Kripke’s Wittgenstein’s Sceptical Paradox: A Trilemma for Davidson

In: International Journal for the Study of Skepticism
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  • 1 Institute for Research in Fundamental Sciences (IPM)

Davidson’s later philosophy of language has been inspired by Wittgenstein’s Investigations, but Davidson by no means sympathizes with the sceptical problem and solution Kripke attributes to Wittgenstein. Davidson criticizes the sceptical argument for relying on the rule-following conception of meaning, which is, for him, a highly problematic view. He also casts doubt on the plausibility of the sceptical solution as unjustifiably bringing in shared practices of a speech community. According to Davidson, it is rather success in mutual interpretation that explains success in the practice of meaning something by an utterance. I will argue that Davidson’s objections to the sceptical problem and solution are misplaced as they rely on a misconstrual of Kripke’s Wittgenstein’s view. I will also argue that Davidson’s alternative solution to the sceptical problem is implausible, since it fails to block the route to the sceptical problem. I will then offer a problematic trilemma for Davidson.

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