Semantics

Download Donald Davidson's Philosophy of Language: An Introduction by Bjorn Ramberg PDF

By Bjorn Ramberg

ISBN-10: 0631164588

ISBN-13: 9780631164586

This e-book is an creation to and interpretation of the philosophy of language devised by means of Donald Davidson over the last 25 years. The guiding instinct is that Davidson's paintings is healthier understood as an ongoing try to purge semantics of theoretical reifications. visible during this gentle the hot assault at the proposal of language itself emerges as a usual improvement of his Quinian scepticism in the direction of "meanings" and his rejections of reference-based semantic theories.

Linguistic knowing is, for Davidson, basically dynamic, bobbing up in basic terms via a continuing strategy of thought development and reconstruction. the result's a perception of semantics within which the thought of interpretation and never the thought of understanding a language is fundamental.

during his publication Bjorn Ramberg presents a serious dialogue of reference-based semantic theories, tough the traditional debts of the main of charity and elucidating the thought of radical interpretation. the ultimate bankruptcy on incommensurability ties in with the discussions of Kuhn's paintings within the philosophy of technology and indicates yes hyperlinks among Davidson's analytic semantics and hermeneutic thought.

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Additional info for Donald Davidson's Philosophy of Language: An Introduction

Sample text

We saw that 'whether or not a given sequence satisfies a given sentential function depends only on those terms of the sequence which correspond . . with the free variables of the function' (Tarski, 1 956, p. 1 94). It is, in other words, the existence of the free variables that allows us to differen­ tiate between sequences in terms of their relation to sentential functions : Thus, in the extreme case, when the function is a [closed] sentence, and so contains no free variable . . the satisfaction of a function by a sequence does not depend on the properties of the terms of the sequence at all.

The feature of natural languages that Tarski refers to as their universality also gives rise to antinomies of self-reference like the paradox of the liar. Consistency is the price paid for the capacity of natural languages to absorb anything they touch, and it is precisely this capacity that distinguishes them from formalized languages. So, Tarski concludes, 'the very possibility of a consistent use of the expression "true sentence" which is in harmony with the laws of logic and the spirit of everyday language seems to be very questionable, and consequently the same doubt attaches to the possibility of constructing a correct definition of this ex­ pression' (Tarski, 1 956, p.

If our theory does make use of the concept, then it is ipso facto justified and defined. Going on to explicate reference further in terms of causal connections would then add nothing to our understanding of what it is for words to mean. The attractive simplicity of what we might call Davidson's razor depends on our being able to determine the success of a semantic theory without invoking any of the concepts it relies on in our construal of the evidential base. Hence his deconstruction of the idea of reference as a semantically fundamental relation in need of independent definition rests on two conditions .

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