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The Principle of Charity in Philosophy

Abstract: The principle of charity is a presumption wherein our own preconceptions regarding most any form of discourse is temporally set aside in the endeavor to secure a coherent, rational, and respectful understanding of the subject prior to its interpretation or evaluation. Various related versions of the principle are described here with illustrative examples. In practice, the principle of charity is a somewhat idealized guide to translate interpret, or understand problematic or difficult discourse involved in a variety of types of deliberation, arbitration, conversation, dialogue, discussion, or argumentation.


  1. The Principle of Charity[1] is a methodological presumption made in order to understand a point of view in its clearest, most credible form before subjecting that view to appraisal.

    Understanding often requires interpretation, and the development of a principle of charity is thought necessary to help establish dependable and accurate interpretation and translation. Charitable interpretation is pragmatically approached differently in different kinds of discourse and argumentation since their context, purpose, and mode of presentation involve different kinds of obligations. Understanding a point of view often requires interpretation of that point of view.

    1. Central elements of the Principle of Charity:

      Not all kinds of discourse require application of the principle of charity. However, the application of the principle of charity is sometimes necessary in order to develop a dependably accurate interpretation of problematic ideas. When charity is needed for clarity of meaning in argumentation or deliberation, general guidelines for applying the principle of charity often include the following elements:

      1. While temporarily suspending our own beliefs, we actively seek a thoughtful understanding of an exposition, theory, or argument prior to assessing its merits or weaknesses.

      2. We provisionally assume the proposed ideas are true even though our initial reaction might be to find fault with the ideas. For the present, any ambiguity or abstruseness of thought is tolerated in order facilitate a cogent understanding of the presented text.

      3. A preliminary emphasis is placed on pursuing understanding rather rather than focusing on inconsistencies or confounding ideas.

      4. We seek to understand the ideas in their most cogent form and actively attempt to extract an accurate interpretation in the effort to resolve, if possible, contradictions. If more than one view is presented, we choose the most cogent emerging perspective — and, when possible, confirm the key ideas interactively with the presenter.

      5. Whenever translations or interpretations depend upon unclear contextual and background suppositions, some indeterminacy and uncertainty is unavoidable.

      6. Once any irrelevancies are dismissed and the exposition or argument be reliably understood, only then can the resulting account can be properly assessed.

      7. Some academics believe that there is also a moral component to the principle of charity for some areas of inquiry, namely to presume the discourse under consideration resulted from a rational and competent proponent. A sense of good will or decency toward the individual as well as the discourse ought be present.[2]

    2. The principle of charity is a methodological principle whereby ideas or arguments are critiqued only after adequate understanding is achieved.

      1. This initial step of temporarily setting aside our own beliefs and granting that the proposed ideas might be true is provisional and, to a certain extent, idealized.

      2. Hence, assuming the subject matter merits clarification,[2] we should then try to seek understanding as if we had no preconceived notions about the subject. We should attempt to be open, attentive and receptive toward the ideas presented.

      3. This attitude, if maintainable, can help free,to a large extent, our conditioned and habituated minds so that we are more likely impartially assimilate and understand antagonistic or unfamiliar ideas.

      4. Acting in accordance with the principle of charity is essential if we are genuinely interested in comprehending difficult and unusual ideas.

  2. Different Approaches to Interpretation of Discourse: Various methods of explanation or interpretation of discourse include a number of common features discussed below. These methods are emphasized in varying degrees for individual discursive purposes in deliberation, arbitration, conversation, dialogue, discussion, argumentation: textual, intentional, purposive, and the integrative (a combination of the textual and purposive modes of interpretation).

    1. The textual, representational, formalist or dialogical interpretation of the principle stresses the semantic meaning and propositional truth-claims of the objective issues in the subject being studied. A textualist interpretation concentrates on the ordinary language semantic context even if the local context conflicts with the more general contextual purpose. Under this interpretation, the meaning of the local text should not be altered since the true intention or purpose of their general intent can be, at times, surmised as incoherent and inaccurate.

      The whole point of the textual interpretation is to clarify accurately the ideas or the argument presented without any attempt to improve, simplify, or elucidate the points presented. So, in this way, the textual approach avoids the straw man fallacy and is not so much as an interpretation as it is a restatement of the plain meaning without any effort to find and resolve evident confusions or inconsistencies. Textual interpretation seeks complete fidelity. The following examples are suggestive of the textual approach to interpretation:

      1. In legal theory, with respect to textualism or the “plain meaning” rule, Justice Anthony Scalia writes,
        “The text is the law, and it is the text that must be observed. … A text should not be construed strictly, and it should not be construed leniently; it should be construed reasonably, to contain all that it fairly means.”[2.1]
        Under the so-called literal rule, a judge foregoes consideration of consequences or external legislative intent and interprets a statute in accordance with its manifest ordinary meaning.

      2. In literary theory, textualism is reflected to some extent in the New Critical Movement. John Crowe Ransom's doctrine is “criticism must become more scientific, or precise and systematic”[2.1a], and “the autonomy of the work itself [is seen] as existing for its own sake.”[2.1b]:
        The first law to be prescribed to criticism … is that it shall be objective, shall cite the nature of the object rather than its effects upon the subject.[2.1c]
        The same approach is suggested by Cleanth Brooks in his interpretation of Wordsworth's “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” as “an object in itself” or “as an independent poetic structure, even to the point of forfeiting the light which his letters, his notes, and his other poems throw on difficult points.”[2.1d] Or, in Archibald MacLeish's words, “A poem should not mean but be.”[2.1d']

      3. In philosophy, most often the textual approach to understanding a point of view or an argument is at best a provisional approach. As will be discussed below, philosophical interpretation emphasizes coherence and truth of the viewpoint as determined in the context of its presentation.

