Radical quotation and real repetition

Roden, David (2004). Radical quotation and real repetition. Ratio, 17(2) pp. 191–206.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9329.2004.00247.x


In this essay I argue for a constructivist account of the entities composing the object languages of Davidsonian truth theories and a quotational account of the reference from metalinguistic expressions to interpreted utterances. I claim that ‘radical quotation’ requires an ontology of repeatable events with strong similarities to Derrida's account of iterable events. In part one I summarise Davidson's account of interpretation and Olav Gjelsivk's arguments to the effect that the syntactic individuation of linguistic objects is only workable if interpreters make richer assumptions about semantic properties than Davidson can tolerate. In part two I show that the objectivist account of syntactic objects which Gjelsivk's arguments presuppose is incompatible with one corollary of Davidsonian semantic indeterminacy: namely, the relativity of language to interpretative scheme. In place of this an account of radical interpretation is presented in which a quotational theory of metalinguistic reference furnishes the requisite relativity. In part three I argue that this account requires that particular utterance events must be repeatable to be radically quotable and give reasons why particularity and repeatability are not incompatible

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