Tag Archives: Davidson

Donald Davidson: Looking Back, Looking Forward

Volume 7.2 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open access.

This volume is a special issue: Donald Davidson: Looking back, Looking forward, edited by Claudine Verheggen. The volume contains five substantial articles, as well as an introductory essay. Here is an abstract:

The papers collected in this issue were solicited to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of Donald Davidson’s birth. Four of them discuss the implications of Davidson’s views—in particular, his later views on triangulation—for questions that are still very much at the centre of current debates. These are, first, the question whether Saul Kripke’s doubts about meaning and rule-following can be answered without making concessions to the sceptic or to the quietist; second, the question whether a way can be found to answer Davidson’s own doubts about the continuity of non-propositional thought and language; third, the question whether normative properties can be at once causal and prescriptive; fourth, the question whether folk psychological explanations can be at once illuminating and autonomous. The fifth paper reexamines Davidson’s take on the principle of compositionality, which always was at the centre of his theorizing about language.

Table of contents

  1. Claudine Verheggen: Volume Introduction
  2. Olivia Sultanescu and Claudine Verheggen: Davidson’s Answer to Kripke’s Sceptic
  3. Dorit Bar-On: Crude Meaning, Brute Thought (or: What Are They Thinking?!)
  4. Robert Myers: Davidson’s Meta-Normative Naturalism
  5. Karsten R. Stueber: Davidson, Reasons, and Causes: A Plea for a Little Bit More Empathy
  6. Peter Pagin: Compositionality in Davidson’s Early Work

JHAP is a free, open-access peer reviewed journal. It is available at jhaponline.org. Submissions welcome!

Davidson on Practical Knowledge

Volume 3.9 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy [JHAP] has now been published.
This issue features an article by David Hunter entitled “Davidson on Practical Knowledge”. Here is an abstract:

Did Donald Davidson agree with G.E.M. Anscombe that action requires a distinctive form of agential awareness? The answer is No, at least according to the standard interpretation of Davidson’s account of action. A careful study of Davidson’s early writings, however, reveals a much more subtle conception of the role of agential belief in action. While the role of the general belief in Davidson’s theory is familiar and has been much discussed, virtually no attention has been paid to the singular belief. This essay makes a start on remedying this neglect. I begin, in section 1, by examining Davidson’s claim that for a desire or belief to rationalize and cause an action it must have a suitable generality. It must, he says, be ‘logically independent’ of the action itself. While he was clear about this requirement in the case of the desire that forms part of a person’s primary reason, I show in section 2 that his early treatment of belief confuses general and singular beliefs. This confusion reflects his failure clearly to distinguish the two roles belief can play in his account of action: as rationalizing cause and as agential awareness. Somewhat surprisingly, though, after he carefully drew the distinction and announced that intentional action requires practical knowledge, he pretty much ignored it. This may explain why some have assumed that Davidson parted ways with Anscombe on this. But a careful study of their writings shows that in fact they held remarkably similar views on the nature and need for practical knowledge.