[hist-analytic] Davidson's Hume

Roger Bishop Jones rbj at rbjones.com
Thu May 28 16:49:23 EDT 2009

On Tuesday 26 May 2009 17:02:35 steve bayne wrote:
>It is useful, perhaps, to compare
>'the cause of b  caused b'
>'the number of planets is greater than eight'
>As long as 'the number of planets' is purely referential then if there is
>analyticity, it could be argued that this is an example, since it "means"
>but a lot depends on whether 'the number of planets' is, purely,
> referential.

Indeed.  But why should we suppose that it is?

> Similarly, we need to know if in the first sentence 'the cause
> of b' is, purely, referential. If it is, then it looks like it might be
> analytic; but the existence of a cause, unlike, the number nine is not a
> matter of necessity, waving endless debate on 'necessary''; There is,
> however, another perspective. Isn't Donnellans referential employment of
> definite descriptions a use of a purely referential expression, even though
> they are not proper names? Suppose, just suppose, that we say that it is.
> Still, it is a contingent fact, I believe, that what caused b, the cause of
> b, might not have been the cause of b - imagine other world cases of
> preemption (Lewis) for example. In other words, I believe there is a
> reading of 'the cause of b caused b' which is not such as to make it a
> necessary truth. Here we connect descriptions logically, without connecting
> events. This tug of war between descriptions and events is at the heart of
> Davidson's support of Hume.

I obviously got the wrong end of the stick, because I thought
that Davidson was using the alleged necessity of
"the cause of b caused b" to mount an attack on Hume.

Roger Jones

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