Ideas from 'Coherence Theory of Truth and Knowledge' by Donald Davidson [1983], by Theme Structure

[found in 'Subjective, Intersubjective, Objective' by Davidson,Donald [OUP 2001,0-19-823753-7]].

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3. Truth / D. Coherence Truth / 1. Coherence Truth
Coherence with a set of propositions suggests we can know the proposition corresponds
                        Full Idea: Davidson argues that the coherence of a set of propositions with a set of beliefs is a good indication that the proposition corresponds to objective facts and that we can know that propositions correspond.
                        From: report of Donald Davidson (Coherence Theory of Truth and Knowledge [1983]) by Keith Donnellan - Putting Humpty Dumpty Together Again 2.2
                        A reaction: Young calls this an 'epistemological route to coherentism'. Davidson is sometimes cited as a fan of the coherence theory of truth, but this just seems to accept Russell's point that coherence is a good test for truth.
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 4. Belief / b. Elements of beliefs
The concepts of belief and truth are linked, since beliefs are meant to fit reality
                        Full Idea: Knowing what a belief is brings with it the concept of objective truth, for the notion of a belief is the notion of a state that may or may not jibe with reality.
                        From: Donald Davidson (Coherence Theory of Truth and Knowledge [1983], p.162)
                        A reaction: I find any discussion of belief that makes no reference to truth (as in Hume) quite puzzling. I can understand it when a belief is just triggered by a sensation ('this is hot'), but not when a belief arrives after careful comparison of reasons.
12. Knowledge Sources / D. Empiricism / 1. Empiricism
Davidson believes experience is non-conceptual, and outside the space of reasons
                        Full Idea: Davidson thinks that experience can be nothing but an extra-conceptual impact on sensibility. So he concludes that experience must be outside the space of reasons.
                        From: report of Donald Davidson (Coherence Theory of Truth and Knowledge [1983], I.6) by John McDowell - Mind and World I
                        A reaction: McDowell's challenge to the view that experience is extra-conceptual seems to be the key debate among modern empiricists. My only intuition in this area is that we should beware of all-or-nothing solutions to such problems.
12. Knowledge Sources / D. Empiricism / 5. Empiricism Critique
Davidson says the world influences us causally; I say it influences us rationally
                        Full Idea: Davidson urges that we should hold that the world exerts a merely causal influence on our thinking, but I am trying to describe a way in which the world exerts a rational influence on our thinking.
                        From: comment on Donald Davidson (Coherence Theory of Truth and Knowledge [1983]) by John McDowell - Mind and World II.5
                        A reaction: McDowell seems to be fighting for the existence of 'pure' reason in a way that is hard to defend with a thoroughly materialist view of human brains. If the world is coherent, then maybe it is rational, and so has reasons to offer us?
13. Knowledge Criteria / A. Justification Problems / 3. Internal or External / a. Pro-internalism
Reasons for beliefs are not the same as evidence
                        Full Idea: We must find a reason for supposing most of our beliefs are true that is not a form of evidence.
                        From: Donald Davidson (Coherence Theory of Truth and Knowledge [1983], p.158)
                        A reaction: This simple observation strikes me as being a key truth in epistemology. It is the same confusion that creates Jackson's Knowledge Argument (Idea 7377) against physicalism (that experiencing red can be thought to be knowledge).
13. Knowledge Criteria / B. Internal Justification / 4. Foundationalism / f. Foundationalism critique
Sensations lack the content to be logical; they cause beliefs, but they cannot justify them
                        Full Idea: The relation between a sensation and a belief cannot be logical, since sensations are not beliefs or propositional attitudes. The relation must be causal. Sensations cause some beliefs, but they do not show why the belief is justified.
                        From: Donald Davidson (Coherence Theory of Truth and Knowledge [1983], p.157)
                        A reaction: This is, I am beginning to think, the single most important idea in the whole of modern epistemology. Animals have beliefs caused in this way, and because they only have simple beliefs about immediate things, most of their beliefs are true.
13. Knowledge Criteria / B. Internal Justification / 5. Coherentism / a. Coherence as justification
Coherent justification says only beliefs can be reasons for holding other beliefs
                        Full Idea: What distinguishes a coherence theory of justification is simply the claim that nothing can count as a reason for holding a belief except another belief.
                        From: Donald Davidson (Coherence Theory of Truth and Knowledge [1983], p.156)
                        A reaction: I think I agree fully with this. Red patches and headaches I count as evidence rather than as reasons. Since a red patch can be hallucinatory, and a headache can be dreamed, they can't possibly embody true propositions without critical evaluation.
13. Knowledge Criteria / D. Scepticism / 6. Scepticism Critique
Skepticism is false because our utterances agree, because they are caused by the same objects
                        Full Idea: What stands in the way of global skepticism of the senses is the fact that we must take the objects of a belief to be the causes of that belief. And our utterances mean the same thing because belief in their truth is caused by the same objects.
                        From: Donald Davidson (Coherence Theory of Truth and Knowledge [1983], p.161)
                        A reaction: This is hardly a knock-down argument against scepticism, but it builds a nice picture. The second half extends the Private Language Argument (e.g. Idea 4158). But I still have non-existent conversations about non-existent things in my dreams.
19. Language / F. Communication / 6. Interpreting Language / c. Principle of charity
Davidson's Cogito: 'I think, therefore I am generally right'
                        Full Idea: Davidson's Cogito has the form 'I think, therefore I am generally right'.
                        From: report of Donald Davidson (Coherence Theory of Truth and Knowledge [1983], 16.6) by Tim Button - The Limits of Reason
                        A reaction: On the whole I would subscribe to this Cogito (as Button calls it), from an evolutionary perspective. There would just be no point in thought if it wasn't generally right in everyday activity.