On Saying That

Donald Davidson

in Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation

Published in print September 2001 | ISBN: 9780199246298
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191715181 | DOI:

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

 On Saying That

Show Summary Details


Davidson asks what the logical form of belief and utterance attributions are. We have to specify ‘Galileo said that p’ for a potentially infinite number of sentences that can occupy the place of p; yet in doing so we must resort to finite means (something he is not sure Quine's analysis succeeds in), i.e. we must assign subsentential structure to p and referents to its components. Yet, as soon as we do this we are forced to license substitutions within p of coreferring expressions; as these are known to fail, Davidson argues that we must be wrong either about the referents in p or about the logical form of the attribution as a whole. After ruling out the first diagnosis, insisting against Frege that the expressions occurring in intensional contexts must have their standard reference, Davidson develops an ingenious analysis of the attribution's logical form. On this analysis, called ‘parataxis’, the attribution splits into two sentences, ‘Galileo said that. p’, where the ‘that’ in the first sentence functions as a demonstrative picking out the second sentence only if the two ‘say the same’ or are identical in meaning (a notion Davidson then analyses in truth‐theoretic terms familiar from Essay 2).

Keywords: Frege; intensional contexts; logical form; parataxis; Quine; same‐saying; truth conditions

Chapter.  6811 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.