Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy

 

Truth-theoretic Semantics and Its Limits [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 05 • Author/s: Kirk Ludwig
Topics: History of Analytic Philosophy, Philosophy of language, Theoretical philosophy

This paper takes up some limitations of truth-theoretic semantics connected with the requirement that knowledge of a compositional meaning theory for a language put one in a position to understand any potential utterance in the language. I argue that associating entities, such as properties, relations, and propositions, with natural language expressions is neither necessary nor sufficient to meet this requirement. I develop an account of how a meaning theory may be formulated in terms of a body of knowledge about a recursive truth theory for a language. I consider two…

Davidson: Decision and Interpretation [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 05 • Author/s: Pol-Vincent Harnay, Pétronille Rème
Topics: History of Analytic Philosophy, Philosophy of language, Philosophy of mind, Theoretical philosophy

Decision theory plays a central role in Davidson’s work. Based on the experimentations led in Stanford during the 1950s, it is possible to track down the origins and the foundations of the unified theory of thought, meaning and action. The‘wording effect’ and the omission of meanings undermine decision theory as a whole, hence the need to enlarge the basis of decision theory by integrating an interpretation theory that reflects mental holism more accurately.

Norm and Failure in Mind and Meaning [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 05 • Author/s: Akeel Bilgrami
Topics: History of Analytic Philosophy, Philosophy of language, Philosophy of mind, Theoretical philosophy

The paper first gives an argument for the Davidsonian thesis that norms constitute the human mind. Then it shows that that thesis is better formulated by Wittgenstein rather than by Davidson himself. And finally, it uses the Wittgensteinian formulation of the thesis to establish why Davidson was right to further claim that linguistic meaning was not normative despite the human mind being normatively constituted. Through this entire dialectic of the paper, the concept of failure is made central to the argument.

Radical Interpretation and Pragmatic Enrichment [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 05 • Author/s: Peter Pagin
Topics: Epistemology, History of Analytic Philosophy, Philosophy of language, Theoretical philosophy

I consider a problem from pragmatics for the radical interpretation project, relying on the principle of charity. If a speaker X in a context c manifests the attitude of holding a sentence s true, this might be because of believing, not the content of s in c, but what results from a pragmatic enrichment of that content. In this case,  the connection between the holding-true attitude and the meaning of s might be too loose for charity to confirm the correct interpretation hypothesis. To solve this problem, I apply the…

Language’s Dreamwork Reconsidered [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 05 • Author/s: Andreas Heise
Topics: History of Analytic Philosophy, Philosophy of language, Philosophy of mind

This paper offers both exegetical and systematic reconsiderations of Donald Davidson’s view on metaphor. In his essay What Metaphors Mean, Davidson argued against the idea that metaphors have any kind of propositional content beyond the literal meaning of the relevant sentence. Apart from this negative claim, Davidson also made a constructive proposal by suggesting that metaphor’s distinctive effect is to prompt a mental state of seeing-as. These two points seem connected insofar as Davidson makes the following assumptions. First, metaphors cause their distinctive effects in an a-rational way. Second, seeing-as…

Demystifying Davidson: Radical Interpretation meets Radical Enactivism [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 05 • Author/s: Daniel D. Hutto, Glenda Satne
Topics: Epistemology, History of Analytic Philosophy, Philosophy of language, Theoretical philosophy

Davidson’s signature ideas on the holism and autonomy of propositional thought have led some exegetes to hold that he advances a kind of transcendentalism that is discordant with a satisfactory naturalism. On the other hand, Davidson’s work has strong connections with naturalism, as some Quinean strands of his thinking make apparent. Two strands can thus be identified in Davidson’s thought. One emphasizes features of thought that set it apart from the rest of nature. The otherseeks to locate thought within nature. Taken to extremes these different strands in Davidson’s thinking…

Davidson’s Semantic Externalism: From Radical Interpretation to Triangulation [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 05 • Author/s: Claudine Verheggen
Topics: History of Analytic Philosophy, Philosophy of language, Theoretical philosophy

The received interpretation of Donald Davidson’s philosophy has it that his thoughts underwent a significant change between his early work and his later work, in particular, between his work on radical interpretation and his work on triangulation. It is maintained that the kind of semantic externalism Davidson advocated in his later work is importantly different from that advocated in the early work. Indeed, it is sometimes even maintained that his semantic externalism emerged only, roughly, in his later work. I argue that Davidson’s semantic externalism has always been not only…

On Searle on Austin on Truth

Issue: Issue 05 • Author/s: Odai Al Zoubi
Topics: Philosophy of language

John Searle gives two different interpretations to Austin’s view on truth: ‘the propositional interpretation’ and ‘the stating interpretation’. The former identifies what is true or false with the locutionary meaning, and the latter with the illocutionary act of stating. In this article, I argue that both interpretations are inaccurate, and I introduce a fresh interpretation that identifies what is true or false with the whole speech act.

Joining the Conspiracy [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 06 • Author/s: Lee Basham
Topics: Epistemology, Ethics, Philosophy of language, Theoretical philosophy

Accompanying the accusation of malevolent political conspiracy is the accusation of cover-up of these conspiracies by leading institutions of public information; mass media and national law enforcement. A common response to this accusation is that these institutions of public information will reliably reveal such political conspiracies, not cover them up. Unfortunately, the best arguments for this hope are now widely recognized to fail. Further, cover-up does not require descending control of the media by conspirators. The problem is much more complex, one endemic to our information hierarchies. This includes the…

Cass Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule on Conspiracy Theories [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 06 • Author/s: David Coady
Topics: Epistemology, History of Analytic Philosophy, Philosophy of language, Theoretical philosophy

I criticise Cass Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule’s influential critique of conspiracy theories in “Conspiracy Theories: Causes and Cures”. I argue that their position depends on an equivocation over the meaning of the term ‘conspiracy theory’. This equivocation reflects a widespread assumption that conspiracy theories tend to be false, unjustified and harmful, and that, as a result, we can speak as if all conspiracy theories are objectionable in each of these three ways. I argue that this assumption is itself false, unjustified, and harmful. There are many true, justified, and/or beneficial…
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