Animal Thought And Talk.6


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Presented at final meeting of Quine-Davidson Graduate course

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Animal Thought And Talk.6

  1. 1. Davidson on Animal Thought <ul><li>Ralph Jenkins </li></ul><ul><li>Jenna Schaal-O'Connor </li></ul>
  2. 2. Davidson on Animal Thought
  3. 3. Animal Thought <ul><li>Questions that frame the topic </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Motivating Question: Davidson has a unified theory: what does the theory entail about animal thought? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Framing Questions (to be kept in back of head): </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Is there good reason to think Davidson's wrong? Internal problems? Failures of other parts of the theory? Independent evidence? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>If right, does Davidson's theory imply anything important about thought? Does it support an apartness thesis? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Do language-users (especially demonstrated language users,, i.e., mature, intact, fully cultured humans) have a special mental or cognitive property? </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Is that property ethically relevant, important? Say, nonhuman animals have only animal thought, and so... </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Thought and Talk <ul><li>Davidson’s thesis: Speech and thought are two elements of the same picture, one can't be identified without the other. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The entire project of interpretation is anchored in public availability – and attributing beliefs and intentions (alongside meanings) is a required part of interpretation. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>So, we should expect attribution of beliefs and intentions to have something to do with public availability – i.e., something to do with language. </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><ul><li>The dependence of speech on thought is obvious to Davidson. What needs to be shown is the converse - that thought relies on speech. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Davidson attempts to illuminate features of the concept of thought with suggestive discussion about one project and an argument from another: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>1. Teleological explanation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>2. Radical Interpretation </li></ul></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Assumptions <ul><li>Davidson opens with a couple assumptions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Speaking is expressing thought </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Intentions and beliefs are required for speaking - i.e., their absence is sufficient to show the absence of speaking </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>All thoughts crucially involve beliefs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Having the (knowledge, desire, fear…) that p requires the belief that p </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Systems of beliefs identify (or can be used to identify) or “define” thoughts by locating them in logical and epistemic space </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Wondering whether the gun is loaded requires that x believes that the gun is loadable, that it’s a more or less enduring physical object, etc. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Falls out of the nature of interpretation - holism </li></ul></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Thesis Refinery <ul><li>Is the requirement reciprocal? Can there be thought without speech? </li></ul><ul><li>Speech = ? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Verbal utterance </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Language, language competence </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Attributable linguistic content? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Assent-dissent behavior or patterns of attitudes toward sentences (hold-true patterns?)‏ </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A reading of speech involving at least assent-dissent behavior is going to be crucial to Davidson's case. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Given Davidson's procedure of radical interpretation and the influence of Quine on him, it's pretty clear that including assent and dissent as speech is what Davidson has in mind </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Intuitions <ul><li>Of course! - I can think without talking: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Images </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Diagrams </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Finding that someone says what I mean to say </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>It comes naturally to explain animal behavior by appeal to beliefs, reasons, thoughts, shame, etc. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Judging trajectories </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Mathematical intuition‏ </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>We want to avoid anthropocentric mistakes </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Maybe not... - we tend to question whether someone has a clear idea at all if they can’t express it </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Behaviorism - thinking is silently speaking to oneself </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>We want to avoid anthropomorphic mistakes </li></ul></ul></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>The above intuitions seem to run on the assumption that speech or thought takes explanatory or conceptual priority </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Conceptual priority meaning something like (rough) reduction: one can be explained entirely in terms of the other </li></ul></ul><ul><li>That’s false on Davidson's view, so the dependence of thought on speech needs to be shown. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Understanding Thought <ul><li>There are two ways of getting at thought and both require language. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The first, having to do with teleological explanation, requires language to avoid underdetermination where we intuitively and practically judge there to be none. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The second, from radical interpretation, is stronger – purporting to show that language (interpretation) is a requirement for beliefs. