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Appropriateness of a cognitive approach to Donald Davidson's meaning theory

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2008
Ağoğlu, Eser
The purpose of this study is to discuss the appropriateness of a cognitive approach to Donald Davidson's meaning theory. Davidson makes the bold proposal that a truth theory, modified for a natural language, may be treated as a meaning theory for that language. According to Davidson, a meaning theory is an empirical theory. Radical Interpretation is at the center of such an empirical inquiry which places restrictions on the truth theory to make it suitable as a meaning theory without appeal to semantic notions. Davidson‘s aim in presenting this bold proposal and radical interpretation is to shed light on the concept of meaning, not to define the actual semantic competence of language users. But what Davidson‘s project does not aim to define is the main thing that a cognitive approach must account for. Whether a truth theory can represent the semantic competence of language users is discussed in this work. It is concluded that, although there is no a priori reason for such a representation claim, the cognitive approach—with the right assumptions to make the claim testable—can lead to an empirical research programme.