Donald Davidson: Meaning, Truth, Language, and Reality

Ernie Lepore, Kirk Ludwig

Research output: Book/ReportBook

152 Scopus citations


Donald Davidson (1917-2003) was one of the most important philosophers of the late twentieth century. This book provides a systematic exposition and clarification of his work in the philosophy of language and the theory of meaning, and of his contributions to the philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and epistemology that spring from it. In addition, it offers a critical assessment of Davidson's program. The book is divided into three parts. The first part provides an historical introduction to Davidson's program of truth-theoretic semantics and defends it against a variety of criticisms. The second part examines the foundations and prospects for the project of radical interpretation, including the grounding of the Principle of Charity, the indeterminacy of interpretation, and the reality of language. The third part examines a number of important conclusions that Davidson has argued for on the basis of reflection on the project of radical interpretation, including the impossibility of alternative conceptual schemes, the impossibility of massive error, the nature and grounding of first person authority, the inscrutability of reference, and the necessity of language for thought. The book argues for the soundness of the truth-theoretic approach to the theory of meaning, but argues that the project of radical interpretation fails, and that most of Davidson's most important theses based on it cannot be adequately supported.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages464
ISBN (Electronic)9780191602634
ISBN (Print)0199251347, 9780199251346
StatePublished - Mar 3 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


  • Compositionality
  • Conceptual schemes
  • Donald Davidson
  • Indeterminacy
  • Knowledge
  • Language
  • Meaning
  • Principle of Charity
  • Radical interpretation
  • Truth-theoretic semantics


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