A Presuppositional Approach to Conceptual Schemes

South African Journal of Philosophy 29 (4):404-421 (2010)
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Abstract
The current discussions of conceptual schemes and related topics are misguided; for they have been focused too much on the truth-conditional notions of meaning/concepts and translation/interpretation in Tarski's style. It is exactly due to such a Quinean interpretation of the notion of conceptual schemes that the very notion of conceptual schemes falls prey to Davidson's attack. We argue that what should concern us in the discussions of conceptual schemes and related issues, following the initiatives of I. Hacking, T. Kuhn, and N. Rescher, is not the truth-values of assertions, but rather the truthvalue-status of the sentences used to make the assertions. This is because the genuine conceptual innovation between alternative theories/languages does not lie in differences in determining the truth-values of their sentences, but turns on whether these sentences have truth-values when considered within the context of a competing one. The core of conceptual relativism does not consist in the claim that different conceptual schemes may yield incommensurable truth claims, but rather that different conceptual schemes may yield incompatible truth-value-status and therefore lead to distinct perceptions of reality. Conceptual schemes are no longer seen as sentential languages consisting of a set of sentences accepted as true, but rather seen as metaphysical presuppositions of presuppositional languages.[ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR].
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