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Journal of Philosophical Research

Volume 19, 1994

Daniel Laurier
Pages 345-372
DOI: 10.5840/jpr_1994_8

Pangloss, L’Erreur et La Divergence

The theory of radical interpretation, as based on the principle of charity, sets a priori limits on the possibility that different agents have different beliefs, and on the possibility that one has false beliefs. David Papineau put forward a teleological approach to intentional states which, he claims, doesn’t have these unacceptable consequences. Having distinguished half a dozen of different forms that the problem of radical interpretation might take, I show that Papineau’s approach is not radically different from those based on the principle of charity. Finally, I suggest that the consequences of the principle of charity with respect to the problems of error and divergence are in fact both unavoidable and acceptable.

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