Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Deontic scorekeeping and interpretation

Brandom fleshes out the idea of interpretation as an interplay between de dicto and de re attitude ascriptions. He thinks that you can attribute a dictum to someone as an entry into the conversation. You can say "What did he do?", in response to "I'm mad at him," as your first move in a conversation to which you came late and in which you do not know who 'he' refers to. You understand what is said when you can move from the de dicto ascription "X said that he is mad at him" to the de re ascription "X said of Y that he is mad at him." This can be done even if X wouldn't put it that way. Navigating between the ascriptions that you would make as a deontic score-keeper and the ascriptions that the speaker would accept allows the score-keepers to find the differences in premises that are accepted by the various parties involved. Being able to switch from a de dicto ascription to a de re ascription is interpretation because the de re interpretation is put in your own words, that is, it need not be in words that the ascribee would accept.

How does this differ from Davidson's (radical) interpretation? Score-keepers don't seem to be constructing a theory. They are just keeping track of commitments and entitlements and they are not trying to match up sentences with values and holds-true atttitudes. This isn't quite right however because the holds-true attitudes are fleshed out in Brandom's account as acknowledgment of commitments. The holds-true attitudes are in there, in a form, so this might not be the point at which the two theories differ.

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