Davidson on the Objectivity of Thought
Leong, Wai Chun
|Keywords:||客觀性;思想;三角測量;徹底詮釋;自我知識;Objectivity;Thought;Triangulation;Radical Interpretation;Self-Knowledge||Issue Date:||2007||Abstract:||
According to Davidson, there are three varieties of knowledge, or three ‘different mode of access to reality’: knowledge of one’s own mind, knowledge of other minds, and knowledge about the world. On the one hand, all three varieties of knowledge are mutually independent, i.e., no one of them could be reduced to other two or another one of them; on the other hand, all three of them are essential for us to have any knowledge, that is, no knowledge would be possible without any one of them. Nevertheless, there is at least one thing these three varieties of knowledge are in common: objectivity. The objectivity of thought is explained in Davidson’s thesis of triangulation. Roughly speaking, triangulation is a process consists of two persons and a world they share, each person knows what the other says mean through observing the world they shared and the other’s reaction to it. However, his account concerns mainly knowledge about external world, and knowledge about other minds. It is not obvious how self-knowledge could be explained by triangulation. The problem is that regarding to self-knowledge, it seems that nothing can serves as the distal cause that shared by both the speaker and interpreter.
In this thesis I propose that there is a way to specify the distal cause for self-knowledge so that the objectivity of self-knowledge can be explained by the thesis of triangulation. The first chapter concerns how Frege and Russell account for the objectivity of thought. Frege tries to guarantee the objectivity of thought by the objectivity of language, but how the account of the access to thought through language explains the objectivity of thought is unclear, for Frege did not work this out. Russell attempts to explain that propositions are objective because of the corresponding part of the world which made it true or false is objective. However, this attempt presupposed the correspondence theory of truth, a theory that Davidson’s slingshot shot argument shows has no explanatory power, and the verification theory of meaning, which Quine shows is an unsuccessful attempt.
In chapter two I will explain how Quine shows that thoughts are objective because observation sentences refers to the way things are. But this approach presupposed the distinction between observation sentences and non-observation sentences in a language, and observation sentences are evidence for knowledge of external world. According to Davidson, however, any theory assuming this distinction fails to block the challenge from scepticism about knowledge of external world.
In the first section of chapter three I will present Davidson’s theory of meaning based on empirical theory of truth. In the second part of this chapter I will present Davidson’s argument against scepticism regarding to knowledge. He thinks that beliefs are, by their nature, generally true; thus it is impossible for our beliefs as a whole is false.
In chapter four I will show how Davidson explains the objectivity of thought by the thesis of triangulation. And I will argue that there are distal causes for self-knowledge so that the objectivity of self-knowledge can be explained by the thesis of triangulation.
|Appears in Collections:||哲學系|
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