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Paper   IPM / Philosophy / 8083
School of Analytic Philosophy
  Title:   Charity, supervenience and skepticism
  Author(s):  H. Vahid
  Status:   Published
  Journal: Metaphilosophy
  Vol.:  32
  Year:  2001
  Pages:   308
  Supported by:  IPM
  Abstract:
In a number of articles Donald Davidson has argued that the charitable nature of his method of radical interpretation rules out the possibility of massive error, and, thus, refutes Cartesian skepticism. The diversity of such arguments and the suggestions that are all being made under the name of the principle of charity have prompted a large body of conflicting responses, adding only to the obscurity of the issues that are generally associated with the question of skepticism. In this paper I propose to consider the debate in a new light by reconstruing the principle of charity as a supervenience constraint on belief attribution. This would help explain some of the puzzling features of Davidson?s arguments, like the idea of an omniscient interpreter, and the ensuing commentaries. Having provided an analysis of the limitations of Davidson?s arguments, I shall then suggest an alternative explanation of the purported necessity of the principle of charity. Finally, I shall examine the consequences of seeing the principle of charity as a supervenience constraint for the logical status of the principle itself and its alleged epistemic potentials.

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