Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation: Philosophical Essays

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Donald Davidson presents a new edition of the 1984 volume which set out his enormously influential philosophy of language. Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation has been a central point of reference and a focus of controversy in the subject ever since, and its influence has extended into linguistic theory, philosophy of mind, and epistemology. This new edition features an additional essay, previously uncollected. The central question which these essays address is what it is for words to mean what they do. Davidson argues that a philosophically instructive theory of meaning should acknowledge the holistic nature of linguistic understanding, in that it should provide an interpretation of all utterances, actual and potential, of a speaker or group of speakers; and that it should not rely upon the concepts it attempts to explain, in that it should be verifiable independently of knowledge of the detailed propositional attitudes of the speaker. Among the topics covered in the essays are the relation between theories of truth and theories of meaning, translation, quotation, belief, radical interpretation, reference, metaphor, and communication.