This project is motivated by my interest in metaphors and the Davidsonian truth condition semantics. The thesis has five chapters.

Chapter 1 is an exposition of Davidson’s approach to meaning, which has two important ingredients, a purely extensional, recursively defined formalized system and radical interpretation. We hope to reveal the appeals of Davidson’s position by discussing what important features his theoretical framework allows us to address.

Chapter 2 is an exposition of metaphors, in which we introduce the idea of metaphor as semantic and give a characterization of some important features of metaphors. We hope to establish the idea that metaphors constitute an important semantic phenomenon, because they can characterize reality and bring us new knowledge about the world.

In Chapter 3, we reveal a dilemma between Davidson’s truth condition semantics and the view of metaphor as semantic. Our diagnosis of the dilemma reveals the contradiction as consisting in the idea that a T-theory entails a ‘flat’ view of meaning, which forbids structured interrelations among words and the notion of category.

In Chapter 4, we attempt to reconcile the dilemma by reconsidering an important component of Davidson’s truth condition semantics, radical interpretation. Our analysis suggests that Davidson’s approach to meaning does not deny, but requires and presupposes, the structured relations of affinities and contrasts among words.

Chapter 5 is a defense of the important claims that we make about metaphors in Chapter 2. We argue for the view of metaphor as semantic from four aspects, viz., (1) against a pragmatic view of metaphor, (2) metaphor as creating new meanings, (3) our deep metaphorical conceptual scheme, and (4) the rule-breaking nature of metaphor.


Thomson, Garrett




Philosophy of Language

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2018 Junyi Chen