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But first, some preliminary concepts. </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Thought attribution, Intuitions, etc. <ul><li>Thoughts are attributed whenever psychological verbs are used in a assertive sentence followed by a sentence (often introduced with a ‘that’) and preceded by the name or description of a creature/system </li></ul><ul><ul><li>X believes, knows, desires, concludes, notices, fears, thinks (that) p </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Some such sentences attribute states </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Belief, knowledge, fear </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Some attribute events or processes </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Noticing, inferring, concluding, proving, coming to believe, know, fear </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Thought Attribution cont'd <ul><li>Semantic opacity is necessarily exhibited by thought attributing sentences </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The truth value of the containing sentence can be altered by substitutions in the contained sentence that do not change the contained sentence’s truth value </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. One Discussion, One Argument <ul><li>Discussion based onTeleological Explanation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In the teleological explanation of behavior, we make distinctions that are highly underdetermined by behavioral evidence without speech behavior </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>X believes p but does not believe p' which is coextensional </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A theory of interpretation that disallowed such attributions would entail a vast and detrimental revision to our explanations of action </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Fine distinctions are lost that we are accustomed to making </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Those fine distinctions seem to make a real difference </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Argument from Radical Interpretation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Beliefs are essential to all kinds of thought, the concept of belief is essential to belief, and the concept of belief only arises in interpretation, so only interpreters can have beliefs, thoughts. </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Proposal <ul><li>Talk about beliefs, thoughts, meanings, reasons (thought attribution) is a natural, familiar mode of explanation - teleological explanation of behavior </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Explanation of behavior by reference to beliefs and desires </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>An organized part of common sense (a la Quine's view of science, though not as organized as physical science)‏ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The intentional stance (if you like that sort of thing)‏ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The theory implicit in this mode of explanation could inform us of the connection between thought and language </li></ul>
  15. 15. Teleological explanation of behavior <ul><li>X raises his arm </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Explained by X's desire to signal a friend and X's belief that signaling a friend can be done by arm-raising </li></ul></ul><ul><li>This kind of explanation is a matter of fitting an action into a pattern of behavior that is made coherent, intelligible, rational by the theory </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The beliefs and desires adduced rationalize the behavior </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Carnap, Hempel on explanation - the explanans secures inference to the explanandum, renders it “to be expected” in some unspecified way </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ If you had that belief and that desire, you would raise your arm, too.” </li></ul></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Teleological Explanation cont’d <ul><li>Evidence evinced in its favor is bound to be more data about the kind of event being explained </li></ul><ul><ul><li>We tease out what X wants by figuring out what X tends to prefer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Making a pattern of behavior intelligible </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The cat wants the tuna, the cat believes the tuna is on the counter, other considerations (the cat is physically able, etc.) – so the cat is going to jump up there and get it. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>We explain an instance of the cat “jumping up there” by generalizing (or maybe conditionalizing) - saying that that's just what he does when these conditions hold </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>This kind of explanation is only explanatory if the cat tends to “jump up there” in similar situations </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Covering laws/generalizations? </li></ul></ul></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>Methodological Assumption of Rationality </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The beliefs, desires, and actions of a system must cohere (in a natural sense) or fit together rationally (in a natural sense)‏ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Conceptual coherentism - in order to believe that the gun is loaded, X must believe that the gun is loadable, a more or less enduring object, there was a loading event, there was not an unloading event... </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The behavior of a creature or system fits in with our explanation, the explanation gives reasons for the behavior – we assume that there is an explanation for the behavior </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Maybe we assume that we would do the same </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Indeterminacy is always (or at least usually) possible given that the evidential basis is purely behavioral </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Different sets of beliefs and desires can make a given behavior (or set of behaviors) roughly rational (to be expected)‏ </li></ul></ul></ul>
