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2.3f. Interpretivist Accounts of Meaning and Content (Interpretivist Accounts of Meaning and Content on PhilPapers)

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Andrews, Kristin (2002). Interpreting autism: A critique of Davidson on thought and language. Philosophical Psychology 15 (3):317-332.   (Cited by 8 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Donald Davidson's account of interpretation purports to be a priori , though I argue that the empirical facts about interpretation, theory of mind, and autism must be considered when examining the merits of Davidson's view. Developmental psychologists have made plausible claims about the existence of some people with autism who use language but who are unable to interpret the minds of others. This empirical claim undermines Davidson's theoretical claims that all speakers must be interpreters of other speakers and that one need not be a speaker in order to be a thinker. The falsity of these theses has consequences for other parts of Davidson's world-view; for example, it undermines his argument against animal thought
Bouma, H. K. (2006). Radical interpretation and high-functioning autistic speakers: A defense of Davidson on thought and language. Philosophical Psychology 19 (5):639-662.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Donald Davidson argues in "Thought and Talk" that all speakers must be interpreters of other speakers: linguistic competence requires the possession of intentional concepts and the ability to attribute intentional states to other people. Kristin Andrews (in Philosophical Psychology, 15) has argued that empirical evidence about autism undermines this theoretical claim, for some individuals with autism lack the requisite "theory of mind" skills to be able to interpret, yet are competent speakers. In this paper, Davidson is defended on the grounds that the high-functioning autistic individuals in question have a more robust theory of mind than has been acknowledged, and that this is sufficient for them to be interpreters of other speakers. It is argued, further, that Davidson's theory would remain intact even if one or more autistic speakers lacking a theory of mind were to exist, as he makes conceptual claims about thought and language that are not vulnerable to empirical counterexamples
Brueckner, Anthony L. (1991). The omniscient interpreter rides again. Analysis (October) 199 (October):199-205.   (Cited by 2 | Google)
Byrne, Alex (1998). Interpretivism. European Review of Philosophy 3:199-223.   (Google)
Abstract: In the writings of Daniel Dennett and Donald Davidson we find something like the following bold conjecture: it is an a priori truth that there is no gap between our best judgements of a subject's beliefs and desires and the truth about the subject's beliefs and desires. Under ideal conditions a subject's belief-box and desire-box become transparent
Callaway, H. G. (ed.) (1993). Context for Meaning and Analysis, A Critical Study in the Philosophy of Language. Rodopi.   (Google)
Abstract: This book provides a concise overview, with excellent historical and systematic coverage, of the problems of the philosophy of language in the analytic tradition. Howard Callaway explains and explores the relation of language to the philosophy of mind and culture, to the theory of knowledge, and to ontology. He places the question of linguistic meaning at the center of his investigations. The teachings of authors who have become classics in the field, including Frege, Russell, Carnap, Quine, Davidson, and Putnam are critically analyzed. I share completely his conviction that contemporary Anglo-American philosophy follows the spirit of the enlightenment in insisting on intellectual sincerity, clarity, and the willingness to meet scientific doubts or objections openly. --Professor Henri Lauener, Editor of Dialectica.
Callaway, H. G. (1985). Meaning without Analyticity (Reprinted in Callaway, 2008 Meaning without Analyticity). Logique et Analyse 109 (March):41-60.   (Google)
Abstract: In a series of interesting and influential papers on semantics, Hilary Putnam has developed what he calls a “post-verificationist” theory of meaning. As part of this work, and not I think the most important part, Putnam defends a limited version of the analytic-synthetic distinction. In this paper I will survey and evaluate Putnam’s defense of analyticity and explore its relationship to broader concerns in semantics. Putnam’s defense of analyticity ultimately fails, and I want to show here exactly why it fails. However, I will also argue that this very failure helps open the prospect of a new optimism concerning the theory of meaning, a theory of meaning finally liberated from the dead weight of the notions of analyticity and necessary truth. Putnam’s work, in fact, makes valuable contributions to such a theory.
Callaway, H. G. & van Brakel, J. (1996). No Need to Speak the same Language? Review of Ramberg, Donald Davidson's Philosophy of Language. Dialectica, Vol. 50, No.1, 1996, pp. 63-71..   (Google)
Abstract: 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.
