The Method of Truth in Metaphysics

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)

 The Method of Truth in Metaphysics

Show Summary Details


In this essay, Davidson sets out to demonstrate that successful communication or mutual interpretability indicates the presence of a shared, and largely true, view of the world. Beliefs must be shared for the attribution of error or disagreement can only occur against a widely shared background: error and disagreement can only be local and never massive or total (Essay 13). Truth is no longer relative to conceptual schemes but only to languages that can be shown to be largely correct about the world. Consequently, by studying one's language one can derive ontological conclusions: a truth theory (such as that developed in Essay 2) will reveal the overall ontology required by a particular language, and while quotations and intensions can be dispensed with as distinct entities (on a proper analysis of them, given in Essays 1, 6, and 7), an ontology of events cannot, provided the language contains causal statements (Essays 6 and 8 of Essays on Actions and Events). By eliminating the concepts of satisfaction and denotation from our truth theories (cf Essay 15), Davidson can eliminate their concomitant ontology (cf Essay 3) as well as avoid extending the ideology of the interpreter's language too much beyond that of the language to be interpreted (Essay 4).

Keywords: belief; events; intension; interpretation; massive and local error; ontology; quotation; semantic concept of truth

Chapter.  6997 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.