        Translation depends upon not only the context of the original exposition but also the context of how it is to be interpreted. The early analytic philosopher Gottlob Frege points out the truth of a statement often depends upon the context of its interpretation:
        ”T]he content of a sentence often goes beyond the thought expressed by it. But the opposite often happens too; the mere mere wording, which can be made permanent by writing or the gramophone, does not suffice for the expression of the thought … [T]he mere wording, as it can be preserved in writing, is not the complete expression of the thought; the knowledge of certain conditions accompanying the utterance, which are used as of expressing the thought, is needed for us to grasp the thought correctly.”[4a]
        And, as well, philosopher Saul Kripke points out any account of beliefs must account for different interpretations of referential and attributive uses — i.e., understanding the statement by its words alone or by its intended contextual reference where …
        “our normal practices of interpretation and attribution of belief are subjected to the greatest possible strain, perhaps to the point of breakdown. So is the notion of the content of someone's assertion, the proposition it expresses. In the present state of our knowledge, I think it would be foolish to draw any conclusion, positive or negative, about substitutivity.”[4b]
        Additionally, Richard Grandy's interpretative principle of humanity emphasizes the maximization of intelligibility of a viewpoint by emphasizing the “obvious truths” (logical and empirical truths) it has with our own understanding. {FN GRANDY 1973 440.}

        Frequent Disadvantage: A difficulty with the textualist approach to the principle of charity is that what purports to be a literal interpretation of the meaning of a passage is partially a results of cognitive biases of a given interpreter — any two individuals will, on a particular occasion disagree over what is literally evident in the text in question. In his rejection of formalist interpretation legal theorist Allan Hutchinson writes:
        “Under the guise of valid and impersonal interpretation, a textualist approach smuggles in surreptitiously through the back door that which it ceremoniously denies entry at the front door — the personal preferences of the reader or the judge.”[2.1g]

    2. The intentional, hermeneutical, exegetical or deictical accents internal, intertextual contemplative meanings of sentences conveying some aspect of value adaptation such as the intention of the text. Understanding and truth cannot solely be derived from a method or the use of criteria. By means of an intentional experience such as dialogue, truth emerges — that truth which is determinable is approached in the same manner as reasonable persons resolve difficulties. Textual ambiguity is to be resolved by contextual subjective (often historical) intent — not just semantic evidence.

      1. In legal theory, with the intentional approach the meaning of the text of the law is embodied in the intention of the legislators who framed the law. The interpreter seeks to understand the historical intention of the source. E.g. when a statute can be seen as obscure or ambiguous. Jurist Theodore Sedgwick allows:
        [T]he only object of the judicial investigation … is to ascertain the intention of the legislature which framed the statute.[2.2]
        And Justice Lurton provides another example of intentional interpretation when he writes in Pickett v. United States:
        The reason of the law, as indicated by its general terms, should prevail over its letter, when the plain purpose of the act will be defeated by strict adherence to its verbiage.[2.2']

      2. In literary theory, Stanley Eugene Fish's early criticism of the New Criticism adds an additional intentional aspect to literalism:
        The stylisticians [i.e., the textualists] proceed as if there were observable facts that could first be described and then interpreted. What I am suggesting is that an interpreting entity, endowed with purposes and concerns, is, by virtue of its very operation, determining what counts as the facts to be observed, and, moreover, that since this determining is not a neutral marking out of a valueless area, but an extension of an already existing field of interests, it is an interpretation. [italics in original][2.2a]
        Fish notes that this judgment obscures the distinction between description and interpretation such that “linguistic and textual facts, rather than being the objects of interpretation are its products.[2.2b]

      3. An example from philosophy is Friedrich Schleiermacher's “hermeneutic circle of understanding” where ”each particular can only be understood by the general, of which it is part, and vice versa.”[2.2b']

        Gadamer transforms Schleiermacher's hermeneutic textual interpretation by further emphasizing the necessity of a contextual understanding of the continuity of underlying historical conditions:
        “[U]nderstanding becomes a scholarly task … necessary to work out … as a hermeneutical situation. Every encounter with tradition that takes place within historical consciousness involves the experience of a tension between the text and the present. The hermeneutic task consists in not covering up this tension … but in consciously bringing it out.[2.2b']
        So Gadamer rejects the notion that works of the past are understandable independently of present understanding.

      4. In argumentation, Michael Scriven, describing his application of the principle of charity, addresses the necessity of intentional understanding:
        “[W]e could shoot the writer down for having said something that doesn't follow or isn't strictly true, it may be more charitable to reinterpret the passage slightly in order to make more ‘sense’ out of it, that is, to make it mean something that a sensible person would be more likely to have really meant.”[2.2c]
        However, Scriven

      5. Frequent Disadvantage: Allan Hutchinson points out: “Whereas a text's meaning is what its earlier writer meant and is synonymous with the author's intention, a text's significance is what the later reader makes out of that meaning and so, unlike a text's meaning, can change with historical circumstance and personal predilection. Accordingly, the intentionalist approach assumes that any interpretation for the text must comport with the explicit, implicit, or reconstructed intention of its makers, even if that intention is to create an ambiguous or indeterminate text.[2.2d]

    3. The purposive emphasizes achievement of some background aim or goal of the source based on extra-textual evidence. If the expressed text deviates from the expressed intent of the text, the purpose of the text takes precedence. The purpose and goal of the source is essential for understanding the context of the source.

      1. In legal theory, with respect to statutory interpretation in legal theory, purposive interpretation can relflect judicial activism, as when Ronald Dworkin writes, “Of course constitutional law is limited by the document's text. But we must interpret the text by finding principles that justify it in political morality, and we must test statutes against the text not by abstract semantics but by asking whether the statutes respect those principles.”[2.3] Dworkin, here, is reflecting Judge Learned Hand's statement, “The judge has, by custom, his own proper representative function as an organ of the social will …”[2.3a]

        And e.g., Justice Reed in United States et al. v. American Trucking Ass'ns expresses the purposive interpretation clearly, “[W]hen the plain meaning … [is] ‘plainly at variance with the policy of the legislation as a whole” this Court has followed that purpose, rather than the literal words.”[2.4]

      2. In literary criticism, the modernist interpretation is “the study of the arts in their social, political, cultural, and intellectual contexts.”[2.4a] So a purposive interpretation eschews plain and ordinary meanings in order to emphasize the text's effects and intents, as in the use of irony where a speaker's intention is in variance from the statements or in romanticism where, according to William Wordsworth, the intention is “to produce excitement in co-existence with an overbalance of pleasure.”[2.4b']

      3. In psychology, with respect to the interpretation of dreams, Freud states, “That the dream actually has a secret meaning, which turns out to be the fulfilment of a wish, must be proved afresh for every case by means of an analysis”.[2.4c] Thus, on this theory, the interpretation of a dream requires extra-textual evidence beyond its literal presentation.

      4. In philosophy,

        In logic,

    4. The integrative which reconstructs the representational emphasis to conform with the hermeneutic interpretation. The text and the purpose of the text are both significant since understanding the text entails understanding the context of the text.