Callaway, H. G. (1988). Semantic competence and truth-conditional semantics. Erkenntnis 28 (1).   (Google)
Abstract: Davidson approaches the notions of meaning and interpretation with the aim of characterizing semantic competence in the syntactically characterized natural language. The objective is to provide a truth-theory for a language, generating T-sentences expressed in the semantic metalanguage, so that each sentence of the object language receives an appropriate interpretation. Proceeding within the constraints of referential semantics, I will argue for the viability of reconstructing the notion of linguistic meaning within the Tarskian theory of reference. However, the view proposed here involves a revision of Davidson’s con-ception of the object of semantic investigation. Taking (idealized) language-theories as the proper object of semantic characterization, provides solutions to outstanding problems in Davidson’s views, better approximates the practice in standard model-theoretic semantics, and incorporates the elements of semantic competence sought for in tradi¬tional theories of lexical analysis. Sources of evidence beyond those emphasized by Davidson will be invoked in order to allow for the selection of interpre¬tive T-sentences. In the final section, possible Quinean objections will be considered.
Davidson, Donald (1974). Belief and the basis of meaning. Synthese 27 (July-August):309-323.   (Cited by 98 | Google | More links)
Davidson, Donald (1984). Inquiries Into Truth And Interpretation. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 1067 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Now in a new edition, this volume updates Davidson's exceptional Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation (1984), which set out his enormously influential philosophy of language. The original volume remains a central point of reference, and a focus of controversy, with its impact extending into linguistic theory, philosophy of mind, and epistemology. Addressing a central question--what it is for words to mean what they do--and featuring a previously uncollected, additional essay, this work will appeal to a wide audience of philosophers, linguists, and psychologists
Davidson, Donald (1973). Radical interpretation. Dialectica 27:314-328.   (Cited by 198 | Google | More links)
Davidson, Donald (1994). Radical interpretation interpreted. Philosophical Perspectives 8:121-128.   (Cited by 6 | Google | More links)
Davidson, Donald (1993). Reply to Jerry Fodor and Ernest Lepore's Is Radical Interpretation Possible?. In Reflecting Davidson, Stoecker, Ralf. Hawthorne: De Gruyter.   (Google)
Davidson, Donald (1980). Toward a unified theory of meaning and action. Grazer Philosophische Studien 11:1-12.   (Cited by 18 | Google)
Davidson, Donald (1989). The conditions of thought. In The Mind of Donald Davidson. Netherlands: Rodopi.   (Google)
Davidson, Donald (2001). What thought requires. In Joao Branquinho (ed.), The Foundations of Cognitive Science. Oxford: Clarendon Press.   (Cited by 7 | Google)
Engel, Pascal (1988). Radical interpretation and the structure of thought. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 88:161-177.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Fodor, Jerry A. (1993). Is radical interpretation possible? In Reflecting Davidson, Stoecker, Ralf. Hawthorne: De Gruyter.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Fodor, Jerry A. & LePore, Ernest (1994). Is radical interpretation possible? Philosophical Perspectives 8:101-119.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Gauker, Christopher (1988). Objective interpretationism. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 69 (June):136-51.   (Cited by 2 | Google)
Gauker, Christopher (1986). The principle of charity. Synthese 69 (October):1-25.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Genova, Anthony C. (1991). Craig on Davidson: A thumbnail refutation. Analysis (October) 195 (October):195-198.   (Google)
Gerrans, Philip (2004). Cognitive architecture and the limits of interpretationism. Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 11 (1):42-48.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Glezer, Tal (2005). Conversation and Conservation. Iyyun: The Jerusalem Philosophical Quarterly 54.   (Google)
Gl, (2006). Triangulation. In E. Lepore & B. Smith (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Abstract: in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language, ed. E. Lepore/B. Smith, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2006, 1006-1019
Cook, John R. (2009). Is Davidson a Gricean? Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review/Revue canadienne de philosophie 48 (3):557-575.   (Google)
Abstract: In his recent collection of essays, Language, Truth and History (2005), Donald Davidson appears to endorse a philosophy of language which gives primary importance to the notion of the speaker’s communicative intentions, a perspective on language not too dissimilar from that of Paul Grice. If that is right, then this would mark a major shift from the formal semanticist approach articulated and defended by Davidson in his Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation (1984). In this paper, I argue that although there are many similarities between these two thinkers, Davidson has not abandoned his earlier views on language
Jackman, Henry (1996). Radical interpretation and the permutation principle. Erkenntnis 44 (3):317-326.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Jorgensen, Andrew (2008). Lewis's synthesis. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 16 (1):77 – 84.   (Google | More links)
Klein, Peter D. (1986). Radical interpretation and global skepticism. In Truth and Interpretation: Perspectives on the Philosophy of Donald Davidson. Cambridge: Blackwell.   (Cited by 8 | Google)
Kriegel, Uriah (forthcoming). Cognitive Phenomenology as the Basis of Unconscious Content. In T. Bayne & M. Montague (eds.), Cognitive Phenomenology. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Abstract: Since the seventies, it has been customary to assume that intentionality is independent of consciousness. Recently, a number of philosophers have rejected this assumption, claiming intentionality is closely tied to consciousness, inasmuch as non- conscious intentionality in some sense depends upon conscious intentionality. Within this alternative framework, the question arises of how to account for unconscious intentionality, and different authors have offered different accounts. In this paper, I compare and contrast four possible accounts of unconscious intentionality, which I call potentialism, inferentialism, eliminativism, and interpretivism. The first three are the leading accounts in the existing literature, while the fourth is my own proposal, which I argue to be superior. I then argue that an upshot of interpretivism is that all unconscious intentionality is ultimately grounded is a specific kind of cognitive phenomenology.
