The Second Person

Donald Davidson

in Subjective, Intersubjective, Objective

Published in print September 2001 | ISBN: 9780198237532
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597312 | DOI:

Series: The Philosophical Essays of Donald Davidson (5 Volumes)

The Second Person

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The author argues that language is necessarily a social phenomenon. The argument draws heavily on considerations advanced in favour of the thesis that meaning something requires understanding, and being understood by, a second person. Davidson denies that it is necessary for successful communication between X and Y that X speaks as Y; in substitution of this requirement, Davidson proposes a three‐way speaker–speaker–world relation he labels ‘triangulation’, which is not constituted by syntax but by common stimuli and responses.

Keywords: communication; language; second person; social phenomenon; syntax; triangulation; understanding

Chapter.  6947 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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