        E.g., with respect to legal theory, Justice Souter writes in Johnson v. United States, “[I]n relying on an uncommon sense of the word, we are departing from the rule of construction that prefers ordinary meaning … But this is exactly what ought to happen when the ordinary meaning fails to fit the text and when the realization of clear congressional policy … is in tension with the result that customary interpretive rules would deliver.” emphasis mine.[2.5]

      1. With regard to literary interpretation, M.A.R. Habib writes:
        A rhetorical approach to a text must concern itself not only with the author's intentions but also with all the features implicated in the text as a persuasive or argumentative use of language: the structure of the text as a means of communication, the nature and response of the audience or reader, the text's relation to other discourses, and the social and political contexts of the interaction between author, text, and reader, as well as a historicist concern with the differences between a modern reception of the text and its original performative conditions. In short, a rhetorical approach views a literary text not as an isolated act (merely recording, for example, the private thoughts of an author) but as a performance in a social context.[2.5]

      2. In psychology, Roy Schafer describes a principle of neutrality as part of an integrative approach to interpretation in a clinical setting including these aspects:
        “[1] The neutral analyst [attempts] to avoid both the imposition of his or her own personal values on the analysand and the unquestioning acceptance of the analysand's initial value judgments.” [6]
        [2] [“The analyst]will tend to work honestly, bravely, patiently, and nonjudgmentally. [48]
        [3] “[T]he analyst should not take sides in the analysand's conflictual … courses of action.” [167]
        [4] “[T]he analyst does not unilaterally try to make anything happen.” [167]
        [5] “[T]he analyst must always be careful not to impose his or her value judgments on the analysand … [168]
        [6] “[T]he analyst appreciate[s] the extraordinary difficulties that stand in the way of significant change … change in one or more major respects is not routinely to be expected … [168]
        [7] “[N]eutrality … implies total repudiation of any adversarial conception” but regarding behavior as “unintelligible behavior that requires understanding.” [168][2.5a]
        Application of neutrality, as also for charity, is, of course, a goal of a process and not the process itself.

      3. In philosophy, [2.5a]

      4. In logic, [2.5a]

  3. Some precursors of the principle of charity originate historically from some aspects of the philosophy of tolerance.

    1. Locke Brouwer Reid Sidgwick Sellars

  4. Refinements of various versions of the principle of charity in philosophy originate from W.V.O. Quine's recognition of the indeterminacy in the radical translation of an unknown language. Quine argues that no additional amount of empirical observation of a native's verbal behavior can result in the complete and precise meaning of sentences.

    1. Willard Van Orman Quine's version of the principle derives from a thought experiment of radical translation (i.e. a proposed attempt to understand a native's unknown language by means of behavioral linguistic observation rather than normative evaluation):
      “[A]ssertions startingly false on the face of them are likely to turn on hidden differences of languages. … The common sense behind the maxim is that one's interlocutor's silliness, beyond a certain point, is less likely than bad translation — or, in the domestic case, linguistic divergence.”[3]
    2. Quine recognizes that if different viewpoints appear to deviate greatly in coherence and truthfulness, then the view under consideration still remains subject to the interpreter's own notion of truth and logic. In order to translate problematic sentences meaningfully, Quine states, “Better translation imposes our logic upon them …”[4] Yet, he also recognizes that different incompatible translations can equally well reflect the linguistic behavior of a native.

    3. Quine cites N.L. Wilson as his source for the principle of charity.[5]

  5. Other versions of the principle of charity include Donald Davidson's principle of rational accommodation whereby we attempt to maximize truth, and Richard Grandy's principle of humanity by which we attempt to maximize intelligibility. Donald Davidson's position differs from Quine in that he attempts to elucidate charity in interpretation of, rather than translation of, verbal expression. He further stresses that the intentional aspect of a proponent's linguistic behavior must also generally accord with the interpreter's mental outlook, unlike Quine who mainly emphasizes empirical language use. Davidson further points out that the principle of charity (or, in his words, “the principle of rational accommodation”)[5] should include the desired attitudes as well as the beliefs of the proponent in order to “maximize” sense and “optimize” agreement for the coherence and factual correspondence of what is said.

    1. According to Davidson, one form of the principle of charity is the application of the principle of coherence which ferrets out “logical consistency in the thought of the speaker,” and the application of another form is the principle of correspondence which assumes “the speaker to be responding to the same features of the world that [we] would be responding to under similar circumstances.”[6]

    2. For this, Davidson concludes:
      The policy of rational accommodation or charity … is the only policy available if we want to understand other people. [emphasis mine]”[7]
      In general, Davidson tends to value the preservation of truth above the consistency of the whole system of belief — “perfect consistency is not to be expected.”[8] However, he emphasizes three main aspects of the principle:

      1. Initially accredit the author with true belief: Ceteris paribus,[8a] the interpreter initially assumes the author believes the statements true, and the statements are, in fact, true.[8b]

      2. Expect the author to be rational: Ceteris paribus, the interpreter initially assumes most, if not all, of the author's understanding of the contextual support for his views is true.[8c]

      3. Presume the author shares basic human values: Ceteris paribus, the interpreter initially assumes most of the author's beliefs accord with the interpreter's viewpoint. [8d]

    3. Difficulties with Davidson's principle of accommodation would seem to arise first with occasions where many significant differences in view occur and second where significant disagreement cannot at all be meaningfully interpreted.

      1. If the proponent's viewpoint contravenes an interpreter's fundamental understanding of the world, the principle of accommodation (i.e., that the proponent's view could be the interpreter's view under similar circumstances) could not be maintained unless the interpreter can temporarily suspend that fundamental understanding in order to grasp the proponent's stance. E.g., a distinct ethical theory advanced by an ethical relativist advancing a distinct ethical view can be sensibly accommodated by an ethical relativist interpreter who advances a different distinct ethical view.

      2. However, on Davidson's principle of accommodation, a relativist proponent convinced of the legitimacy of a plurality of ethical standpoints apparently could not be accommodated by an interpreter whose fundamental understanding of the world is ethical absolutism unless the absolutist interpreter can suspend totally belief while interpreting the ethical relativist. But such a proceeding would violate the principle of accommodation. David Wong, for example recognizes the possibility of moral differences arising from “brute confrontation” which can be “mutually unintelligible ways of life.”[8.1d]

    4. Following Davidson, some more recent accounts of the principle of charity agree with his early statement of the principle:
      “We make maximum sense of the words and thoughts of others when we interpret in a way that optimises agreement (this includes room … for differences of opinion).”[9]
      However, most current accounts follow Davidson's revision of his earlier notion of “maximizing agreement” to a more plausible “optimizing agreement” so as to emphasize additionally values, intentions, and desires — all the while, recognizing that agreement in belief will be only “as far as possible” since the recognition of many differing beliefs may be a necessary point for understanding.

