ISO Davidson Interpreter For Enlightenment

On page 12 of “The Problem of Objectivity” (in the 2004 collection Problems of Rationality), Davidson, in the course of arguing for a holistic understanding of the mental, says the following:

Before we say a creature believes the sun is now shining, we should ask for evidence that the creature understands what it is for the sun to be shining. There could be such evidence (whether or not we as observers have it) only if the creature is able to demonstrate that it can believe falsely that the sun is shining.

Try as I might, I can’t understand what Davidson means by ‘demonstrate that it can believe falsely’ nor why he says it. Why is believing falsely so important?  And how does one demonstrate that one can have false beliefs about something (something which one claims to have beliefs about)?

Anybody wanna school me?


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