[hist-analytic] Davidson's 'Under a description' Trick

Danny Frederick danny.frederick at tiscali.co.uk
Sat Jan 31 13:51:17 EST 2009

Hi Steve,



<<if I cannot describe how I move my fingers, then it can never be the case
that I move them intentionally under one description but not another>>



I think there are two errors here. First, 'I perform action x under
description d' does not entail 'I can articulate description d.' There are
all sorts of complex movements that we do intentionally but which are such
that we cannot supply an individuating description of them. I am just moving
my arm in that old familiar way, familiar to me and familiar to onlookers,
though none of us may be articulate enough to be able to put into words what
the movement is. Yet the movement can, in principle, be described, for
example if it is filmed and analysed by people who have a rich enough


Second, in Davidson's example, we do have a description that the agent can
supply, namely, 'I move my fingers in the usual way that I do when I tie my





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