Talk:Donald Davidson (philosopher)

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Aside from what's there, I just added some stuff on (1) The formal-semantics-for-natural-languages programme (2) the third dogma and Davidson's arument against conceptual relativism; (3) His theory of (radical) interpretation and how it compares to translation as Quine meant it, and its bearing on the indeterminacy thesis; (4) his arguments on the incoherence of skepticism: no correctly ascribed belief-set can be largely false. However Netscape crashed and I lost it. Point is, those are the most important bits to add that are currently missing altogether.

  • Radical interpretation is notably absent and needs thorough discussion. Arguably, it's the idea that Davidson got the most work out of. Perhaps it'd be good to introduce exactly what radical interpretation is, and then discuss how it relates to Davidson's work on language, epistemology, and action. I may get something up soon which could serve as a first attempt at an introduction. ---- Skubicki 01:36, 16 September 2005 (UTC)
    • Ok, I've got a first attempt at an introduction to radical interpretation up. It probably needs revising. If someone else doesn't get to it before I do, then it may be a little while. --- Skubicki 06:31, 16 September 2005 (UTC)
      • Could a couple of sentences on how radical interpretation builds on Quine's radical translation not be mentioned here, just to situate the discussion a bit? For the article in general, would it be worth talking about Davidson's conception of truth; e.g. his arguments against the correspondence theory, his version of coherence theory and his comments about its relationship to Rorty's pragmatist conception? zenpea 06:12, 29 March 2006 (UTC)


Stanford EP ( says that Davidson was married twice, not three times. Who's right? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:01, 25 March 2012 (UTC)

He was married three times. Stanford EP has been corrected, as has this article. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ehasbrouck (talkcontribs) 22:26, 27 February 2015 (UTC)

Clean-up and expansion[edit]

Hi all. I recently went through and tried to clean up a few things and expand a few things. Hope it looks good. The article could use more work. Davidson is a huge figure in philosophy. -- Jaymay 08:21, 4 May 2007 (UTC)

Should add a reference to his work on metaphor. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Xdaseinx (talkcontribs) 20:57, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

Can someone clearly be an analytic philosopher?[edit]

This well-written wiki page begins in error. Davidson told Rorty in this series of discussion: "By your standards, I am a straightforward pragmatist." So, to say he is "clearly an analytic philosopher" undermines his own satisfaction with Rorty's readings of his work. Further, if you take Davidson seriously, no one can clearly be an analytic philosopher any more than someone can clearly have a conceptual scheme! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:37, 9 June 2012 (UTC)

Truth-conditional semantics[edit]

I created a short article on truth-conditional semantics, and also made some edits to the philosophy of language page; the latter I filled in the empty section on Philosophy of language#Davidson and Truth theories, based on the comments in this article. However there are two criticisms of the material from here I corrected:

  • Davidson did not write "Truth and Meaning", he edited it (IIRC, jointly with Garreth Evans). What he wrote was the introduction, where he introduced his truth-conditional semantics.
You are slightly confusing things. Davidson wrote an essay called "Truth and Meaning". He also co-edited, with Gilbert Harman, two volumes devoted to, roughly, that subject matter: The Semantics of Natural Language and The Logic of Grammar (to one or both of which he also contributed, or co-contributed, an introduction). The "Truth and Meaning" paper was, I think, printed in one of those, and was in any case reprinted in Davidson's own Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation. Davidson presented that same material during his Locke lectures at Oxford in 1970, where he inspired several young philosophers to do work in the same vein. Among these were John McDowell and Gareth Evans, and they--McDowell and Evans, not Davidson and Evans--edited a volume called Truth and Meaning, which included at least one paper by Davidson, I forgot which.
  • You're being too kind: I was in fact entirely confusing things: I was right about Evans being an editor of the volume, wrong about Davidson... instead I was thinking of Evans and McDowell's "Truth and Meaning", which is about Davidson's essay, and the introduction is indeed an exposition of Davidson's theory, wityyh the essays being commentary. Nice text, now where on earth did I get the idea that it was (i) where Davidson's theory first appeared, and (ii) was edited by Davidson? Sorry for my erroroneous challenge above ---- Charles Stewart 22:50, 22 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  • This paragraph is flat: I broke up part into two bullet points, and managed to shorten it a bit.

I'm guessing these changes, or something like them, are worth applying here too ---- Charles Stewart 00:31, 19 Aug 2004 (UTC)


I'm shocked that Philebus is a red link. Its certainly an important dialogue. Someone more learned than I should put together an article for it, but I'll try to get it started if no one else steps up to the plate. --Christofurio 13:04, 26 November 2005 (UTC)

Sadly many of the Philosophy articles on Wikipedia need work, and we'd love to have you help out! You should take a look at Wikipedia:WikiProject Philosophy and add your name to the participants list if you want  :). --FranksValli 06:25, 27 November 2005 (UTC)


What are the criteria for inclusion as being influenced by Davidson? The last two names on the list (Ludwig and Lepore) are merely Davidson scholars, which is substantially different from being a genuinely original philosopher who was influenced by Davidson, which is what I take the category actually to be geared towards. If we're going to include people who are admirers of Davidson, or people who have written about his works, we could expand the list of influenced people considerably--but that can't be what it's intended for. I'll leave the deletion to someone else though in case I'm wrong about this. To be fair, the line is hard to draw. (I'd count Rorty as definitely in, Ludwig as definitely out, but it's not clear about all the names in between, e.g., Evans.) 10:15, 14 March 2007 (UTC)

Also, is it really true that Davidson was influenced by Spinoza? There are no references to Spinoza on the page outside of the template box. All I could find elsewhere was one article by Davidson on Spinoza, but one article does not an influence make. (I don't know enough about Davidson to really answer this question, so I'm just posing it here). JustinBlank (talk) 05:40, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

More on metaphor, wholism[edit]

I like the article, but it seemed odd to me not to include what first introduced me to Davidson because it's so widely referenced, his critique of worldviews (and by implication Kuhn's paradigms or Foucault's epistemes) as a "third dogma" of empiricism. The reference of course is to Quine's classic article and thus promises to complete Quine's wholism. Readers on philosophy of language also often include his article on metaphor, which criticizes the idea that the sentence means something literally and something else metaphorically. I'm afraid I don't have the talent or expertise to write the rest of the entry myself. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:03, 29 February 2008 (UTC)

Quotation from 'A Nice Derangement of Epitaphs'[edit]

I am uneasy to see this quotation attached to the radical interpretation paragraph, as they are both two different issues in his philosophy of language. RI refers to how language can be interpreted into an amenable Tarksian theory of truth, whilst the quotation refers to Davidson's mature stance that natural language can not in fact be comprehended through formalised theories. Can we not separate the two?--Vindicta (talk) 20:33, 16 March 2009 (UTC)

If there is no disagreement, I will amend in a few days by creating a new sub-heading "Mature position on Philosophy of Language". However, extra content will be needed to help clarify his later views.--Vindicta (talk) 20:36, 16 March 2009 (UTC)

Thomas Nagel elliptically eulogized him as "deeply erotic"[edit]

Minor complaint but I find myself tripping over the word "elliptically" here. If elliptically means "enigmatically", the reference is probably to Eros as thematized by Plato (in the Phaedrus and the Symposium in particular). If elliptically means "euphemistically" then the author misunderstood Nagel's remark.

I would remove "elliptically" altogether or replace it with something like "alluding to Plato's conception of philosophy". — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:48, 9 November 2012 (UTC)