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11. ProtoSociology: Volume > 10
Bookpublications within the Project
12. ProtoSociology: Volume > 10
13. ProtoSociology: Volume > 10
14. ProtoSociology: Volume > 10
Kent A. Peacock, Richard Feist The Einstein-DeSitter Controversy
15. ProtoSociology: Volume > 10
On ProtoSociology
16. ProtoSociology: Volume > 11
Richard N. Manning All Facts Great and Small
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I examine the arguments Donald Davidson has offered through the years concerning the ontological bona fides of facts. In “Truth and Meaning”, Davidson uses the so-called “slingshot” argument to the effect that if true sentences refer, then they are all coreferential. Through a detailed examination of the assumptions underlying this argument, I show that, while it is effective as part of a reductio of bottom-up, reference based semantics, it has no tendency to establish the truth of its negative conclusion concerning the existence of facts. Davidson also argues against facts by claiming they are of no help in the explication of truth. I claim that his repeated invocation of the slingshot in this context, as well as of arguments from other authors employing assumptions similar to the slingshot's, is inappropriate, especially in light of his own commitment to a top-down semantics — a committment inspired, ironically, by the reductio offered in “Truth and Meaning”. Davidson's other argument against truth as correspondence, namely that our grasp of facts is no better than our grasp of truths, is sound. But this argument does not show that there are no facts; it shows only that no theory of truth in terms of corre- pondence to facts can genuinely illuminate its explanandum.
17. ProtoSociology: Volume > 11
Barbara Fultner Of Parts and Wholes: The Molecularist Critique of Semantic Holism
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Pace Dummett, the issue between molecularism and holism does not turn on whether a meaning theory is compositional, but on how successful communication is conceived. Given a notion of partial understanding, molecularism escapes the two most prevalent objections against holism (learnability and communication). Holism, too, can escape these objections, provided we also grant the holist a notion of partial understanding and suitably amend our conception of successful communication.
18. ProtoSociology: Volume > 11
Louis Goble Re-Evaluating Supervaluations
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The method of supervaluations offers an elegant procedure by which semantic theory can come to terms with sentences that, for one reason or another, lack truth-value. I argue, however, that this method rests on a fundamental mistake, and so is unsuitable for semantics. The method of supervaluations, I argue, assigns semantic values to sentences based not on the semantic values of their components, but on the values of other, perhaps homophonic, but nevertheless distinct, expressions. That is because supervaluations are generated from classical valuations which necessarily require reinterpreting the component expressions, but the reinterpretation of an expression is tantamount to the introduction of a new expression, or alternatively, to a shift to an entirely new language. To confuse the expression of the language for which a semantic theory is developed with its reinterpreted counterpart, is to commit a fallacy of equivocation. That is the flaw within the method of supervaluations. We see it manifest in a number of examples.
19. ProtoSociology: Volume > 11
Gerhard Preyer, Michael Roth On Donald Davidson’s Philosophy: An Outline
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Donald Davidson's unified theory of language and action can be understood as a continuation of the traditional analytic approach within philosophy of language and action. In the following we give an outline of some of the main themes of his philosophy centered around his core theory of radical interpretation (RI). His theory of rationality, his thesis of the anomalousness of the mental, and the externalist approach in his model of triangulation all follow in a systematic way from RI. Yet, Davidson's philosophy can also be seen as giving a new systematic elaboration of central perspectives of W,v.O Quine's theory of language. In order to follow Davidson's main theses one therefore has to clarify the main differences and correspondences between both approaches.
20. ProtoSociology: Volume > 11
David Simpson Interpretation and Skill: On Passing Theory
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In this paper I argue that Donald Davidson's rejection of the notion of language, as commonly understood in philosophy and linguistics, is justified. However, I argue that his position needs to be supplemented by an account of the development and nurture of pre-linguistic communicative skills. Davidson argues (in ‘A Nice Derangement of Epitaphs' and elsewhere) that knowledge of a language (conceived of as a set of rules or conventions) is neither sufficient nor necessary for 'linguistic' communication. The strongest argument against the initial formulation is that while Davidson may have shown that knowledge of a language is not sufficient, he failed to show that it is not necessary. Subsequently, Davidson has invoked his Triangulation' thesis, to show that understanding can rest on the apprehension of mutuality in a shared objective world, and does not presuppose the sharing of rules or practices. I argue that the starting position arrived at from the triangulation thesis itself presupposes the possibility of communication. The triangulation thesis needs, therefore, to be supplemented by a (non-reductive) naturalistic account of non-linguistic communicative skills. In such an account we must posit shared practices (practices of mutual engagement with a shared world), but not an account of practices conceived on the model of rules or conventions. I note, finally, that by adopting such an approach we offer a way of explicating the formulation of passing theories, which in Davidson's account are the point at which communicative understanding occurs.