Greg Lynch
North Central College
Davidson holds that thinkers cannot employ radically different conceptual schemes, but he does not deny the fact that small-scale conceptual divergences are possible. He defends the former claim against Quine by appealing to interpretivism, the idea that ascriptions of intensional states to a speaker do no more than systematically record facts about the speaker’s behavior. From interpretivism it follows that it is theoretically irrelevant which set of concepts an interpreter uses to state her theory of meaning. This is what allows Davidson to avoid conceptual relativism while accepting Quine’s thesis that behavioral evidence necessarily underdetermines assignments of meaning to speakers. However, as Davidson seems not to have realized, interpretivism also rules out the possibility of uncontroversial, small-scale conceptual differences. This fact, I argue, should lead us to reject interpretivism.
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DOI 10.1080/09672559.2016.1189444
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Word and Object.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1960 - Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
Actions, Reasons, and Causes.Donald Davidson - 1963 - Journal of Philosophy 60 (23):685.
Mental Events.Donald Davidson - 1970 - In L. Foster & J. W. Swanson (eds.). Clarendon Press. pp. 207-224.

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