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date: 15 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article deals with the relations between language, thought, and rationality, and especially the role and status of assumptions about rationality in interpreting another's speech and assigning contents to her psychological attitudes—her beliefs, desires, intentions, and so on. Some large degree of rationality is required for thought. Consequently, that same degree of rationality at least is required for language, since language requires thought. Thought, however, does not require language. This article lays out the grounds for seeing rationality as required for thought, and it meets some recent objections on conceptual and empirical grounds. Furthermore, it gives particular attention to Donald Davidson's arguments for the Principle of Charity, according to which it is constitutive of speakers that they are largely rational and largely right about the world, and to Davidson's arguments for the thesis that without the power of speech one lacks the power of thought.

Keywords: language, thought, rationality, psychological attitudes, Donald Davidson

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