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

In: International Journal for the Study of Skepticism

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.

  • Aune B. 2012. “On Davidson’s View of First-Person Authority.” In Preyer G. (ed.) Donald Davidson on Truth Meaning and the Mental214227. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Baker G.P. and Hacker P.M.S. 1984. Scepticism Rules and Language . Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

  • Boghossian P. 1989. “The Rule-Following ConsiderationsMind 98 (392): 507549.

  • Byrne A. 1996. “On Misinterpreting Kripke’s WittgensteinPhilosophy and Phenomenological Research 56 (2): 339343.

  • Child W. 2007. “Davidson on First Person Authority and Knowledge of MeaningNoûs 41 (2): 157177.

  • Child W. 2013. “Davidson on First-Person Authority.” In Lepore E. and Ludwig K. (eds.) A Companion to Donald Davidson533549. Malden, MA : Wiley-Blackwell.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Child W. 2017. “Wittgenstein and Davidson on First-Person Authority and the Univocality of Mental Term.” In Verheggen C. (ed.) Wittgenstein and Davidson on Thought Language and Action186204. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davidson D. 1970. “Mental Events.” In Foster L. and Swanson J. (eds.) Experience and Theory 79–102. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press. Reprinted in Davidson 2001b207224 to which page references apply.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davidson D. 1973. “Radical InterpretationDialectica 27: 31428.

  • Davidson D. 1974a. “Comments and Replies.” In Brown S.C. (ed.) Philosophy of Psychology . London: Macmillan. Reprinted in Davidson 2001b239244 to which page references apply.

    • Export Citation
  • Davidson D. 1974b. “Psychology as Philosophy.” In Brown S.C. (ed.) Philosophy of Psychology 41–52. London: Macmillan. Reprinted in Davidson 2001b229238 to which page references apply.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davidson D. 1977. “Reality without ReferenceDialectica 31: 247258.

  • Davidson D. 1978. “Intending.” In Yovel Y. (ed.) Philosophy of History and Action4160. Dordretch: Reidel and the Magnes Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davidson D. 1982. “Rational AnimalsDialectica 36: 317328.

  • Davidson D. 1984a. “First Person AuthorityDialectica 38: 101112.

  • Davidson D. 1984b. “Communication and ConventionSynthese 59: 317.

  • Davidson D. 1986. “A Nice Derangement of Epitaphs.” In Lepore E. (ed.) Truth and Interpretation: Perspectives on the Philosophy of Donald Davidson433446. Cambridge: Blackwell.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davidson D. 1987. “Knowing One’s Own MindProceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 60 (3): 441458.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davidson D. 1988. “The Myth of the Subjective.” In Benedikt M. and Berger R. (eds.) Bewusstsein Sprache und die Kunst. Reprinted in Davidson 2001a3952 to which page references apply.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davidson D. 1991a. “Three Varieties of Knowledge.” In A.P. Griffiths (ed.) A. J. Ayer: Memorial Essays15366. New York: Cambridge University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davidson D. 1991b. “James Joyce and Humpty DumptyMidwest Studies in Philosophy 16: 112.

  • Davidson D. 1992. “The Second PersonMidwest Studies in Philosophy 17: 255–67. Reprinted in Davidson 2001a107122 to which page references apply.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davidson D. 1993. “Locating Literary Language.” In Dasenbrock R.W. (ed.) Literary Theory after Davidson 295–308. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press. Reprinted in Davidson 2005 167181 to which page references apply.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davidson D. 1994. “The Social Aspect of Language.” In McGuinness B. (ed.) The Philosophy of Michael Dummett116. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davidson D. 1997a. “Seeing through Language.” In Preston J. (ed.) Thought and Language1528. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davidson D. 1997b. “Indeterminism and Antirealism.” In Kulp C.B. (ed.) Realism/Antirealism and Epistemology109122. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davidson D. 1998. “The Irreducibility of the Concept of the Self.” In Stamm M. (ed.) Philosophie in Synthetisher Absicht 123–30. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta. Reprinted in Davidson 2001a8592 to which page references apply.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davidson D. 1999a. “The Emergence of ThoughtErkenntnis 51 (1): 717.

