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Donald Davidson's principle of charity.

Fitzgerald, G.; (2005) Donald Davidson's principle of charity. Masters thesis , University of London. Green open access

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Abstract

The claim of this thesis is that Davidson's Principle of Charity is not a necessary condition on constructing a theory of meaning for a natural language. There are means other than the application of Davidson's Principle of Charity by which an interpreter can achieve the disentanglement of questions of meaning and belief for which Davidson's principle was enlisted. These other means consist in the employment of evidence about speakers, and speaker's interaction with their environment, from the human sciences such as psychology and linguistics. The thesis includes a detailed account of the content, status and development of Davidson's Principle of Charity placed in the wider context of his approach to the philosophy of language. Davidson's views on the evidence available to the interpreter are examined and found to rest on doubtful behaviouristic arguments originating from Quine. The behaviouristic view of the evidence is rejected, and a broader and more open-minded construal of the available evidence is sketched and defended. It is argued, following this reassessment of the available evidence, that Davidson's methodology should be relaxed in the following way. Where the extra evidence is not neutral with regard to the contributions of meaning and belief to a speaker's utterances, the interpreter need not employ a Principle of Charity. The interpreter should enlist hypothetical, rather than aprioristic, maxims subject to constant empirical tests.

Type: Thesis (Masters)
Title: Donald Davidson's principle of charity.
Identifier: PQ ETD:593886
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by Proquest
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1446359
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