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Title: Davidson's truth conditions theory and scientific realism
Author: Taylor, Neil
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 1985
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How does language refer to objective reality and relate to speakers? Davidson's truth-conditions theory provides a method of interpretation and, notwithstanding difficulties in relating artificial languages to natural languages, articulates the true structure of all of natural language whilst simultaneously furnishing a theory of logical form. But how does language refer to the world. Davidson's scientific realism abandons any assumed foundational basis in extra-linguistic reality; hence, reference to facts is otiose. Only via the truth-conditions structure of language can the true structure of reality be described. From within language, reality is reconstructed as extensional reference to simultaneously-postulated entities. Yet reference to Davidson's abstracta and the internal causal structure of such events is problematic. Nevertheless, in languages of normal expressive-power, we must refer- even if it proves possible to eliminate an unwanted ontology. Convention (t), however, allows scope for alternative theories discriminating reality. Reference to objective reality being a linguistic action, cognizance must be taken of background features of a speaker's psychological reality guiding and constraining such use. Any foundational basis is again rejected:Davidson's analysis of 'A believes that p' (etc.) abjures reference to Fregean propositions (or to sentences). Furthermore, extra-linguistic Gricean intentions are unacceptable. Only via true, structured, elements of language can the true, structured intensional and intentional elements be described. Thus,beliefs (etc. ) are analyzed within the extensional metalanguage. But Davidson's extensional reconstruction of postulated attitudes, and also reference to 'reasons' as causes, are contentious. Still, it is argued, we must refer to such independent 'reasons', despite shortcomings in Davidson's account. Hence, reference to objective reality and the background attitudes of speakers are all reconstructed within the truth-conditions structure of language as theoretical postulations. Reality is immanent within language, but,crucially, the disclosures of its structured network of interpretants must refer to the structured, true being of a reality beyond itself.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available