Subjective, Intersubjective, Objective

Subjective, Intersubjective, Objective

Subjective, Intersubjective, Objective

Subjective, Intersubjective, Objective

Synopsis

Subjective, Intersubjective, Objective is the long-awaited third volume of philosophical writings by Donald Davidson, whose influence on philosophy since the 1960s has been deep and broad. His first two collections, published by OUP in the early 1980s, are recognized as contemporary classics. Now Davidson presents a selection of his work on knowledge, mind, and language from the 1980s and the 1990s. We all have knowledge of our own minds, knowledge of the contents of other minds, and knowledge of the shared environment. Davidson examines the nature and status of each of these threesorts of knowledge, and the connections and differences among them. Along the way he has illuminating things to say about truth, human rationality, and the relations among language, thought, and the world. This new volume offers a rich and rewarding feast for anyone interested in philosophy today, and is essential reading for anyone working on its central topics.

Excerpt

The essays in this book are concerned with three sorts of propositional knowledge and the relations among them. We all have knowledge of our own minds, knowledge of the contents of other minds, and knowledge of the shared environment. The subsections of the book are titled Subjective, Intersubjective, and Objective. The words track real differences. First person knowledge is distinguished by the fact that we can legitimately claim a unique sort of authority with respect to what we believe, want, intend, and some other attitudes. Second person knowledge and knowledge of the rest of the world of nature do not have this authority, but they differ from each other in that our knowledge of other minds is normative in a way the latter is not. All three varieties of knowledge are, however, objective in the sense that their truth is independent of their being believed to be true. This is obvious in the second two cases, but it holds even in the case of beliefs about our own beliefs and other attitudes: such beliefs can be wrong. All our knowledge is also objective in the sense that it could for the most part be expressed by concepts which have a place in a publically shared scheme of things.

Essay 1, 'First Person Authority', asks what explains the presumption that a speaker is right when he sincerely attributes a belief, desire, or intention to his present self, while no such presumption is appropriate when others make similar attributions to him. It is argued that 'solutions' to the problem of other minds which merely restate the asymmetry leave the field open to the sceptic. A new explanation of first person authority is offered which traces the source of the authority to a necessary feature of the interpretation of speech.

Essay 2, 'Knowing One's Own Mind', takes up an apparent difficulty about first person authority: how can we reconcile the fact that

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