Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation by Donald Davidson

By Donald Davidson

The eighteen essays during this assortment handle the query of what it's for phrases to intend what they do. Davidson covers such themes because the relation among theories of fact and theories of that means, translation, citation, trust, radical interpretation, reference, metaphor, and communique.

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On the question of conceptual interdependence, Quine seems, up to a point at least, in agreement, writing that 'the general term and the demonstrative singular are, along with identity, interdependent devices that the child of our culture must master all in one mad scramble'. 6 It remains true, if such claims of interdependence are tenable, that we could not learn a language in which the predicates meant what predicates in our language do mean and in which there were no demonstrative singular terms.

In apparently the same vein, Quine writes that an expression in quotation marks 'occurs there merely as a fragment of a longer name which contains, besides this fragment, the two quotation marks', and he compares the occurrence of an expression inside quotation marks with the occurrence of 'cat' in 'cattle'I3 and of , can' in 'canary'. 1 4 The function of letters in words, like the function of 'cat' in 'cattle', is purely adventitious in this sense: we could substitute a novel piece of typography everywhere in the language for 'cattle' and nothing in the semantical structure of the language would be changed.

24 Tru th and Meaning such a predicate would apply exactly to the true sentences. I hope that what I am saying may be desc ribed in part as defending the phil osophical importance of Tarski's seman tical concept of truth. But my defence is onl y distantly related, if at al l , to the question whether the concept Tarski has shown how to define is the (or a) philosophicall y interesting conception of truth, or the question whether Tarski has cast any l ight on the ordinary use of such words as 'true' and 'truth' .

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