Swampman, response-dependence, and meaning

In Gerhard Preyer (ed.), Donald Davidson on Truth, Meaning, and the Mental. Oxford University Press (2012)
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Ernest Lepore and Kirk Ludwig correctly observe that Donald Davidson’s account of radical interpretation is in tension with his Swampman thought experiment. Nonetheless, I argue, they fail to see the extent of Davidson’s tension—and so do not handle it adequately—because they fail to appreciate that the thought experiment pits two incompatible response-dependent accounts of meaning against one another. I take an account of meaning to be response-dependent just in case it links the meaning of terms in an a priori manner to the responses that a suitable subject under suitable conditions could or did have to those terms. That Davidson proposes two such accounts is deeply problematic for his program. After explaining the sense in which Davidson endorses two incompatible response-dependent accounts of meaning, I use that explanation to resolve the tension myself.



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Nathaniel Goldberg
Washington and Lee University

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Davidson, Dualism, and Truth.Nathaniel Goldberg - 2012 - Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy 1 (7).

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