  18. 18. More Telos, More Explanation <ul><li>Interpreting Speech is a part of the teleological explanation of behavior </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A theory of meaning is a finite set of rules or axioms that can generate the meaning of any arbitrary sentence of a language – a theory of truth conditions seems to do the job </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>S (structural description of sentence, utterance of object language) is true iff P (statement of truth conditions in metalanguage)‏ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interpreting requires redescribing certain actions as sayings of P </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interpreters know a truth-theory for a language, they know that the theory is right, and they have access to behavioral evidence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>We could take teleological explanation as a theory that describes preferences toward sentences being true </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. <ul><li>Interpreters know under what conditions utterances are true and that if some are true then others must be as well </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If (A & B) = T, then A = T and B = T </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Logical pattern </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Perhaps as a symptom of parsimony or the preference for simplicity (as ease of use) of theories </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Attributing inconsistent beliefs requires a longer and more complex story relating the beliefs than attributing consistent beliefs does </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A man, with an intense look on his face, pulls at both ends of a string – it's simpler to explain his behavior by attributing the desire to break the string than it is to say he wants to pull the ends in opposite directions – who would want that and why? </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Presumption of rationality “by our lights” </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  20. 20. The Gist <ul><li>The general reason that attribution of thought depends on (interpretation of) speech is that without speech, we cannot make the fine distinctions between thoughts that we normally do make as part of the teleological explanation of behavior </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Semantically opaque attributions are not available without speech behavior </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Without speech behavior, coextensional sentences are indistinguishable </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Attributing conjunctive beliefs? Conditional beliefs? Beliefs with mixed quantifications? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Decision theoretical studies in cases of uncertainty require the use of language </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. <ul><li>There would be less determinacy than there is in attributing thoughts to humans, less determinacy in explanations of action without speech interpretation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>X can believe that i.) “Scott is Scott” without believing ii.) “Scott is the author of Waverly” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>We can tell because she assents to some sentences and not to others. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The dog believes...? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>There's a thing in the tree that it wants </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>There's a cat up the tree </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>There's a member of the species felis familiaris up the tree. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Nothing – there's a more or less specifiable causal chain ending in the behavior </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Which option would be best supported by the behavioral evidence? </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Well, clearly the dog doesn't have the concept of felis familiaris – he's never been in a science class. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>But he's never spoken English either, so on what grounds do we assume that he knows a concept for “cat” </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>It's not opaque – we can only tie the dog's behavior to instances of “cat”, which are always instances of “felis familiaris”. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  22. 22. <ul><li>Think of Carnap's Method in “Meaning and Synonymy in Natural Languages” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>With two sentences that happen to be true of the same things, we can figure out if a creature believes one and not the other by asking it certain kinds of questions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ Is it renate? Is it cordate? Is it possible that it could be one and not the other”? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(!) We would need, among other things, to assume that the creature understands a language (or at least assents or dissents to sentences under some conditions and not under others, and we would need to be able to employ and understand some utterances of the creature's language in order to test for those assents and dissents. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>It seems like we can't get to semantic opacity without some kind of speech behavior. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  23. 23. <ul><li>What it is that someone chooses in a case of decision theory is indeterminate using only behavioral (not including speech behavior – i.e. Hold true attitudes or assent-dissent patterns) evidence. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ralph chooses the pear – what is his preference for? Pears or things on his left or things first noticed? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Perhaps we can make some hypotheses more plausible by altering conditions in the experiment. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Ralph is inactive – does he think the options have identical value, probability? Change conditions, and we can tease out patterns, but it's always more efficient to ask. </li></ul><ul><li>How does Ralph interpret the instructions given to him? </li></ul><ul><li>Decision theory seems to require language in order to resolve some indeterminacies. What else could? </li></ul>
  24. 24. <ul><li>“ What is certain is that all the standard ways of testing theories of decision or preference under uncertainty rely on the use of language.” </li></ul>