  • Davidson D. 1999b. “Reply to Richard Rorty.” In Hahn L.E. (ed.) The Philosophy of Donald Davidson595600. Illinois: Open Court.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davidson D. 2000. “Objectivity and Practical Reason.” In Ullmann-Margalit E. (ed.) Reasoning Practically1726. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davidson D. 2001a. Subjective Intersubjective Objective . Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  • Davidson D. 2001b. Essays on Actions and Events . Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  • Davidson D. 2001c. “Externalisms.” In Pagin P. et al. (eds.) Interpreting Davidson116. Stanford: CSLI .

  • Davidson D. 2005. Truth Language and History. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  • Glüer K. 2006. “Triangulation.” In Lepore E. and Smith B. (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language10061019. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Glüer K. 2011. Donald Davidson: A Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Hacker P.M.S. 1997. “Davidson on First-Person AuthorityThe Philosophical Quarterly 47: 285304.

  • Hattiangadi A. 2007. Oughts and Thoughts: Rule-Following and the Normativity of Content. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Kripke S. 1982. Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language . Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

  • Kusch M. 2006. A Sceptical Guide to Meaning and Rules: A Defence of Kripke’s Wittgenstein. Chesham: Acumen.

  • Ludwig K. and Lepore L. 2005. Donald Davidson: Meaning Truth Language and Reality . Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • McDowell J. 1984. “Wittgenstein on Following a RuleSynthese 58 (3): 325363.

  • McDowell J. 1993. “Meaning and Intentionality in Wittgenstein’s Later PhilosophyMidwest Studies in Philosophy 17 (1): 4052.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McGinn C. 1984. Wittgenstein on Meaning: An Interpretation and Evaluation. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

  • Miller A. 2010. “Kripke’s Wittgenstein, Factualism and Meaning.” In Whiting D. (ed.) The Later Wittgenstein on Meaning167190. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Miller A. 2017. “Postscript.” In Wright C. et al. (eds.) A Companion to the Philosophy of Language696702. uk: John Wiley.

  • Picardi E. 1993. “First-Person Authority and Radical Interpretation.” In Stoecker R. (ed.) Reflecting Davidson: Donald Davidson Responding to an International Forum of Philosophers 197–209. Berlin: de Gruyter.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Thöle B. 1993. “The Explanation of First Person Authority.” In Stoecker R. (ed.) Reflecting Davidson: Donald Davidson Responding to an International Forum of Philosophers 213–247. Berlin: de Gruyter.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Verheggen C. 1997. “Davidson’s Second PersonThe Philosophical Quarterly 47 (188): 361369.

  • Verheggen C. 2006. “How Social Must Language Be?” Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 36 (2): 203219.

  • Verheggen C. 2007. “Triangulating with DavidsonThe Philosophical Quarterly 57 (226): 96103.

  • Verheggen C. 2017. “Davidson’s Treatment of Wittgenstein’s Rule-Following Paradox.” In Verheggen C. (ed.) Wittgenstein and Davidson on Language Thought and Action97122. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Verheggen C. and Myers R. 2016. Donald Davidson’s Triangulation Argument: A Philosophical Inquiry . London and New York: Routledge.

  • Wilson G. 1994. “Kripke on Wittgenstein and NormativityMidwest Studies in Philosophy 19 (1): 366390.

  • Wilson G. 1998. “Semantic Realism and Kripke’s WittgensteinPhilosophy and Phenomenological Research 58 (1): 99122.

  • Wilson G. 2006. “Rule-Following, Meaning, and Normativity.” In Lepore E. and Smith B.C. (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language151174. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wright C. 1984. “Kripke’s Account of the Argument against Private LanguageThe Journal of Philosophy 81 (12): 759778.

  • Wright C. 1988. “Moral Values, Projection and Secondary QualitiesProceedings of the Aristotelian Society 62: 126.

  • Wright C. 1989. “Critical Notice of Colin McGinn’s Wittgenstein on Meaning Mind 98: 289305.

  • Wright C. 1992. Truth and objectivity . Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

  • Wright C. 2001. Rails to Infinity . Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

  • Zalabardo J. 1989. “Rules, Communities and JudgementsCrítica 21 (63): 3358.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 433 433 14
Full Text Views 24 24 3
PDF Downloads 15 15 1