kripke’s Wittgenstein’s sceptical argument and solution. In this thesis, I will argue that Davidson has failed to fully grasp the essentially sceptical nature of the argument and solution proposed by Kripke’s Wittgenstein. I will argue that as a result of this Davidson’s objections and his alternative solution to Kripke’s Wittgenstein’s sceptical argument are mistaken. These criticisms are pursued via an investigation of Davidson’s problematic reading of Quine’s sceptical arguments for the thesis of the indeterminacy of translation. Having criticized Davidson’s actual response to Kripke’s Wittgenstein, I will claim that Davidson’s best option for resisting the sceptical problem is to adopt a form of non-reductionism about meaning. Claudine Verheggen’s recent claim that Davidson’s use of the notion of triangulation will help to establish non-reductionism will be argued to be a failure. I will urge that the main obstacle in defending a non-reductionist view is the problem of accounting for the nature of self-knowledge of meaning and understanding. After discussing Davidson’s account of self-knowledge and Crispin Wright’s objection to this account, I will argue that, although Wright’s objection is ultimately unsuccessful, Davidson’s account fails for other reasons. Finally, I tentatively suggest that the resources for an alternative response to the sceptical problem can possibly be extracted from Davidson’s account of intending, which has some features suggestive of a judgement-dependent account of meaning and intention. (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)
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.