Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Adrienne Martin

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How do we understand ourselves? How do we relate with others? How do we build communities? These are some questions David Velleman’s theory of mutual interpretability appears to answer. In Foundations For Moral Relativism, Velleman argues that self-understanding is interlinked with one’s ability to understand others; in other words, with one’s ability to be mutually interpretable. However, being mutually interpretable requires that a person share some set of beliefs or a perceptional framework with another person that would allow the two to interact successfully with one another. Thus, communities are simply a collection of individuals whose shared beliefs enable them to more or less understand one another and engage in successful interaction Although Velleman goes on to use this theory to argue for the existence of Moral relativism, I analyze how this theory affects a bi-cultural or multi-cultural person’s self-understanding and personal identity. In other words, I explore how a multi-cultural person that learns to be mutually interpretable in more than one place forms self-identity and learns to understand him or herself.