, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 123–134 | Cite as

Conceptual Schemes Revisited: Davidsonian Metaphysical Pluralism

  • Timothy J. NultyEmail author
Original Paper


Davidson’s 1974 argument denying the possibility of incommensurable conceptual schemes is widely interpreted as entailing a denial of metaphysical pluralism. Speakers may group objects differently or have different beliefs about the world, but there is just one world. I argue there is tension arising from three aspects of Davidson’s philosophy: (1) the 1974 argument against conceptual schemes; (2) Davidson’s more recent emphasis on primitive triangulation as a necessary condition for thought and language; and (3) Davidson’s semantic approach to metaphysics, what he calls ‘the method of truth in metaphysics’. After elucidating the tension, I argue the tension can be resolved while preserving at least two major tenets of Davidson’s philosophy: (1) conceptual schemes do not carve an uninterpreted reality into different worlds and (2) truth is objective and non-epistemic. I argue Davidson is implicitly committed to a plurality of worlds.


Davidson Conceptual schemes Ontological relativity Triangulation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Arts & Sciences, Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Massachusetts DartmouthNorth DartmouthUSA

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