Davidson's semantics and the defense of common sense beliefs

John Michael Stolt, Fordham University


The dissertation appropriates Donald Davidson's semantics in defense of common sense beliefs about the world by arguing that a such a defense is implicit in Davidson's views concerning the foundations of communication. In the context of an overview of Davidson's semantic theory, I argue that there is a precedent and independently plausible characterization of common sense beliefs such that beliefs of this sort are methodologically basic to interpretation. The result--if one grants the view that a Tarski-like theory of truth could serve as a theory of meaning for a given object language, and also Davidson's account of how such a theory might be worked out on the basis of available empirical evidence via radical interpretation--is that it is necessary to possible communication that speaker and interpreter share common sense beliefs about the world. If so, then Davidson's argument that one's beliefs must in general be true, an argument based on the notion that truth, meaning, and belief, are conceptually interdependent, is necessarily a defense of beliefs of this sort.

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Recommended Citation

Stolt, John Michael, "Davidson's semantics and the defense of common sense beliefs" (1997). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9715523.