Kathrin Glüer

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780199552238
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy


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As an analogy, triangulation was introduced into the philosophy of mind and language in Donald Davidson's 1982 paper ‘Rational animals’. The analogy is used to support the claim that linguistic communication not only suffices to show that a creature is a rational animal in the sense of having propositional thoughts, but that it is necessary as well: ‘rationality is a social trait. Only communicators have it’. The triangulation argument employs the premise that in order to have any propositional thought whatsoever, a creature needs to have the concept of objective truth. To have this concept, however, it must stand in certain relations of interaction not only with objects or events in the world but also with other creatures sufficiently like itself. The most simple such situation involves a ‘triangle’ of two creatures interacting with each other and an object or event in the world.

Keywords: philosophy of mind; triangulation; linguistic communication; propositional thoughts; concept of objective truth; rationality

Article.  7210 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Language

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