    5. For example, the humanity principle as articulated by Richard Grandy is that we should initially interpret a different philosophical point of view in accordance with the assumption that the interrelation of belief and reality being expressed is similar to our own.[10] Quine's and Davidson's views are in general accord with Grandy's principle.[11] Similarly, in this regard, Daniel Dennett, advances what he titles the projective principle:
      “[O]ne should attribute to [the person's whose view we are attempting to understand] … the propositional attitudes one supposes one would have oneself in those circumstances.”[12]

  6. The original context and purpose of an expressed viewpoint frames what aspects of the principle of charity ought to be employed in order to accomplish a trustworthy interpretation prior to subjecting the view finally to examination, analysis, and evaluation. E.g., the context and purpose of the incipient expository discourse could be that of debate, dialectical inquiry, persuasive appeal, disquisition, argumentation, statutory law, and so forth.

    1. If the purpose of the restatement to clarify accurately what is expressed without any alteration of factual meaning, then …

      1. The interpretation restates emotively significant language, euphemisms, idioms, dialect, double talk, and deceptive language without altering literal significance. As Ernie Lepore and Kirk Ludwig write, ““Understanding people despite their linguistic foibles is a routine exercise of charity.”[13']

      2. The interpretation edits the passage for clarity without presuming or even questioning the intentions of the author.

  7. Consequences of overemphasis on truth, consistency, personal consonance, and other aspects of the principle of charity.

    1. Yet, if the imposition of “our logic” is essential for the application of the principle of charity for the purpose of interpretation, then it would seem to obviate understanding of points of view which eschew Aristotle's principle of non-contradiction such as:

      1. Zen
      2. Hegel
      3. Nietzsche's
      4. Poetry

    2. Against a literal translation: Translation depends upon not only the context of the original exposition but also the context of receptive interpretation. That a statement's truth can depend upon the context of the interpretation in some instances is indicated by Gottlob Frege:
      “[T]he content of a sentence often goes beyond the thought expressed by it. But the opposite often happens too; the mere mere wording, which can be made permanent by writing or the gramophone, does not suffice for the expression of the thought … [T]he mere wording, as it can be preserved in writing, is not the complete expression of the thought; the knowledge of certain conditions accompanying the utterance, which are used as means of expressing the thought, is needed for us to grasp the thought correctly.”[4a]
      Saul Kripke points out any account of beliefs must account for different interpretations of referential and attributive uses — i.e., understanding the statement by its words alone or by its intended contextual reference. where “our normal practices of interpretation and attribution of belief are subjected to the greatest possible strain, perhaps to the point of breakdown. So is the notion of the content of someone's assertion, the proposition it expresses. In the present state of our knowledge, I think it would be foolish to draw any conclusion, positive or negative, about substitutivity.”[4b]

  8. The following examples of the application of the principle of charity indicate some of uses and possible benefits for the explanation, analysis, and evaluation of diverse beliefs

    1. Richard P. Feynman writes in his Nobel Prize Lecture about overcoming his reluctance to consider the notion of backward causation in quantum electrodynamics by citing examples from the history of physics:
      “… all physicists know from studying Einstein and Bohr, that sometimes an idea which looks completely paradoxical at first, if analyzed to completion in all detail and in experimental situations, may, in fact, not be paradoxical.” [14]
      One consequence of Einstein's Theory of Relativity is that one twin traveling into space at high-speed will have aged less upon return than the other twin who remains on earth. One consequence of Bohr's model of the atom is that an electron travels in specific quantatized orbits at discretely stable energy levels. Feynman is suggesting that insights into conceptual problems can sometimes be had by temporary suspension of deep-seated assumptions.

    2. Dostoevsky discloses in his Notes from Underground the seeming contradiction that what is not in one's own interest may be precisely that which is in one's own interest. This is his interpretation of such an apparent contradiction:
      ”Oh, tell me, who was it first announced, who was it first proclaimed, that man only does nasty things because he does not know his own interests; and that if he were enlightened, if his eyes were opened to his real normal interests, man would at once cease to do nasty things, would at once become good and noble … we all know that not one man can, consciously, act against his own interests … And what if it so happens that a man's advantage, sometimes not only may, but even must, consists in his desiring in certain cases what is harmful to himself and not advantageous[?][14]
      Through consideration of the seemingly contradictory idea that one's advantage can be what is precisely not in ones advantage, Dostoevsky indirectly discloses the notion of unconscious motivation.

    3. And Quine provides an even more straightforward example of the principle of charity:
      “Consider … the Spaniard with his ‘No hay nada.’ Lovers of paradox may represent him as flouting the law of double negation. Sober translators may reckon ‘no’ and ‘nada’ in this context, as halves of one negative.” [15]
      Again, we have the “halves of one negative” in the answer “No” in response to such a query as “Did you not do your duty?”

    4. In Hinduism, God is sometimes worshiped as a child when the devotee worships Krishna. From this observation, a Christian, for example, might uncharitably be inclined to believe Hinduism is a polytheistic religion. Yet, for the Christian, the notion of the Christ Child could be suggested by the application of the principle of humanity in order to help understand this ideal in Hinduism. writes:
      “The next [human representation of the ideal of divine love] is what is known as Vatsalya, loving God not as our Father but as our Child. This may look peculiar, but it is a discipline to enable us to detach all ideas of power from the concept of God. … The child's position is always that of the receiver, and out of love for the child the parents will give up their bodies a hundred times over. a thousand lives they will sacrifice for that one child of theirs, and therefore, God is loved as a child. … [T]he Christian and the Hindu can realize [this idea of God as Child] easily, because they have the baby Jesus and the baby Krishna.”[16]
      The similarity belief and attitudes between Christianity and Hinduism, in this regard, helps remove unnecessary difficulties in interpretation.

    5. The principle of charity with respect to interpretation of an individual's intention is illustrated by Dr. Hiam Ginott:
      “On her first visit to kindergarten, while her mother was still with her, Nancy, age five, looked over the painting on the wall and asked loudly, ‘Who made these ugly pictures?’ Nancy's mother was embarrassed. She looked at her daughter disapprovingly, and hastened to tell her, ‘ It's not nice to call the pictures ugly when they are so pretty.’

      The teacher, who understood the meaning of the question, smiled and said, “In here you don't have to paint pretty pictures. You can paint mean pictures if you feel like it.’ A big smile appeared on Nancy's face, for now she has the answer to her hidden question, “what happens to a girl who doesn't paint so well?”[16]
      Adults conversing with children, as is also adults conversing with other social groups, require looking beyond what is said in order to decipher what is meant. Often meanings can only be approached interactively.