Kukla, Rebecca (2000). How to get an interpretivist committed. Protosociology 14:180-221.   (Google)
Laurier, Daniel (2001). Non-conceptually contentful attitudes in interpretation. Sorites 13 (October):6-22.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
LePore, Ernest (ed.) (1986). Truth and Interpretation: Perspectives on the Philosophy of Donald Davidson. Cambridge: Blackwell.   (Cited by 72 | Google)
Lewis, David (1974). Radical interpretation. Synthese 27 (July-August):331-344.   (Cited by 77 | Google | More links)
Malpas, Jeff E. (1991). Holism and indeterminacy. Dialectica 47:47-58.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Manning, Richard N. (1995). Interpreting Davidson's omniscient interpreter. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 25 (3):335-374.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Manning, Richard N. (2003). Interpretation, reasons, and facts. Inquiry 46 (3):346-376.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Donald Davidson argues that his interpretivist approach to meaning shows that accounting for the intentionality and objectivity of thought does not require an appeal, as John McDowell has urged it does, to a specifically rational relation between mind and world. Moreover, Davidson claims that the idea of such a relation is unintelligible. This paper takes issue with these claims. It shows, first, that interpretivism, contra Davidson's express view, does not depend essentially upon an appeal to a causal relation between events in the world and speakers' beliefs. Second, it shows that interpretivism essentially, if implicitly, depends upon interpreters' appealing to facts taken in in perception, and that such facts are suited to provide a rational connection between mind and world. The paper then argues that none of Davidson's legitimate epistemological arguments tell against the idea that experience, in the form of the propositional contents of perception, can play a role in doxastic economy. Finally, it argues that granting experience such a role is consistent with Davidson's coherentist slogan that nothing can count as a reason for holding a belief except another belief
McCulloch, Gregory (1998). Intentionality and interpretation. In Anthony O'Hear (ed.), Contemporary Issues in the Philosophy of Mind. Cambridge University Press.   (Cited by 3 | Google)
McCarthy, Timothy (2002). Radical Interpretation and Indeterminacy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: McCarthy develops a theory of radical interpretation--the project of characterizing from scratch the language and attitudes of an agent or population--and applies it to the problems of indeterminacy of interpretation first described by Quine. The major theme in McCarthy's study is that a relatively modest set of interpretive principles, properly applied, can serve to resolve the major indeterminacies of interpretation
Mcginn, Colin (1986). Radical interpretation and epistemology. In Truth and Interpretation: Perspectives on the Philosophy of Donald Davidson. Cambridge: Blackwell.   (Cited by 9 | Google)
Moran, Richard A. (1994). Interpretation theory and the first-person. Philosophical Quarterly 44 (175):154-73.   (Cited by 12 | Google | More links)
Pettit, Philip (1994). Towards interpretation. Philosophia 23 (1-4):157-170.   (Google | More links)
Picardi, Eva (1989). Davidson on assertion, convention and belief. In The Mind of Donald Davidson. Netherlands: Rodopi.   (Google)
Preyer, Gerhard (1998). Interpretation and rationality: Steps from radical interpretation to the externalism of triangulation. Protosociology 11:245-260.   (Google)
Putnam, Hilary (1987). Computational psychology and interpretation theory. In Artificial Intelligence. St Martin's Press.   (Cited by 13 | Google)
Ramberg, B. (2004). Naturalizing idealizations: Pragmatism and the interpretivist strategy. Contemporary Pragmatism 1 (2):1-63.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Rawling, Piers (2003). Radical interpretation. In Donald Davidson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.   (Cited by 7 | Google)
Saka, Paul (2007). Spurning charity. Axiomathes.   (Google | More links)
Sinclair, Robert (2002). What is radical interpretation? Davidson, Fodor, and the naturalization of philosophy. Inquiry 45 (2):161-184.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Jerry Fodor and Ernest Lepore have recently criticized Davidson's methodology of radical interpretation because of its apparent failure to reflect how actual interpretation is achieved. Responding to such complaints, Davidson claims that he is not interested in the empirical issues surrounding actual interpretation but instead focuses on the question of what conditions make interpretation possible. It is argued that this exchange between Fodor and Lepore on one side, and Davidson on the other, cannot be viewed simply as a naturalist reaction to non-naturalist philosophical inquiry. Through a careful excavation of the hidden assumptions and commitments underlying this debate, we recognize a more serious disagreement over the intellectual obligations of naturalism; a position with a firm hold on current philosophical imaginations. In the process, we gain a new appreciation for how such commitments shape these naturalist positions, and recognize that any resolution to this specific debate will require careful attention to the divergent commitments that are its real source
