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Truth, Language, and HistoryPhilosophical Essays Volume 5$
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Donald Davidson

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780198237570

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2005

DOI: 10.1093/019823757X.001.0001

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Method and Metaphysics

Method and Metaphysics

(p.39) 3 Method and Metaphysics
Truth, Language, and History

Donald Davidson

Oxford University Press

This essay argues that semantics provides a method for metaphysics. If we have the semantics of a language right, the objects that we assign to the expressions of the language must exist. Two problems are explored. The first is the inscrutability of reference, the fact that there is an endless number of ways an interpreter can assign objects to the expressions of an interpretant’s language, all of which do equally well. The second problem is that in describing the semantics and hence the ontology of a language, we must appeal to the entities we think exist, which are just the entities that belong to the ontology of our language.

Keywords:   semantics, metaphysics, language, reference, ontology, Quine

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