  25. 25. <ul><li>This idea seems to be that the concept of thought involves a kind of specificity that is impossible to attribute to languageless animals. </li></ul><ul><li>Davidson regards the aforementioned discussion as a proposal or a suggestion to the effect that we need speech to keep teleological explanation in familiar order – whether it is right (whether it captures something about the concept of thought) to do so is another question. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ These considerations will probably be less persuasive to dog lovers than to others, but in any case they do not constitute an argument. At best what we have shown, or claimed, is that unless there is behavior that can be interpreted as speech, the evidence will not be adequate to justify the fine distinctions wwe are used to making in the attribution of thoughts.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But, keep in mind that we are also very used to attributing rationality to animals on the basis of their phenomenal similarities to humans (the paradigm of rational, belief-having creatures) – Hume keeps this in mind... </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The real argument comes from interpretation primarily </li></ul>
  26. 26. Thesis Refined <ul><li>Only interpreters of the speech of others can have beliefs. </li></ul><ul><li>The argument from interpretation: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Premise 1. Only a language interpreter can have the concept of belief. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Premise 2. Only a behaver that has the concept of belief can have beliefs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conclusion. Only a language interpreter can have beliefs. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>*And getting us to the finish line: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Belief is essential to all kinds of thought – in a qualified way. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>So, only language interpreters (languaged as opposed to languageless creatures) can have any kinds of thought. </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. Radical Interpretation <ul><li>Finite, formal theory that provides truth conditions for all sentences of a language </li></ul><ul><li>Test the theory against conditions under which the sentences of the language are held true </li></ul><ul><li>Interpreters have to balance what speakers hold true and what is true in order to optimize agreement (or something like that – in order to match up to prompting conditions in a way that is mostly right) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ [E]verything we know or believe about the way evidence supports belief can be put to work in deciding where the theory can best allow error, and what errors are least destructive of understanding. The methodology of interpretation is, in this respect, nothing but epistemology seen in the mirror of language.” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The possibility of error is crucial </li></ul>
  28. 28. <ul><li>Objection to the entire project: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The autonomy of meaning is essential for some communicative system to be a full-fledged language. If holding true is our primary source of evidence for what creatures believe, then it seems like we could be fooled by creatures that can only make honest assertions, which would mean that their system of communication had no autonomy of meaning, and so no full-fledged language. </li></ul></ul>
  29. 29. <ul><li>Response: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Autonomy of meaning is crucial to language. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A tool that could only be used for one thing is not meaning autonomous, but a tool that is only used for one thing but may nevertheless be used for others may nevertheless be meaning autonomous. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The hypothetical objector mentioned by Davidson fails to notice that a system of communication that is only used for honest assertion may nevertheless be used for any number of other purposes. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Honest assertion alone might yield a theory of interpretation along Davidson's lines, and this understandable speech behavior might be used for any number of other purposes even if we came up with it to interpret a bizarrely honest tribe. The tribe would have a language, they just wouldn't be using it for all it's worth. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Liars and kidders could be found out. </li></ul></ul>
  30. 30. <ul><li>For speakers of English, an utterance of 'It is raining' by a speaker x at a time t is true iff it is raining near x (– or the rain is a prompting condition for x) at t. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This is an autonomous meaning. If a speaker knows this theory and knows that a hearer knows it, then he can know the meaning of the sentence independent of what purposes it was used for. </li></ul></ul>
  31. 31. Error and Interpretation <ul><li>The crucial character in all of this is the interpreter who must recognize a distinction between holding true and being in fact true for some sentence </li></ul><ul><li>There is bound to be variation between a speaker's holdings true and objective (or at least intersubjective) truth </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ No simple theory can put a speaker and interpreter in perfect agreement, and so a workable theory must from time to time assume error on the part of one or the other. The basic methodological precept is therefore, that a good theory of interpretation maximizes agreement.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Better, optimizes agreement. </li></ul></ul>
  32. 32. <ul><li>The assignment of error is done given all evidence that the interpreter has at his disposal </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The speaker's entire complement of hold true attitudes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Knowledge of the speaker's nature </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Truth theory </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Assuming the (or at least a) Principle of Charity - the speaker is going to have as little error in his beliefs as possible </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Where we locate errors will be in the least damaging places given what is objectively true (by our lights, as interpreters) and what a speaker holds true </li></ul></ul></ul>