Smith, Barry C. (2006). Davidson, interpretation and first-person constraints on meaning. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 14 (3):385-406.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: International Journal of Philosophical Studies 0967-2559 (print)/1466-4542 (online) Original Article
Stenius, Erik (1976). Comments on Donald Davidson's paper Radical Interpretation. Dialectica 30:35-60.   (Google)
Taschek, William W. (2002). Making sense of others: Donald Davidson on interpretation. Harvard Review of Philosophy 10:27-40.   (Cited by 3 | Google)
Tumulty, Maura (2006). Davidson's fear of the subjective. Southern Journal of Philosophy 44 (3):509-532.   (Google)
Williams, Robert (2008). The price of inscrutability. Noûs 42 (4):600-641.   (Google | More links)
Verheggen, Claudine (2007). Triangulating with Davidson. Philosophical Quarterly 57 (226):96-103.   (Google | More links)
Weir, Alan (online). Indeterminacy of translation.   (Google)
Abstract: in Ernest Lepore and Barry C. Smith (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. Chapter Eleven, pp. 233-249
Williams, J. Robert G. (2007). Eligibility and inscrutability. Philosophical Review 116 (3).   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Inscrutability arguments threaten to reduce interpretationist metasemantic theories to absurdity. Can we find some way to block the arguments? A highly influential proposal in this regard is David Lewis’ ‘eligibility’ response: some theories are better than others, not because they fit the data better, but because they are framed in terms of more natural properties. The purposes of this paper are (1) to outline the nature of the eligibility proposal, making the case that it is not ad hoc, but instead flows naturally from three independently motivated elements; and (2) to show that severe limitations afflict the proposal. In conclusion, I pick out the element of the eligibility response that is responsible for the limitations: future work in this area should therefore concentrate on amending this aspect of the overall theory
Williams, Robert (2008). Gavagai again. Synthese 164 (2).   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Quine (1960, Word and object. Cambridge, Mass.:MIT Press, ch. 2) claims that there are a variety of equally good schemes for translating or interpreting ordinary talk. ‘Rabbit’ might be taken to divide its reference over rabbits, over temporal slices of rabbits, or undetached parts of rabbits, without significantly affecting which sentences get classified as true and which as false. This is the basis of his famous ‘argument from below’ to the conclusion that there can be no fact of the matter as to how reference is to be divided. Putative counterexamples to Quine’s claim have been put forward in the past (see especially Evans 1975; 1975, Journal of Philosophy, LXXII(13), 343–362. Reprinted in McDowell (Ed.), Gareth Evans: Collected papers. Oxford: Clarendon Press.), and various patches have been suggested (e.g. Wright (1997, The indeterminacy of translation. In C. Wright & B. Hale (Eds.), A companion to the philosophy of language (pp. 397–426). Oxford: Blackwell)). One lacuna in this literature is that one does not find any detailed presentation of what exactly these interpretations are supposed to be. Drawing on contemporary literature on persistence, the present paper sets out detailed semantic treatments for fragments of English, whereby predicates such as ‘rabbit’ divide their reference over four-dimensional continuants (Quine’s rabbits), instantaneous temporal slices of those continuants (Quine’s rabbit-slices) and the simple elements which compose those slices (undetached rabbit parts) respectively. Once we have the systematic interpretations on the table, we can get to work evaluating them
Williams, J. Robert G. (2008). Permutations and Foster problems: Two puzzles or one? Ratio 21 (1):91–105.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: How are permutation arguments for the inscrutability of reference to be formulated in the context of a Davidsonian truth-theoretic semantics? Davidson (1979) takes these arguments to establish that there are no grounds for favouring a reference scheme that assigns London to “Londres”, rather than one that assigns Sydney to that name. We shall see, however, that it is far from clear whether permutation arguments work when set out in the context of the kind of truth-theoretic semantics which Davidson favours. The principle required to make the argument work allows us to resurrect Foster problems against the Davidsonian position. The Foster problems and the permutation inscrutability problems stand or fall together: they are one puzzle, not two