Language Interpretation and Individual Representationalism: Quine and Davidson

Tyler Burge

in Origins of Objectivity

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780199581405
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723223 | DOI:
Language Interpretation and Individual Representationalism: Quine and Davidson

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An important tradition of second-family Individual Representationalism centres on language. The chief representatives of this tradition are W. V. Quine and Donald Davidson. This chapter discusses the tradition of linguistic interpretation articulated by Quine and Davidson. Quine claims that the notions of meaning, reference, and representation lack objective status. He argues that attributions of representational content are indeterminate. He views psychology and semantics as less factual than natural science. Davidson's work inherits the Individual Representationalism of Quine and Strawson. He shares their basic assumption that to engage in objective reference, or representation of the physical environment, an individual must be able to think general criteria for applying representations. That is, the individual must be able to represent some basic conditions that make objectivity possible. In the subject's own representational capacities there must be a mirroring of some constitutive preconditions of objective representation, if objective representation is to occur.

Keywords: individual representationalism; W. V. Quine; Donald Davidson; language; objective representation

Chapter.  39024 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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