  33. 33. <ul><li>Massive Error is ruled out: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It would be possible to generate a theory like Davidson suggests by considering all sentences held true to be true if there is a theory that satisfies the formal constraints (is finite, generates meanings for arbitrary sentences) and all speakers held sentences true only when they were true </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But people have false beliefs (some even lie – both meet the same treatment, presumably)‏ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>An undeniable methodological assumption, an undeniable contingent fact. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some form of the Principle of Charity is discussed in response </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Beliefs are identified by their place within a pattern of beliefs </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>It's tough to even maintain that a belief is about the Earth if it isn't seen in the context of largely true (by the interpreter's lights)beliefs </li></ul></ul></ul>
  34. 34. <ul><li>So a workable theory must recognize some distinction between holding s true and s being in fact true </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ ...the concepts of objective truth, and of error, necessarily emerge in the context of interpretation. The distinction ... is essential to the existence of an interpersonal system of communication, and when in individual cases there is a difference, it must be counted as error. Since the attitude of holding true is the same, whether the sentence is true or not, it corresponds directly to belief.” </li></ul></ul>
  35. 35. <ul><li>Recognizing the distinction is possessing the concept of belief </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Sice the attitude of holding true is the same, whether the sentence is true or not, it corresponds directly to belief.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wherever there is the possibility of error, there is belief – a difference between hold true patterns and the world. </li></ul></ul>
  36. 36. Putting the pieces together <ul><li>1. Beliefs (an endless repertoire or a system) are required to locate or define thoughts. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Strong: If a creature has beliefs, it has what is necessary for all kinds of thought, if not, it lacks what is necessary for any thoughts. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Weak/speculative: If a creature has beliefs, it has what is necessary to have the fullest range of thought. If a creature does not have beliefs, it does have the full range of thought. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>2. Interpretation (workable interpretation that accepts realistic assumptions) requires the recognition of the distinction between objective truth and holding true – if you interpret, you will have to make this distinction. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Interpretation forces it logically on us. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>3. Recognizing the distinction is possessing the concept of belief </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ The concept of belief thus stands ready to take up the slack between objective truth and the held true, and we come to understand it just in this connection.” </li></ul></ul>
  37. 37. <ul><li>4. Possessing the concept of belief is necessary for having any beliefs at all and sufficient for having some beliefs – some beliefs (about beliefs, about what's true) are required to have the concept of belief. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Someone cannot have a belief unless he understands the possibility of being mistaken, and this requires grasping the contrast between truth and error – true belief and false belief.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>5. So, interpretation requires possessing the concept of belief. (2,3)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>6. So, an interpreter has what is necessary for having any beliefs and sufficient for having some beliefs. (4,5)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>7. So, an interpreter has what is necessary for a fully robust complement of thoughts. (1, 6) ‏ </li></ul>
  38. 38. That doesn't seem right... <ul><li>The preceding argument differs from the one outlined at the beginning. In fact, it doesn't seem to support the thesis that Davidson set out to defend. </li></ul>
  39. 39. Lingering Problems, Questions: <ul><li>Inferential problems: what are the connections between the concept of belief and i.) interpretation and ii.) actually having beliefs that Davidson requires for his conclusion to go through? </li></ul>
  40. 40. <ul><ul><li>Concerning i.): If interpretation is only sufficient to “force a mind logically” to have the concept of belief, there is no support for the thesis that languageless animals can’t have belief, as there might be an alternative route to the concept of belief. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Is there anything else that can force a mind logically to have the concept of belief? Why not? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Is there anything other than interpretation that could allow a mind to have the concept of belief? Why not? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>In fact, on Davidson's remarks, the difference between truth and error comes up only as a practically unavoidable fact – it just is the case that language users hold false sentences true sometimes (for whatever reason) – and one might wonder what this could truly illustrate about the concept of thought. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  41. 41. <ul><li>Concerning ii.) If the concept of belief is only sufficient to produce, but not necessary for beliefs, then creatures without the concept might end up with beliefs by an alternative route here as well. Davidson states that the concept of belief is necessary for beliefs, but only ever supports the notion that one must have beliefs in order to have the concept of belief </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>so X's possession of the concept of belief is sufficient for inferring that X has beliefs, but the converse inference is never supported. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  42. 42. <ul><li>The argument thus far only shows that interpreters must have the concept of belief to be successful interpreters and that those with the concept of belief must have beliefs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Assigning error, optimizing agreement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Having beliefs about the interpretee's beliefs, about what's true, about what s means in the metalanguage </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What Davidson needs to show is that a.) only interpreters can have the concept of belief and that b.) only those that possess the concept of belief can have beliefs. </li></ul>
