Radical Interpretation and Epistemology

Colin McGinn

in Knowledge and Reality

Published in print February 2002 | ISBN: 9780199251582
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598012 | DOI:
 Radical Interpretation and Epistemology

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In this companion to ‘Charity, Interpretation, and Belief’, McGinn broadens his attack on Davidson's principle of charity, arguing that charity is no more required for the ascription of notional beliefs (i.e. shared concepts) than it is for the ascription of relational beliefs. His argument takes the form of a reductio: if Davidson were right that about the inherently charitable nature of interpretation, then, McGinn argues, traditional sceptical worries (e.g. concerning the external world, other minds) would not even arise. But that is absurd. In the concluding section, McGinn presents his preferred (Quinean) method of interpretation, according to which the ascription of beliefs and meanings proceeds only after the attribution of perceptual experiences.

Keywords: belief; charity; concepts; content; Davidson; epistemology; experience; externalism; notional belief; Quine; radical interpretation; scepticism

Chapter.  8374 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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