  9. Check your understanding with a Quiz here on The Principle of Charity.


“The Principle of Charity: If a participant's argument is reformulated by an opponent, it should be carefully expressed in its strongest possible version that is consistent with what is believed to be the original intention of the arguer. If there is any question about that intention or about any implicit part of the argument, the arguer should be given the benefit of any doubt in the reformulation and/or, when possible, given the opportunity to amend it.”

T. Edward Damer, Attacking Faulty Reasoning: A Practical Guide to Fallacy-Free Arguments 6th ed. (2005 Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2009), 7.


1. “In various versions it constrains the interpreter to maximize the truth or rationality in the subject's sayings.” Simon Blackburn, The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy (London, Oxford University Press: 1994), 62. doi: 10.1093/acref/9780198735304.001.0001

2. E.g. Michael Scriven, Reasoning (McGraw-Hill, 1976), 72. Also Katharina Stevens, Principle of Charity as a Moral Requirement in Non-Institutionalized Argumentation,” 19 (2020) OSSA Conference Archive, 76. Perhaps, as well, Grice's maxims falling under his Cooperative Principle: H.P. Grice, “Logic and Conversation,” in Syntax and Semantics eds. P. Cole and J. L. Morgan vol. 3 (New York: Academic Press, 1975), 47, or “Logic and Conversation,” in Studies in the Way of Words (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1989),28.

2. A practical precondition for applying the principle of charity is sometimes assumed to be that the ideas or argument under investigation be interesting or have merit. For example, Ralph H. Johnson urges with respect to argument evaluation, the passage under examination should be “(i) a fully expressed argument (ii) from a serious arguer (iii) on a serious matter.” Ralph H. Johnson, “Charity Begins at Home,” Informal Logic Newsletter 3 no. 3 (January, 1984), 4-9. doi: 10.22329/il.v3i3.2791

However, this proposed restriction would surely be contentious in many cases. Indeed, normally it's the other way around. An ostensibly confused argument or idea can develop into something meaningful by proceeding with thoughtful restatement in accordance with the principle of charity. That is, oftimes an idea or argument can only be known to be serious or have merit when interpreted in accordance with the principle. Methods of conversational analysis reveal that people natively assume in interactions that what they are told is coherent and meaningful — and this “charity” even extends to computer (and to some extent robot interaction). In conversational interactions with computers, people attempt to find meaning in the system's behavior where there inherently is none. See Lars Christian Jensen, “Using Language Games as a Way to Investigate Interactional Engagement in Human-Robot Interaction,” What Social Robots Can and Should Do: Proceedings of Robophilosophy 2016 in J. Seibt, M. Nøskov, and S. Schack Andersen eds. (Amsterdam, Netherlands: IOS Press, 2016), 78. doi: 10.3233/978-1-61499-708-5-76

On the one hand, the idea is that one should not prejudge unfamiliar ideas as, for example, John Rosemond does at the beginning of his editorial on gentle parenting:

“When I began reading ‘The 9 Words Parents Should Never Say to Their Kid’ … I was skeptical that essayist Patrick Coleman's point of view would line up with my own, and I wasn't disappointed.” [John Rosemond, “It's OK to Tell Your Kinds the Truth,” Index-Journal 100 no. 6 (March 24, 2018), 7A.]
In accordance with Davidson's principle of accommodation, his complete disagreement in belief with advocates of gentle parenting led to an interpretation of ridicule not reflective of Davidson's notion of accommodation:
“According to the gentles, children behave badly only because their adult caregivers have failed to ‘connect’ with them in some essential way (e.g., they have failed to treat said children as equals). It is essential to maintain the charade that children are divine beings sent from heaven to grace us with their immaculate presence.” [“It's OK”]
On the other hand, given that John Rosemond as a knowledgeable child psychologist had previously charitably studied the gentle parenting viewpoint, he would be free to criticize the view.

2.1. Antonin Scalia, A Matter of Interpretation (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), 22-23. The English courts are in general more restrictive—interpreting statutes in accordance with the literal rule (also termed, “the plain meaning rule”) which adheres to the “black letter of the law.” Lord Esher, writes in 1891, “If the words of the Act are clear, you must follow them even though they lead to a manifest absurdity. The Court has nothing to do the the question of whether the legislature has committed an absurdity.” Lord Esher, M.R., “The Court of Appeal, The Queen v. Judge of City of London Court,” in The Law Reports of the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting: Queen's Bench Division, ed. A.P. Stone, (London: Wiliam Clowes and Sons, Ltd., 1892), I: 290.

2.1a. John Crowe Ransom, The World's Body (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1938), 1951), 455.

2.1b. Ransom, 462.

2.1c. Ransom, 463. Also, in poetic criticism, W.K. Wimsatt, Jr. and M.C. Beardsley specifically reject interpretation in terms of the (1) intentional (factors concerning the origin and causes of the composition) and (2) the external affect (factors concerning emotive import or significance). As for the first, “[T]here is no legitimate reason why criticism … should become a dependent of social history or of anthropology”(54), and as for the second: “Vividness is not the thing in the work by which the work may be identified, but the result of a cognitive structure, which is the thing” (italics in the original) (45-46). W.K. Wimsatt and M.C. Beardsley, “The Affective Fallacy” The Sewanee Review 57 no. 1 (Winter, 1949), 31-55. JSTOR

2.1d. Cleanth Brooks, “Wordsworth and the Paradox of the Imagination,”The Well Wrought Urn: Studies in the Structure of Poetry (New York: Harcourt, Inc., 1942), 124.

2.1d''. Archibald MacLeish, Collected Poems, 1917-1982 (Boston: Houghton Miflin Company, 1985), 107.

4a. Gottlob Frege, “Thought,” trans. Peter Geach and R.H. Stoothoff The Frege Reader ed. Michael Beaney (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, Ltd., 1977), 331-332.

x. Grandy 1973, 440.

2.1f. Allan C. Hutchinson, It's All in the Game: A Nonfoundationalist Account of Law and Adjudication (Durham: Duke University Press, 2000), 90. doi: 10.1215/9780822380429>

2.2 Theodore Sedgwick, A Treatise on the Rules Which Govern the Interpretation and Construction of Statutory and Constitutional Law (New York: Baker, Voorhis & Co., 1874), 194.

2.2'.Pickett v. United States, 216 U.S. 456, 461 (1910)

2.2a Stanley Eugene Fish, Is There a Text in this Class?: The Authority of Interpretive Communities (Cambridge MS: Harvard University Press, 1980). 95.

