Davidson’s Wittgenstein

Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy 8 (5):1-26 (2020)
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Abstract

Although the later Wittgenstein appears as one of the most influential figures in Davidson’s later works on meaning, it is not, for the most part, clear how Davidson interprets and employs Wittgenstein’s ideas. In this paper, I will argue that Davidson’s later works on meaning can be seen as mainly a manifestation of his attempt to accommodate the later Wittgenstein’s basic ideas about meaning and understanding, especially the requirement of drawing the seems right/is right distinction and the way this requirement must be met. These ideas, however, are interpreted by Davidson in his own way. I will then argue that Davidson even attempts to respect Wittgenstein’s quietism, provided that we understand this view in the way Davidson does. Having argued for that, I will finally investigate whether, for Davidson at least, his more theoretical and supposedly explanatory projects, such as that of constructing a formal theory of meaning and his use of the notion of triangulation, are in conflict with this Wittgensteinian quietist view.

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Ali Hossein Khani
Iranian Institute of Philosophy (IRIP)

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