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The Science of MeaningEssays on the Metatheory of Natural Language Semantics$
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Derek Ball and Brian Rabern

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198739548

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198739548.001.0001

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Interpretation and the Interpreter

Interpretation and the Interpreter

On the Role of the Interpreter in Davidsonian Foundational Semantics

Chapter:
(p.226) 8 Interpretation and the Interpreter
Source:
The Science of Meaning
Author(s):

Kathrin Glüer

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198739548.003.0008

According to Donald Davidson, “what a fully informed interpreter could learn about what a speaker means is all there is to learn; the same goes for what the speaker believes” (Davidson 1983). This is a foundational claim about the nature of semantic properties: these are evidence-constituted properties. They are determined by the principle of charity on the basis of data about the behaviour of the speaker(s). But what exactly is the role of the interpreter in the Davidsonian account of meaning determination? Is she merely a dramatic device or an essential element of the metaphysical picture? This chapter investigates whether David Lewis’s (1983) distinction between natural and unnatural properties can help in answering these questions.

Keywords:   Donald Davidson, David Lewis, radical interpretation, meaning determination, foundational semantics, natural properties, principle of charity, interpretivism

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