2.2b. Fish, 9.

2.2b'. Friedrich Schleiermacher, Hermeneutics and Criticism and Other Writings trans. and ed. Andrew Bowie (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 142. doi: 10.1017/cbo9780511814945.006

Z.Hans-Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method 2nd rev. ed. trans. Joel Weinsheimer and Donald G. Marshall (1975 London: Continuum, 2004), 305.

2.2c. Scriven, Reasoning, 72.

Another example of intentional interpretation is the application of the British rule or golden rule which takes over when the literal rule leads to an inconsistency or absurdity: “then we ought so to vary and modify the words used as to avoid that which it certainly could not have been the intention of the Legislature ….” Chief Justice Coram Jervis, “Abley v. Dale, 1851,” 20 L.J. C.P. 235 in John James Lowndes, et. al, Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Queen's Bench Practice Court (Dublin: Hodges and Smith, 1852), II:442.

2.2d. Hutchinson, 90.

2.3. Ronald Dworkin, “A Bigger Victory Than We KnewThe New York Review of Books, 59 no. 13 (August 16, 2012), 6-12.

2.3a. Judge Learned Hand, “The Speech of Justice,” Harvard Law Review 29 no. 6 (March, 1916), 617. doi: 10.2307/1326497

2.4. United States et al. v. American Trucking Associations, Inc. et al. 310 U.S.534, 713 (1940), 543-544 (footnotes omitted).

2.4a. Modernist Studies Association

2.4b. Terry Eagleton, Literary Theory: an Introduction (1983 Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2008), 37, 38.

2.4b'. William Wordsworth, The Prose Works of William Wordsworth ed. Alexander B. Grosart (London: Edward Moxon, Son, and Co., 1876), 94.

2.4b'Friedrich Schleiemacher, Hermeneutics and Criticism: And Other Writings ed. and trans. Andrew Bowie (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 24.

2.4c. Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams ed. A.A. Brill (New York: MacMillan, 1913), 123.

2.5. Johnson v. United States, 529 U.S. 694 (2000), 706 (citation omitted). The early British legal positivist John Austin also takes an integrative approach in his “Note on Interpretation”:

“The interpreter seeking the meaning annexed to the words by custom, may not be able to determine it; or he may not be able to find in it, when he has determined or assumed it, any determinate sense that the legislature may have attached to them: And, on either of these suppositions, he may seek in other indicia, the intention which the legislature held.”
John Austin, Lectures on Jurisprudence ed. Robert Campbell, 3rd. ed. (London: John Murray, 1869), II: 1024.

2.5a. Roy Schafer, The Analytic Attitude (1983 London: Karnac Books and the Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 1993), pp. in text.

3. W.V.O. Quine, Word and Object (Cambridge, Mass: The M.I.T. Press, 1960), 59.

4. Quine, Word and Object, 58.

5. W.V.O. Quine refers to this one short passage of Neil Wilson's paper:

“… the Principle of Charity. We select as designatum that individual which will make the largest possible number of … statements true.” [Neil L. Wilson”Substances without Substrata,” The Review of Metaphysics 12 no. 4 (June, 1959), 532. JSTOR]
Wilson's version of the principle foreshadows Donald Davidson's principle of rational accommodation:
”We select as designatum that individual which will make the largest possible number of … statements true.” [Donald Davidson, “Three Varieties of Knowledge (1991),” Subjective, Intersubjective, Objective (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2001), 211.doi: 10.1093/0198237537.003.0014]
On the whole, then, the principle of charity requires an translation or interpretation maximizing agreement, coherence, or consistency, but not necessarily requiring consistency on any specific statement.

4b. Saul A. Kripke, “A Puzzle About Belief,” Meaning and Use (Dordrecht, Netherlands, D. Reidel Publishing Company, 1979), 269. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4020-4104-4_13

5. Donald Davidson, “Expressing Evaluations (1984),” in Problems of Rationality (Clarendon Press, 2004), 35. doi: 10.1093/0198237545.003.0002"

6. Donald Davidson, “Three Varieties of Knowledge,” (1991) in Subjective, Intersubjective, Objective (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 221.

7. Donald Davidson, “A Coherence Theory of Truth and Knowledge (1983),” Subjective, Intersubjective, Objective (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2001), 150. doi: 10.1093/0198237537.003.0010"

8. Donald Davidson, “A Coherence Theory,” 150.

8.1 On the principle of charity, we render others intelligible by analogizing from the body of beliefs, desires, and values we ourselves have adopted. 6 If we find that the acknowledged, overriding system for another group bears very little resemblance with respect to substantial content to our own acknowledged, overriding system, we have a problem. If we see the adherents of that other code to be striving after things so different from what we understand ourselves to be pursuing, we might well suspect that we have not understood these people. 11 To attribute massive error to them is to undermine a crucial assumption of interpretation: that they are forming beliefs about the same world we are. 13 David Wong, Natural Moralities: A Defense of Pluralistic Relativism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 83. doi: 0.1093/0195305396.001.0001

8a. “Ceteris paribus” or “Other things being equal” implies initially assuming the absence of instances of absurdity, deception, ignorance, or fallibility for the moment as unreliability would become discernible through incoherence and falsity in due time when evaluated.

8b. Davidson writes, ”The methodological problem of interpretation is to see how, given the sentences a man accepts as true under given circumstances, to work out what his beliefs are and what his words mean. Donald Davidson, Inquiries Into Truth and Interpretation (1984 New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 162.

8c. E.g., Richard Grandy's pragmatic constraint entitled the principle of humanity that that he thinks improves upon the principle of charity.

8d.Davidson writes, “[T]the Principle of Charity … counsels us quite generally to prefer theories of interpretation that minimize disagreement.” Donald Davidson, Inquiries Into Truth and Interpretation (1984 New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), xvii.

9. Donald Davidson, “On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme (1974),” in Truth and Interpretation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1984), 197.doi: 10.1093/0199246297.003.0013

10. Richard Grandy. “Reference, Meaning, and Belief,” The Journal of Philosophy 70 no. 14 (August, 1973): 439-452.doi: 10.2307/2025108

11. E.g, Quine writes, “For certainly, the more absurd or exotic the beliefs imputed to a people, the more suspicious we are entitled to be of the translations …” Word and Object, 69. And Davidson writes, “[T]the Principle of Charity … counsels us quite generally to prefer theories of interpretation that minimize disagreement.” Donald Davidson, Inquiries Into Truth and Interpretation (1984 New York: Oxford University Press, 1991). xvii).

