TruthAndMeaningRedux7-20-09.pdf

TruthAndMeaningRedux7-20-09.pdf - Philos Stud DOI...

Info icon This preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

Truth and meaning redux Ernie Lepore Kirk Ludwig Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010 Abstract In this paper, we defend Davidson’s program in truth-theoretical semantics against recent criticisms by Scott Soames. We argue that Soames has misunderstood Davidson’s project, that in consequence his criticisms miss the mark, that appeal to meanings as entities in the alternative approach that Soames favors does no work, and that the approach is no advance over truth-theoretic semantics. Keywords Donald Davidson ± Truth-theoretic semantics ± Meaning ± Scott Soames 1 Introduction Forty-three years ago, Donald Davidson, in ‘‘Truth and Meaning’’ ( 1967 ), suggested that insight into meaning might be gained by reflection on how to construct and to confirm a Tarski-style truth theory for a natural language. The suggestion has been influential, but it has not been well understood. In a recent paper, Scott Soames argues that this project has now run its course ( 2008 ). He argues that Davidson’s two rationales for his project were unsuccessful and that what he sees as the most promising recent attempt along the same lines, by Affiliation of K. Ludwig after July 1, 2010: Department of Philosophy, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405-7005, USA. E. Lepore ( & ) Center for Cognitive Science, Rutgers University-New Brunswick, Piscataway, NJ 08854-8020, USA e-mail: [email protected] K. Ludwig Philosophy Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-8545, USA e-mail: [email protected] 123 Philos Stud DOI 10.1007/s11098-010-9536-x
Image of page 1

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

Jim Higginbotham, is likewise unsuccessful. It should be replaced, he argues, with an older style theory that assigns entities to expressions, and which aims to explain the meaning of complex expressions by showing how to recursively construct appropriate entities to assign to them on the basis of assignments to their significant parts. Davidson’s own animadversions against such theories, he argues, while not without force, can be avoided by appeal to some ideas from Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico - Philosophicus ( 1961 ). This paper argues (a) that Soames has misunderstood Davidson’s project, (b) that once we clarify the project, we can see it escapes his objections unscathed, and (c) that the appeal to meanings as entities does no work in Soames’s alternative approach to semantics and is no advance over truth-theoretic semantics. The program of the paper is as follows: we begin with Soames’s characterization of Davidson’s project, and a brief indication of how he mischaracterizes it. We then turn to Soames’s evidence for his interpretation. This involves both an account of the historical context, and a reading of a key passage in ‘‘Truth and Meaning.’’ We show that his reading of the historical context does not fit Davidson’s project and that placing the key passage in its proper context in ‘‘Truth and Meaning’’ as well as the rest of Davidson’s corpus shows Soames’s interpretation to be incorrect. To this end,
Image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.
  • Fall '14
  • Arindram Chakrabarti
  • Philosophy, Donald Davidson

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern