[hist-analytic] Davidson's Hume

steve bayne baynesrb at yahoo.com
Fri May 29 11:02:06 EDT 2009


"'but a lot depends on whether 'the number of planets' is, purely,
referential.'Indeed.  But why should we suppose that it is?"My point is, merely, that there is ambiguity. If we take the description one way, we get one view of its status and another view if read another way. As for the "right" reading that's much like the de dicto/de re situation. Some verbs I can read only one way, transparent; others I can read either way. Here is a description we can read either way and what follows depends on the reading.RegardsSteve


--- On Thu, 5/28/09, Roger Bishop Jones <rbj at rbjones.com> wrote:

From: Roger Bishop Jones <rbj at rbjones.com>
Subject: Re: Davidson's Hume
To: hist-analytic at simplelists.co.uk
Date: Thursday, May 28, 2009, 4:49 PM

On Tuesday 26 May 2009 17:02:35 steve bayne wrote:
>It is useful, perhaps, to compare
>
>'the cause of b  caused b'
>
>with
>
>'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"
>
>'9>8',
>
>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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