Interpretivism and norms

  • Devin Sanchez CurryEmail author


This article reconsiders the relationship between interpretivism about belief and normative standards. Interpretivists have traditionally taken beliefs (and thus veridicality conditions for belief attribution) to be fixed in relation to norms of interpretation. However, recent work by philosophers and psychologists reveals that human belief attribution practices are governed by a rich diversity of normative standards. Interpretivists thus face a dilemma: either give up on the idea that belief is constitutively normative or countenance a context-sensitive disjunction of norms that constitute belief. Either way, interpretivists should embrace the intersubjective indeterminacy of belief.


Belief Normativity Intersubjective indeterminacy Relativism Davidson Dennett 



I have received invaluable feedback on the ideas presented in this article from Kristin Andrews, Ben Baker, Marie Barnett, Liz Camp, Amelia Curry, David Curry, Louise Daoust, Zoltan Domotor, Nabeel Hamid, Gary Hatfield, Brian Huss, Raffi Krut-Landau, Errol Lord, Lisa Miracchi, Bob Myers, Bjørn Ramberg, Quayshawn Spencer, Jordan Taylor, Claudine Verheggen, Michael Weisberg, Rob Willison, Ben Winokur, and two anonymous referees for this journal. The opening parable was inspired by a conversation with the Rev. Dr. Geoffrey Lentz, Pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Port St. Joe, Florida. Thanks also to participants in the 2017 conference on The Legacy of Donald Davidson at York University, as well as audiences at SUNY Potsdam, Kenyon College, and The College of Wooster. Any remaining flaws in my argument should be blamed on the bomb cyclone that prevented philosophers from attending my talk at the 2018 Eastern APA on an island in Savannah, Georgia. This research was partially supported by a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyThe College of WoosterWoosterUSA

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