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Grazer Philosophische Studien

Volume 36, 1989
The Mind of Donald Davidson

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Displaying: 1-10 of 17 documents


1. Grazer Philosophische Studien: Volume > 36
Johannes Brandl, Wolfgang Gombocz Preface
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2. Grazer Philosophische Studien: Volume > 36
Donald Davidson What is Present to the Mind?
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3. Grazer Philosophische Studien: Volume > 36
Ullin T. Place Thirty Five Years On — Is Consciousness Still a Brain Process?
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The writer's 1956 contention that "the thesis that consciousness is a process in the brain is ... a reasonable scientific hypothesis" is contrasted with Davidson's a priori argument in 'Mental events' for the identity of propositional attitude tokens with some unspecified and imspecifiable brain state tokens. Davidson's argument is rejected primarily on the grounds that he has failed to establish his claim that there are and can be no psycho-physical bridge laws. The case forthe empirical nature of the issue between the identity thesis and interactionism is re-stated in tiie light of an analysis of the causal relations involved. The same analysis is also used to demonstrate the incoherence of parallelism and epiphenomenalism as alternatives to interactionism.
4. Grazer Philosophische Studien: Volume > 36
Peter Lanz Davidson on Explaining Intentional Action
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The empirist tradition has it that the genuine explanation of the occurrence of an event requires citing its cause and citing its real cause requires specifying a law that subsumes the explanandum-event and the explanans-event Davidson denies that the mentalistically described antecedents of intentional actions can be subsumed under strict laws, but nonetheless affirms, that beliefs and desires arc causes of actions. Some critics pointed out that this position is not a consistentone and levelled the charge of epiphenomenalism against it. It is shown that there are reasons for thinking that Davidson's position is sound.
5. Grazer Philosophische Studien: Volume > 36
Matthias Varga von Kibéd Some Remarks on Davidson's Theory of Truth
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Preventive solutions for the paradoxes lead to the inexpressability of the adequacy conditions for the representation of truth within the system. Davidsonian theories of truth presuppose an understood language (for the background theory) which should permit the expression of the solutional principles for the paradoxes. The suitability of languages for this aim is tested by inferential validity paradoxes. They necessitate the introduction of an inner and an outer truthpredicate. For the paradoxes, two different types of circularity, often wrongly identified, have to be distinguished. For Davidsonian theories of truth, non-two-valuedness, different versions of convention T and "principled openess" of the background theory have to be postulated.
6. Grazer Philosophische Studien: Volume > 36
Ernest LePore, Barry Loewer What Davidson Should Have Said
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According to Davidson, a theory of meaning for a language L should specify information such that if someone had this information he would be in a position to understand L . He claims that a theory of truth for L fits this description. Many critics have argued that a truth theory is too weak to be a theory of meaning. We argue that these critics and Davidson's response to them have been misguided. Many critics have been misguided because they have not been clear aboutwhat a theory of meaning is supposed to do. These critics and Davidson himself, though, have also been misguided because they thought that by adding further conditions on a truth theory we can come up with an adequate theory of meaning. We will show that Davidson has available to him, though he apparently failed to see so, a reply to his critics in his own paratactic account of the semantics for indirect discourse reports.
7. Grazer Philosophische Studien: Volume > 36
Johannes Brandl What is Wrong with the Building Block Theory of Language?
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It is argued that Davidson's basic objection to the Building Block Method in semantics is neither that it gives the wrong explanation of how a first language is learned nor that it assigns a meaning to Single words prior to interpreting a whole language. The arguments against Fregean concepts and truth-values as the references of predicates and sentences are found to be equally superficial as the arguments against a primitive notion reference defmed in causal terms.Davidson's basic objection turns out to be that thoughts do not have a deep-structure which can be revealed by a correct analysis. His constraints on a theory of meaning do not allow for a distinction, as suggested by Dummett, between analysis and decomposition of thoughts. This forces us to a very general decision about how to do philosophy. As a non-reductivist I think it makes sense to assume a basic thought-structure. From this perspective the use of buildingblocks in semantics is vindicated.
8. Grazer Philosophische Studien: Volume > 36
Eva Picardi Davidson on Assertion, Convention and Belief
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The attitude of believing or "holding true" fulfils a twofold role in Davidson's theory of meaning: it provides the basic evidence for a theory of radical interpretation and it also constitutes the key notion in terms of which the linguistic act of assertion is to be characterized. It is however doubtful whether the notion of "holding true" can fulfil either of these two roles without presupposing an implicit grasp of the public significance of the practice of making assertions. The lack of specific conventions governing assertoric force and linking assertion to what is believed true is no ground for supposing that a theory of meaning can dispense with an account of the act of assertion: on the contrary, such an account is indispensable if we are to understand the bearing of the notion of truth on that of linguisticmeaning.
9. Grazer Philosophische Studien: Volume > 36
Hans Georg Zilian Convention and Assertion
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Donald Davidson has shocked his readers by arguing that assertion is not a conventional activity, thus attacking what was taken to be a truism by most philosophers of language. The paper claims that Davidson's argument is seriously flawed by his failure to distinguish a number of questions which should be kept separate. Assertion is a matter of seriousness, not of sincerity; departures from seriousness are marked by techniques which are undeniably conventional. There are no parallel indicators of seriousness, i. e. there is no assertion-sign. But this necessary absence of a conventional marker of seriousness from our communicative repertoire does not imply that the activity of asserting is not conventional. Assertion differs in important ways from eating or walking; it is these differences which have led Searle, Lewis, EHimmett and countless others to conceive of language as essentially conventional'. The paper argues that Davidson'snaturalistic challenge illuminates the (non-existing) role of the assertion-sign, while failing to undermine the credentials of the 'truism'.
10. Grazer Philosophische Studien: Volume > 36
Dunja Jutronić-Tihomirović Davidson on Convention
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Evaluating the usefulness of Davidson's semantics to computational understanding of language requires an examination of the role of a theory of truth in characterizing sentence meaning and logical form, and in particular of the connection between meaning and belief. The suggested conclusion is that the relevance of Davidson's semantics for computational semantics lies not so much in its methods and particular proposals of logical form as in its general orientation towards "desubstantializing" meaning.