Donald Davidson

Donald
Davidson
1917
2003

American Philosopher and Professor

Author Quotes

Nothing in the world, no object or event, would be true or false if there were not thinking creatures.

Terminological infelicities have a way of breeding conceptual confusion.

There are three basic problems: how a mind can know the world of nature, how it is possible for one mind to know another, and how it is possible to know the contents of our own minds without resort to observation or evidence. It is a mistake, I shall urge, to suppose that these questions can be collapsed into two, or taken into isolation.

Even if someone knew the entire physical history of the world, and every mental event were identical with a physical, it would not follow that he could predict or explain a single mental event (so described, of course.)

The first principle asserts that at least some mental events interact causally with physical events... The second principle is that where there is causality, there must be a law: events related as cause and effect fall under strict deterministic laws... The third principle is that there are no strict deterministic laws on the basis of which mental events can be predicted and explained... from the fact that there can be no strict psychophysical laws, and without our other two principles, we can infer the truth of a version of the identity theory, that is, a theory that identifies at least some mental events with physical events.

False beliefs tend to undermine the identification of the subject matter; to undermine, therefore, the validity of a description of the belief as being about that subject... The more things a believer is right about, the sharper his errors are. To much mistake simply blurs the focus.

Beliefs, desires, and intentions are a condition of language, but language is also a condition for them. On the other hand, being able to attribute beliefs and desires to a creature is certainly a condition of sharing a convention with that creature; while, if I am right... convention is not a condition of language. I suggest, then, that philosopher who make convention a necessary element in language have the matter backwards. The truth is rather that language is a condition for having conventions.

Author Picture
First Name
Donald
Last Name
Davidson
Birth Date
1917
Death Date
2003
Bio

American Philosopher and Professor