Davidson and Heidegger on the nature of truth

Date of Completion

January 2004






The dissertation examines Davidson and Heidegger's rejections of correspondence truth, as well as their claims that truth is theoretically primitive. Truth is primitive in the sense that it cannot be reduced to, nor defined in terms of, some other more theoretically basic concepts, such as those offered in correspondence, coherence, and pragmatic accounts of truth. The fact that truth cannot be defined in terms of more basic concepts does not mean that there are not important and meaningful things to say about truth; Davidson and Heidegger's agreement that there is more to say about truth distinguishes them from minimalist approaches to truth. Davidson and Heidegger make explicit truth's conceptual relationship to other important areas of inquiry such as language, subjectivity, and ontology. The dissertation claims that the two philosophers agree, despite radically different background texts and methodologies, on the fundamental relationship between self, other, and world. The dissertation moves beyond mere comparison by showing that Davidson's own position commits him to a Heideggerian treatment of truth, or something like it. I argue that understanding the similarities and supplemental arguments offered by each philosopher leads to a better overall account of truth than that offered by each philosopher individually. Moreover, I argue that although Heidegger and Davidson offer primarily transcendental arguments, their theories can accommodate naturalistic theories of language and concept acquisition. ^