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Reviewed by William W. Taschek, Ohio State University The work that Donald Davidson has produced since the publication of his original two collections, Essays on Actions and Events and Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation 1 draws out, develops and defends what are arguably among the most profound and controversial implications of his earlier work—implications often not remarked upon there or at best only hinted at.
The volume here under review, Interpreting Davidson, offers an early taste of things to come. But it is not clear that there is in fact a serious issue between Tersman and Davidson here.
Like Davidson, he accepts the idea that nothing can play the role of a reason or evidence for a belief that does not possesses propositional content. But McDowell seems to argue that if the connection between our perceptual beliefs and the world is merely causal—if, that is, it is not mediated by something that can serve as a reason for it—then we lose our sense of how our perceptual beliefs can themselves legitimately play the reason-giving role that we take to be essential to empirical knowledge.
To bridge this gap, McDowell encourages us to acknowledge the existence of a new propositional attitude. Like a perceptual belief, it is fully conceptualized, but unlike belief, it seems to involve no commitment to the truth of the relevant propositional content no subjective probabilityand so is in no need of reasons or evidence.
Presumably such attitudes, and their contents, derive from our causal contact with the world, but, being fully conceptualized, they are now available to play the role of reasons. But as Davidson points out, it is difficult to understand how an attitude with no subjective probability can provide epistemic reasons for a belief.
But while it is clear that, for Davidson, entailing skepticism is a serious mark against any theory, he never rejects a theory simply by invoking skepticism in a reductio-style argument.
Ramberg offers what he takes to be an alternative, but still Davidsonian, response to skepticism. Roughly and in barest outline, the triangle Davidson has in mind involves the following elements. First, via perception, there are causal connections between two creatures reacting in systematic ways to some feature of the environment.
Second, again via perception, there are causal connections between these creatures and their reactions. Davidson argues that the triangulation scenario is, in the first instance, key to understanding the very possibility of thought about an objective reality: Triangulation is also essential to our understanding of how the contents of perceptual beliefs are determined.
Finally, Davidson invokes triangulation in accounting for the ostensive learning of language and in explaining how radical interpretation is possible.
Pagin complains with some justice that Davidson has not always been as clear as one might like in distinguishing these various tasks, nor in explaining how they relate to each other.
This is not to say that no puzzling issues remain. To be sure, having propositional thought requires having attitudes with objective truth conditions. What is less clear is why having attitudes with objective truth conditions requires possessing the concept of objective truth. But it is not altogether clear where the alleged tension lies.
As Davidson points out, the concepts that he insists are normative are all psychological concepts, while truth is not a psychological concept nor does it entail one. Engel argues, however, that there is a clear and reasonable sense in which we can and must view truth as a norm of belief: But for Davidson, the normative concepts relevant to belief are those of justification and having reasons for.
And while these concepts may be essentially linked to truth perhaps like the concept of a good knife is essentially linked to sharpness there is no reason to suppose that the concept of truth or sharpness is itself a normative concept.
But this is plainly an overly narrow understanding of the normative—one, it seems to me, that fails to capture the very sense in which Davidson himself wants to insist that various psychological concepts are normative.
The analogy presupposes that across interpretations there is an invariant structure or framework consisting of relata and relations. But it is hard to see why Davidson—or anyone else attracted by the original analogy—would agree to this.
If I treat myself as authoritative, if I know what I think—and know that I know this without evidence—then surely there must be an answer to the question, How do I know?
Stjernberg finds no satisfactory way for Davidson to answer this question. Davidson is not sure whether the question itself is legitimate. The remaining essays in this volume concern issues of logical form and compositionality.
For all the lip service that is played to questions of logical form, few authors, if any, attempt to offer anything close to a rigorous account of this notion.
Lepore and Ludwig define sameness of logical form in terms of interpretive truth theories. But it is unclear how we can be assured that we have an interpretive truth theory for a language unless we are confident that it assigns correct logical forms to the sentences in that language.
Like Davidson, he argues that the logical forms of such sentences are best viewed as quantifying over events. In his commentary, Davidson, surprised by this despair, suggests how he would handle the cases that trouble Guttenplan.
It is not clear to me, though, whether Guttenplan would be satisfied. To account for compositionality, Horwich proposes that we introduce names for the meanings of the primitive terms of the language. But where did this less than deflationary assumption come from?
How can two names in a row refer to a single object? As will be evident by now, the essays in this volume range over a wide variety of topics and are not of uniform quality.
New editions of each of these volumes have recently been published by Oxford University Press.Subjective, Intersubjective, Objective, by Donald Davidson.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, Pp. xviii + bring together virtually all of Donald Davidson’s work not collected in Essays on Actions and Events Radical interpretation is the centerpiece of Davidson’s philosophical project. Radical interpretation is interpretation on.
Published in by Oxford University Press, “Subjective, Intersubjective, Objective” is the third installment in a five-volume collection of papers by Donald Davidson.
Davidson, an influential late 20th century American philosopher, has made notable contributions in the philosophy of language, mind, action and epistemology/5(4). Donald Herbert Davidson (March 6, – August 30, ) was an American timberdesignmag.com served as Slusser Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley from to after having also held teaching appointments at Stanford University, Rockefeller University, Princeton University, and the University of .
Donald Davidson has prepared a new edition of his classic collection of Essays on Actions and Events, including two additional essays. In this seminal investigation of the nature of human action, Davidson argues for an ontology which includes events along with persons and other objects.
Davidson’s papers were collected in four volumes: Essays on Actions and Events (), Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation (), Subjective, Intersubjective, Objective (), and Truth, Language, and History ().
Subjective, Intersubjective, Objective is the long-awaited third volume of philosophical writings by Donald Davidson, whose influence on philosophy since the s has been deep and broad.