Davidson on first-person authority

Philosophical Quarterly 47 (188):285-304 (1997)

Abstract

Davidson’s explanation of first‐person authority in utterance of sentences of the form ‘I V that p’ derives first‐person authority from the requirements of interpretation of speech. His account is committed to the view that utterance sentences are truth‐bearers, that believing that p is a matter of holding true an utterance sentence, and that a speaker’s knowledge of what he means gives him knowledge of what belief he expresses by his utterance. These claims are here faulted. His explanation of first‐person authority by reference to the requirements of interpretability is committed to the view that all understanding involves interpretation. This is argued to be a misconception of understanding and of speaker’s meaning. Davidson’s account involves acceptance of the cognitive assumption that normally when a person Vs that p, he knows that he does. This assumption is challenged. Throughout, Davidson’s conception is compared and contrasted with Wittgenstein’s

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Author's Profile

P. M. S. Hacker
Oxford University

References found in this work

Philosophical Papers.J. L. Austin - 1961 - Oxford University Press.
The Structure and Content of Truth.Donald Davidson - 1990 - Journal of Philosophy 87 (6):279-328.
First Person Authority.Donald Davidson - 1984 - Dialectica 38 (2‐3):101-112.

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