  43. 43. <ul><li>a.) Davidson shifts the onus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>We know, on D's view of radical interpretation, that the concept of belief does arise in the context of interpretation because errors are (practically) inevitable. The challenge is to come up with any other context that generates the concept. He shifts the burden to those that might want to suggest that non-interpreting animals might have come to the concept by another route. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ But this contrast, I have argued, can emerge only in the context of interpretation, which alone forces us to the idea of objective, public truth.” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ We have the idea of belief only from the role of belief in interpretation of a language, for as a private attitude it is not intelligible except as an adjustment to the public norm provided by language.” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>By just asserting that only interpretation forces us to the concept, he shifts the onus. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  44. 44. <ul><li>“ A creature may interact with the world in complex ways without entertaining any propositions. It may discriminate among colors, tastes, sounds, and shapes. It may learn, that is change its behavior, in ways that preserve its life or increase its food intake. It may 'generalize', in the sense of reacting to new stimuli as it has come to react to prior stimuli. Yet none of this, no matter how successful by my standards, shows that the creature commands the contrast between what is believed and what is the case, as required by belief. What would show this contrast? Clearly linguistic communication suffices.” </li></ul><ul><li>It suffices. What else does? </li></ul>
  45. 45. <ul><li>b.) Interpreting some speaker's utterances in a way that attributes truth and error involves having innumerable hold true attitudes about sentences about the speaker's hold true attitudes, which, if viewed by another interpreter, could vary from the truth by her lights. So, having the concept of belief requires having beliefs (about what s means, about what's true, etc.). What Davidson needs to show is that the dependency runs the other way. He says: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Someone cannot have a belief unless he understands the possibility of being mistaken, and this requires grasping the contrast between truth and error – true belief and false belief.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And also: “My claim is rather this: in order to have any propositional attitude at all, it is necessary to have the concept of belief, to have a belief about some belief.” </li></ul></ul>
  46. 46. <ul><li>What does it take to possess the concept of belief (or any concept) or “understand the possibility of being mistaken”? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Having a host of beliefs about beliefs to the extent that they are believed to have properties of accuracy or error? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Beliefs each with a corresponding belief to the effect that the first one is true? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A set of beliefs that contains one belief that attributes truth (or a mostly truth, or a presumption in favor of truth) to the entire set? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>What Davidson needs is for the concept of belief and a bunch of beliefs about beliefs to be interdependent. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It seems like that's what he tries to establish – having beliefs about the fit between beliefs and objective truth is possessing the concept of belief – but these are higher order or meta-beliefs – it seems implausible that having higher order beliefs is necessary for having beliefs at all. What's required to have just object-beliefs? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The difference between holding true and truth? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why require that a believer have higher order beliefs about lower order beliefs in order to have beliefs at all? </li></ul></ul>
  47. 47. <ul><li>Malcom, Weiss, and a Surprised Dog: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Malcolm sides with Davidson on the relation between believing and having the concept of belief. Weiss objects with a story about a dog that exhibits surprise at its own internal states – that would be a good sign of having beliefs. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Surprise at some change of belief (finding out I didn't have money for the cab) requires that I had some belief about the truth of the prior belief. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ I have 20 dollars” gives way to “I have 6 dollars” on inspection of my wallet contents. The new fact is not surprising (as opposed to alarming) by itself – can it be? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Surprise as a reaction to being wrong (?)‏ </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ What I do want to claim is that one cannot have a general stock of beliefs of the sort necessary for having any beliefs at all without being subject to surprises that involve beliefs about the correctness of one's own beliefs.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>So, in order to be surprised, one must have the concept of belief (recognition of the difference between beliefs and truth or possession of beliefs about the truth and falsity of beliefs), and the only thing compelling about Weiss' example is that the dog does exhibits surprise (and/or other attitudes about its own beliefs), so it seems it's got the concept of belief. </li></ul></ul>
  48. 48. <ul><li>If you have beliefs about your own beliefs, then surely you have the concept of belief. That much is shown (or plausible up to this point). </li></ul><ul><li>This does not support the thesis that having (mere) object-beliefs requires having the concept of belief, and that is required for Davidson's arguments to go through. In fact, it seems impossible that we could have beliefs about beliefs before we could have beliefs at all without already assuming that we are interpreting others' beliefs. If the concept of beliefs actually breaks down into higher order beliefs, belief seems impossible. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ [I]n order to have any propositional attitude at all, it is necessary to have the concept of a belief, to have a belief about some belief.” </li></ul></ul>
