The Perils and Pleasures of Interpretation

Donald Davidson

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780199552238
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191577451 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

The Perils and Pleasures of Interpretation

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There is a contrast between the difficulties that stand in the way of explaining in detail how we manage to find out what is in other people's minds and the relative ease with which we do it in practice. The first part of the article explores the obstacles that thwart theory, the second part describes features of our minds that work in our favor when it comes to practice. At the end it is suggested that the project of fully naturalizing our understanding of other minds — a project philosophers are bound to find enticing — is doomed. We understand others, but we cannot reduce this understanding to a branch of the natural sciences.

Keywords: interpretation; other minds; natural sciences; propositional attitudes; complex relations; dependencies

Article.  7202 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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