Southern Journal of Philosophy 52 (3):359-381 (2014)

Greg Lynch
North Central College
In a rare discussion of Gadamer's work, Davidson takes issue with Gadamer's claim that successful communication requires that interlocutors share a common language. While he is right to see a difference between his own views and Gadamer's on this point, Davidson appears to have misunderstood what motivates Gadamer's position, conflating it with that of his more familiar conventionalist interlocutors. This paper articulates Gadamer's view of the role of language in communicative understanding as an alternative to both Davidson's and that of the conventionalist writers Davidson critiques. It is argued, first, that Gadamer employs a conception of what individuates a language, and thus of what it means for two speakers to “share” a language, that Davidson never considers. By emphasizing the role of “application” in the historical development of languages, Gadamer develops a view in which languages are distinguished not by their particular semantic or syntactic rules, but by subtle differences between the concepts they express. Second, it is argued that the instances of “asymmetrical” communication—communication between interlocutors who have different sets of concepts at their disposal—that motivate Gadamer's position pose a challenge to Davidson's account of interpretative charity
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DOI 10.1111/sjp.12078
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Gadamer's Historically Effected and Effective Consciousness.Iñaki Xavier Larrauri Pertierra - forthcoming - Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review/Revue canadienne de philosophie:1-24.

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