12. Daniel Dennett, “Midterm Examination: Compare and Contrast,” in The Intentional_Stance (Boston: MIT Press, 1987). 342-343.

13'. Ernie Lepore and Kirk Ludwig, Donald Davidson: Meaning, Truth, Language, and Reality (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 270.

14. Laurie M. Brown, ed., Selected Papers of Richard Feynman (With Commentary), vol. 27 World Scientific Series in 20th Century Physics (Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co., 2000), 12.

14.Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground trans. Constance Garnett in Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre ed. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Penguin Meridian Books, 1989), 67.

15. Quine, Word and Object, 59.

16. Swami Vivekananda, “Human Representations of the Divine Ideal of Love, ”The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda (Partha Sinha, 2019), 583.

17.Hiam G. Ginnot, Between Parent and Child, rev. Alice Ginott and H. Wallace Goddard (1965 New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003), 8.

The Principle of Charity Bibliography

Maija Aalto-Heinilä, “Fairness in Statutory Interpretation: Text, Purpose or Intention,” International Journal of Legal Discourse 1 no. 1 (), 193-211. doi: 10:1515/ijld-2016-004

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Jonathan E. Adler, “Why Be Charitable?,” Informal Logic 4 no. 2 (May, 1982), 15-16. doi: 10.22329/il.v4i2.2769

Adam Weller Gur Arye, “Reid's Principle of Credulity as a Principle of Charity,” Journal of Scottish Philosophy 14 no. 1 (2016), 69-83. doi: 10.3366/jsp.2016.0114

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Tracy Bowell and Gary Kemp, Critical Thinking: A Concise Guide 3rd ed. (2002 New York: Routledge, 2010), 56-60.

Alan Brinton, “Analysis of Argument Strategies of Attack and Cooption: Stock Cases, Formalization, and Argument Reconstruction,Informal Logic 17 no. 2 (Spring, 1995), 249-258. doi: 10.22329/il.v17i2.2412

Marí:a Rosario Hernández Borges, “The Principle of Charity, Transcendentalism and Relativism, ” The Proceedings of the Twenty-First Wold Congress of Philosophy 6 (2007), 69-75. doi: 10.5840/wcp2120076186

Anthony Brueckner, “Moore-Paradoxicality and the Principle of Charity,” Theoria 75 no. 3 (2009), 245-247. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-2567.2009.01042.x"

Maria Caamaño, “Davidson's Argument for the Principle of Charity,” in Just the Arguments: 100 of the Most Important Arguments in Western Philosopy eds. Michael Bruce and Steven Barbone Chichester, UK: (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), 367-369. doi: 10.1002/9781444344431.ch98

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Donald Davidson, “Radical Interpretation,” Dialectics 27 no. 3-4 (December 1973), 313-328. doi: 10.5840/apapa2013236 doi: 10.1111/j.1746-8361.1973.tb00623.x

Johathan Davis, “A Code of Conduct for Effective Rational Discussion” A useful summary of twelve principles for open discussion in Usenet debates which is drawn from T. Edward Damer, Attacking Faulty Reasoning 6th ed. (2005 Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2009), 7, 19-20.

Peter Davson-Galle, “Interpreting Arguments and Judging Issues,&rdquo Informal Logic 11 no. 1 (Winter, 1989), 41-45. doi:10.22329/il.v11i1.2616

Daniel Dohrn, “Interpretive Charity and Content Externalism,”unpublished manuscript

Robert Fogelin, “Charitable Reconstruction and Logical Neutrality,” Informal Logic 4 no. 3 (January, 1984), 2-5. doi: 10.22329/il.v4i3.2772

M. Finocchiaro, “Fallacies and the Evaluation of Reasoning,” American Philosophical Quarterly, 18 no. 1 (March, 1981), 13-22. doi: 10.2307/20013887 [Logic/Fallacies folder]

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Christopher Gauker, “The Principle of Charity,” Synthese 69 no. 1 (October, 1986), 1-25. doi: 10.1007/bf01988284

David Glidden, “Augustine's Hermeneutics and the Principle of Charity,” Ancient Philosophy 17 no. 1 (1997), 135-157. doi: 10.5840/ancientphil199717123

Kathrin Glüer, “The Status of Charity I: Conceptual Truth or A Posteriori Necessity?,” International Journal of Philosophical Studies 14 no. 3 (September, 2006), 337-359. doi: 10.1080/09672550600858320

Nathaniel Goldberg, “The Principle of Charity,” Dialogue (Fall, 2004), 671-683. doi: 10.1017/S001221730000398X

Trudy Govier, A Practical Study of Argument (Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2010), 51-51.

Trudy Govier, “Uncharitable Thoughts about Charity,” Informal Logic 4 no. 1 (November, 1981), 5-6. doi: 10.22329/il.v4i1.2761

Richard Grandy, “ Reference, Meaning, and Belief,” The Journal of Philosophy 70 no. 14 (August, 1973), 439-452. doi: 10.2307/2025108

H.P. Grice, “Logic and Conversation,” in Syntax and Semantics eds. P. Cole and J. L. Morgan (New York: Academic Press, 1975), 41-58.

Moria Gutteridge, “‘First Sit Down and Play the Piano Beautifully …’Reading Carefully for Critical Thinking,” Informal Logic 9 no. 2-3 (Spring-Fall, 1987), 81-91. doi: 10.22329/il.v9i2.2664

H. V. Hansen, “An Informal Logic Bibliography,” Informal Logic 12 (1990), 181. [155-184]. doi: 10.22329/il.v12i3.2611

David K. Henderson, &ldquopEpistemic Rationality, Epistemic Motivation and Interpretive Charity,” ProtoSociology 8-9 (1996), 4-29. doi: 10.5840/protosociology19968/91

David K. Henderson, “The Importance of Explanation in Quine's Principle of Charity in Translation,” Philosophy of the Social Sciences 18 no. 3 (September, 1988), 355-369. doi: 10.1177/004839318801800304

David K. Henderson, “The Principle of Charity and the Problem of Irrationality (Translation and the Problem of Irrationality),” Synthese 73 no. 2 (November, 1987), 225-252. doi: 10.1007/BF00484741

David K. Henderson, “Winch and the Constraints on Interpretation: Versions of the Principle of Charity,” The Southern Journal of Philosophy 25 no. 2 (1987), 153-173. doi: 10.1111/j.2041-6962.1987.tb01614.x

Henry Jackman, “Charity, Self-Interpretation, and Belief,&rdquo: Journal of Philosophical Research 28 (2003) 143-168. doi: 10.5840/jpr_2003_20

