Chapter

Representation and Interpretation

Donald Davidson

in Problems of Rationality

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9780198237549
Published online August 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191601378 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198237545.003.0006
Representation and Interpretation

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Works out the implications of the claims of Ch. 5. Concepts used to explain actions of thinking creatures are irreducibly causal: the explanatory causal vocabulary that we call upon to interpret the semantics of a thinking object or creature is normative, relying on the interpreter's own standards of rationality. Sciences like physics, on the other hand, seek explanations and laws in which causal concepts no longer figure. Neither knowledge of the syntactical program of a computer nor knowledge of the neurophysiology of an organism warrant our attributing to the object or creature a holistic normative network of concepts, acquired through its interactions with the surrounding world. Consequently, information, ends, or strategies can be represented in such a (syntactical or neurophysiological) system, but the system cannot be interpreted as having the information, ends, or strategies. Generally, then, the difference between mind and body is not an ontological difference between types of entities, but a difference between schemes of classificatory concepts.

Keywords: actions; causal vocabulary; explanation; information; interpretation; rationality; representation; semantics; syntax

Chapter.  5695 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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