Tension within Triangulation

Southern Journal of Philosophy 46 (3):363-383 (2008)
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Abstract

Philosophers disagree about how meaning connects with history. Donald Davidson, who helped deepen our understanding of meaning, even disagreed with himself. As Ernest Lepore and Kirk Ludwig note, Davidson’s account of radical interpretation treats meaning as ahistorical; his Swampman thought experiment treats it as historical. Here I show that while Lepore and Ludwig are right that Davidson’s views are in tension, they are wrong about its extent. Unbeknownst to them, Davidson’s account of radical interpretation and Swampman thought experiment both rely—in different ways—on the same model of triangulation.I revise one of those ways to resolve the tension within Davidson’s views. I close by detailing what role history should play in Davidson’s views overall

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Nathaniel Goldberg
Washington and Lee University