  49. 49. <ul><li>There are two plausible in-roads to Davidson's conclusion that involve meeting his challenges: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Showing that something other than interpretation could produce the concept of belief </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rejecting the idea that beliefs require the concept of belief </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Perhaps by showing that there is some independent evidence for animal beliefs, independent of evidence for higher order beliefs </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>There are more inroads, but they take a little bit of unpacking. </li></ul></ul>
  50. 50. Other places where objections can be injected: <ul><li>Radical Interpretation is crucial to Davidson’s thesis - what if radical interpretation is impossible? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If there are no genuine interpreters, then there are no genuine thinkers. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What if belief is not essential to all forms of thought? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Then, if all else is right in Davidson's case, then languageless animals might still have thoughts and, though humans might have beliefs and beliefs about beliefs, they might not have certain kinds of thought </li></ul></ul><ul><li>If Davidson is right, so what? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is an apartness thesis supported? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are there ethical ramifications? </li></ul></ul>
  51. 51. Drafting a solution: <ul><li>Could we prune Davidson's case? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If we assume that radical interpretation is possible, then the other objections can come out however they may. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>We can accept that there may be no dependency on the concept of belief for having beliefs, because it's plausible that the ability to be mistaken (rather than the ability to understand or believe that one is mistaken) is enough to attribute beliefs (belief being the connection between holding true and the truth). A creature's holding true patterns still vary from the truth in specifiable ways (if it has hold true attitudes at all), regardless of whether or not it recognizes that its holding true patterns do so. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>There's nothing in the procedure of radical interpretation that requires that the subject of interpretation notice the possibility of error – we can know what a creature's utterances mean and we can attribute beliefs without having to attribute higher order beliefs? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Speaker's attitude toward the truth of sentence p = fundamental evidence in radical interpretation of the speaker in relation to p; object-belief </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Speaker's attitude toward a sentence q about the speaker's attitude toward a sentence p = fundamental evidence in relation to q = meta-belief </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  52. 52. <ul><ul><li>Creatures with speech behavior that at least includes holding some sentences as true or false (including interpreters of language) will have more determinacy than those without in the states that we can attribute to them while performing the task of teleological explanation. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>If we can attribute beliefs as holding attitudes toward sentences, then we gain all of the illumination of logical and theoretical relations between sentences, and where those are good explainers/predictors of action, teleological explanation has a swift and efficient procedure for eliminating a huge number of candidate explanations. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>If radical interpretation works, then we should be able to interpret such creatures pretty fully. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Semantic opacity – a manifest property of human thought hat the states of languageless animals cannot possess (or at least, that is underdetermined by any evidence we can gather about them) – is intelligible. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  53. 53. <ul><ul><li>Interpreters of speech, because they must have the concept of belief (and thus beliefs about beliefs), also have the ability to understand the possibility of being mistaken, and so may apply that concept to their own beliefs, and may take to correction or rational discourse in ways that other creatures can't (if they're not interpretation machines that are incapable of self-reflection, right?). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>These creatures can have epistemological discourse, rational debate, etc. It isn't shown that they must, but they have at least one crucial (necessary?) element. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>You can't prove to a dog that it was wrong, unless it can have beliefs about beliefs. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Imagine a person had no beliefs about his/her/its own beliefs – it seems like something crucial for reasoning with this person is missing. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  54. 54. - On the above suggestions, an apartness thesis could plausibly be supported. 1. Being a language interpreter is sufficient for higher order beliefs and prima facie unique as sufficient source 2. Higher order beliefs are necessary for rationality (-in terms of reasoned, and/or epistemological discourse)‏ 3. Rationality (in said terms) crucially distinguishes x from y ethically, pragmatically, metaphysically... - Isn't this where half of the hard work of an apartness thesis always is anyway? 4. Mature, intact, fully equipped humans are prima facie unique interpreters of language. 5. So, mature, intact, fully equipped humans uniquely possess the necessary conditions of rationality. 6. ...
  55. 55. <ul><li>All of the above only requires the relations between belief and interpretation (interpretation -> concept of belief -> belief)‏ that have had a stronger showing here than what Davidson needed </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Belief doesn't have to be crucial to all kinds of thought, it can play a number of privileged roles without that </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Languageless creatures may have beliefs, but not the higher order beliefs necessary for rationality or the kinds of epistemic discourse we normally and perhaps crucially rely on – Think Law and Order. </li></ul></ul></ul>