From Radical Translation to Radical Interpretation and back

António Zilhão


Both Quine and Davidson put forth programs of empirical semantics satisfy-ing the conditions that characterize the so-called “standpoint of interpreta-tion.” Quine’s less ambitious program of radical translation rests upon two buttresses: causality and empathy. Davidson’s more ambitious program of radical interpretation replaces causality with truth and empathy with ration-ality. Although the replacement of causality with intersubjective truth seems to me to be a fully justified move, I nevertheless contend that it is more real-istic to develop the work of interpretation drawing upon Quine’s less ambi-tious requirement of empathy than upon Davidson’s view of human agency as rational agency. In order to substantiate this contention, I present an ar-gument to the effect that Davidson’s characterization of human agency as rational is not compatible with his other requirement that truth should pro-vide the essential link connecting speech with environment and action.


Copyright (c)

Principia: an internationnal journal of epistemology
Published by NEL - Epistemology and Logic Research Group
Federal University of Santa Catarina - UFSC
Center of Philosophy and Human Sciences – CFH
Campus Reitor João David Ferreira Lima
Florianópolis, Santa Catarina - Brazil
CEP: 88040-900

 ISSN: 1414-4217
EISSN: 1808-171