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

steve bayne baynesrb at yahoo.com
Sat Jan 31 15:03:19 EST 2009


I think there are two errors here. First, ‘I perform action x under description d’ does not entail ‘I can articulate description d.’ 

If you cannot articulate the description, how do you know it exists? Faith won't do.
 

"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 shoelaces.’"

Problem with this is that it is describes any one of a number of actions.  Notice that you have conveniently (?) altered the description, substituting 'the usual way' for 'in just the way *required*', So by altering Davidson's position you move to a different issue. Moreover, consider the case of untying a knot in the dark, a knot unfamiliar to you. Here there is no usual way. The same problem surfaces again. So I don't think I made any mistakes. It pays to read Davidson VERY closely!


Regards

Steve

--- On Sat, 1/31/09, Danny Frederick <danny.frederick at tiscali.co.uk> wrote:
From: Danny Frederick <danny.frederick at tiscali.co.uk>
Subject: RE: Davidson's 'Under a description' Trick
To: hist-analytic at simplelists.com
Cc: baynesrb at yahoo.com
Date: Saturday, January 31, 2009, 1:51 PM




 
 






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 vocabulary. 

   

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 shoelaces.’ 

   

Cheers. 

   

Danny 



 

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