Rationality, Language, and the Principle of Charity

In Alfred R. Mele & Piers Rawling (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Rationality. New York: Oxford University Press (2004)
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Ludwig deals with the relations between language, thought, and rationality, and, especially, the role and status of assumptions about rationality in interpreting another’s speech and assigning contents to her psychological attitudes—her beliefs, desires, intentions, and so on. The chapter is organized around three questions: What is the relation between rationality and thought? What is the relation between rationality and language? What is the relation between thought and language? Ludwig argues that some large degree of rationality is required for thought and consequently that same degree of rationality at least is required for language since language requires thought. Thought, however, does not require language. In answering questions and, Ludwig gives particular attention to Davidson’s arguments for the Principle of Charity, according to which it is constitutive of speakers that they are largely rational and largely right about the world, and to Davidson’s arguments for the thesis that without the power of speech we lack the power of thought.

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Kirk Ludwig
Indiana University, Bloomington


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