Skepticism and Interpretation


Kirk Ludwig




I offer an interpretation and criticism of Donald Davidson's arguments against radical skepticism.  I distinguish two lines of argument, the omniscient interpreter argument, and an argument from the necessary publicity of language.  I argue the omniscient interpreter argument begs the question, and that the argument from the necessary publicity of language requires a much stronger publicity requirement than is supported any intuitive considerations in support of the claim that languages are necessarily public.  In particular, Davidson needs to maintain that any speaker in any environment is interpretable potentially by any interpreter.  The essentially public nature of language is captured by the requirement that any speaker is potentially interpretable by some interpreter in some environment.  I conclude with a criticism of the central argument for a coherence theory and a suggestion based on that criticism for an alternative approach to skepticism.