Dale Jacquette, “Charity and the Reiteration Problem for Enthymemes,” Informal Logic 18 no. 1 (Winter, 1996), 1-15. doi: 10.22329/il.v18i1.2364 [Logic Syllogism]

Ralph H. Johnson, “Charity Begins at Home,” Informal Logic 3 no. 3 (January, 1984), 4-9. doi: 10.22329/il.v3i3.2791

Ralph H. Johnson and J. Anthony Blair, ”Informal Logic and the Reconfiguration of Logic,” in Handbook of the Logic of Argument and Inference: The Turn Towards the Practical ed. Dov M. Gaggay et al. (Elsevier, 2002), 368-369 [339-396] doi: 10.1016/s1570-2464(02)80010-6

Ralph H. Johnson and J. Anthony Blair, Logical Self-Defense (Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1977), 15, 17, 29, 34, 41, 66. [Textbooks]

R. H. Johnson, “The New Logic Course: The State of the Art in Non-Formal Methods of Argument Analysis,” Informal Logic 4 no. 2 (1981), [123-143].

Saul A. Kripke, “A Puzzle About Belief Meaning and Use (Dordrecht, Netherlands, D. Reidel Publishing Company, 1979), 239-288. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4020-4104-4_13

Daniel Laurier, “On the Principle of Charity and the Sources of Indeterminacy,” in Consciousness and Intentionality: Models and Modalities of Attribution ed. Denis Fisette (Dordrecht: Springer Netherland, 1999), 229-248. doi: 10.1007/978-94-015-9193-5_11

Ernie Lepore and Kirk Ludwig, &lduo;The Justification of the Principle of Charity,” in Donald Davidson Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 198-208. doi: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195145397.003.0018

Marcin Lewiński, “The Paradox of Charity,” Informal Logic 32 no. 4 (2012), 403-439. doi: 10.22329/il.v32i4.3620

Kirk Ludwig, “Rationality, Language, and the Principle of Charity,” in The Oxford Handbook of Rationality, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 343-362. doi: 10.1093/0195145399.003.0018

J. E. Malpas, “The Nature of Interpretative Charity,” Dialectica 42 no. 1 (1988), 17-36. doi: 10.1111/dltc.1988.42.issue-1

John F. Manning, “What Divides Textualist from Purposivists?,” Columbia Law Review 106 no.1 (January, 2006), 70-111. JSTOR

Rita C. Manning, “A More Charitable Principle of Charity,Informal Logic 5 no. 2 (1981), 20-21. doi: 10.22329/il.v5i2.2752"

Randal Marlin, “The Rhetoric of Action Description: Ambiguity in Intentional Reference,” Informal Logic 6 no. 3 (Fall, 1984) 26-29. doi: 10.22329/il.v6i3.2737

Andrew Melnyk, “What Do Philosophers Know? A Critical Study of Williamson's ‘The Philosophy of Philosophy’,” Grazer Philosophische Studien 80 no. 1 (2010), 297-307.

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Carlo Penco, “Truth, Assertion and Charity,” unpublished (2008), 1-11.

Phyllis Rooney, “Commentary on: Kathryn J. Norlock's ‘Receptivity as a Virtue of (Practitioners of Argumentation’,” Virtues of Argumentation: Proceedings of he 10th International Conference of the Ontario Society for the Study of Argumentation 10 (May, 2013), 1-3.

Paul Saka, “Spurning Charity,” Axiomathes 17 no. 2 (July, 2007), 197-208. doi: 10.1007/s10516-006-9000-x"

Thomas Schwartz, “Logic and Substance: A Reply to Fogelin,” Informal Logic 4 no. 3 (1981)5. doi: 10.22329/il.v4i3.2774

Michael Scriven, Reasoning (Englewood Cliffs, N,J.: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1973), 71-72.

N. Shanks, “On Davidson's Principle of Charity,” Philosophical Inquiry 3 no. 3-4 (Summer/Fall1981), 167-181. doi: 10.5840/philinquiry198133/410

Neven Sesardić, “Psychology Without Principle of Charity,” Dialectica 40 no. 3 (September, 1986), 229-240. doi: 10.1111/j.1746-8361.1986.tb01535.x

Roy Sorensen, “Charity Implies Meta-Charity,” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 68 no. 2 (March 2004), 290 -315.doi: 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2004.tb00342.x

E. Stein, Without Good Reason: The Rationality Debate in Philosophy and Cognitive Science (Oxford: Clarendon,1996), 24, 112-136, 271, 195.

Tom Stern, “‘Some Third Thing’: Nietzsche's Words and the Principle of Charity,” Journal of Nietzsche Studies 47 no. 2 (Summer, 2016), 287-302. doi: 10.5325/jnietstud.47.2.0287

Göan Sundholm, “Brouwer's Anticipation of the Principle of Charity,” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society New Series 85 no. 1 (1984), 145-146. doi: 10.1093/aristotelian/85.1.263

Göan Sundholm, “Brouwer's Anticipation of the Principle of Charity,” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society New Series 85 no. 1 (1985), 263-276. doi: 10.1093/aristotelian/85.1.263

Paul Thagard and Richard E. Nisbett, “Rationality and Charity,” Philosophy of Science 50 (1983), 250-267.

Ted Toadvine, “Hermeneutics and the Principle of Explicablility,” Auslegung 20 no. 2 (June, 1995), 59-75. doi: 10.17161/AJP.1808.9402

Evert Vedung, “Systematic Interpetation and the Principle of Charity,” Informal Logic 21-22.

Bruce Vermazen, “General Beliefs and the Principle of Charity,” Philosophical Studies 42 no. 1 (July, 1982), 111-118. doi: 10.1007/BF00372844

Timothy Williamson, “Contextualism, Subject-Sensitive Invariantism and Knowledge,” The Philosophical Quarterly 55 no. 219 (April 2005), 213-235. doi: 10.1111/j.0031-8094.2005.00396.x

Timothy Williamson, “Philosophical ‘Intuitions’ and Scepticism about Judgement,” Dialectica 58 no. 1 (June 2005), 109-153 doi: 10.1111/j.1746-8361.2004.tb00294.x

David Wong, Natural Moralities: A Defense of Pluralistic Relativism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 83. doi: 0.1093/0195305396.001.0001

Chuang Ye, “The Limit of Charity and Agreement,” Frontiers of Philosophy in China 3 no. 1 (March, 2008), 99-122. doi: 10.1007/s11466-008-0007-9


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