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Donald Davidson: Philosophy of Language Hardcover – January 8, 1991

ISBN-13: 978-0631164586 ISBN-10: 0631164588 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

This book is an introduction to and interpretation of the philosophy of language devised by Donald Davidson over the past 25 years. The guiding intuition is that Davidson's work is best understood as an ongoing attempt to purge semantics of theoretical reifications. Seen in this light the recent attack on the notion of language itself emerges as a natural development of his Quinian scepticism towards "meanings" and his rejections of reference-based semantic theories.

Linguistic understanding is, for Davidson, essentially dynamic, arising only through a continuous process of theory construction and reconstruction. The result is a conception of semantics in which the notion of interpretation and not the notion of knowing a language is fundamental.

In the course of his book Bjorn Ramberg provides a critical discussion of reference-based semantic theories, challenging the standard accounts of the principle of charity and elucidating the notion of radical interpretation. The final chapter on incommensurability ties in with the discussions of Kuhn's work in the philosophy of science and suggests certain links between Davidson's analytic semantics and hermeneutic theory.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (January 8, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631164588
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631164586
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.7 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,856,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By James Hill on July 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book is, in my opinion, a minor classic which should be read by anyone interested in Davidson's work. Ramberg's exposition, though quite brief, repays close reading and is particularly useful for those who wish to situate Davidson's thought relative to continental or historical figures (another which is useful in this regard is Jeff Malpas' text, which has unfortunately gone out of print). In particular, Ramberg's discussion of incommensurability, and the effort to distinguish Davidson's position both from 'linguistic Kantianism' and relativism, help to show what is original about his philosophy, and to correct various misinterpretations thereof.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is the best summation and extension (get it?...) of Davidson out there. It is also a critical appraisal. It links Davidson to larger themes in the sceinces, especially those that understand learning to emerge at the intersection of biology and social structure. Language is crucial to an understanding of that emergence, and there is no better take on the whole set of nested issues than Davidson's semantics. Ramberg's writing is clear and concise. This book is a major contribution and should be treated as such.
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