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Are we lovers of the good?
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Philosophy, Ethics and Social Philosophy.
2004 (English)In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 138, no 2, 247-260 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Donald Davidson has stressed that we interpret a person correctly only if we represent him as satisfying certain norms of rationality. Some of these norms are "norms of coherence". A competent interpreter will find that the speaker has beliefs that are, by and large, consistent, and preferences that satisfy certain ordering conditions. However, other norms are "norms of correspondence". Thus, we must also, according to Davidson, assume that the speaker has beliefs that are, by and large, correct (by our lights), and desires that we, by and large, share. In this paper, I focus on the latter of these claims. I argue that, although Davidson may have made a case for the idea that we must assume that a speaker shares many of our beliefs, there is no justification for thinking that the same holds for our desires. Indeed, nothing Davidson says gives us reason to doubt that we are able to interpret a speaker without making any prior assumptions whatsoever about his particular desires. This conclusion points to a crucial asymmetry between beliefs and desires.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Dordrecht: Springer , 2004. Vol. 138, no 2, 247-260 p.
Keyword [en]
Donald Davidson, Belief attribution, Principle of charity, Coherence constraints
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Research subject
Practical Philosophy
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-99482OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-99482DiVA: diva2:207984
Available from: 2009-03-14 Created: 2009-03-14 Last updated: 2010-11-25Bibliographically approved

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