I argue that conventional implicatures embed in logical compounds, and are non-truth-conditional contributors to sentence meaning. This, I argue has significant implications for how we understand truth, truth-conditional content, and truth-bearers.
The paper discusses what kind of truth bearer, or truth-ascription, a deflationist should take as primary. I first present number of arguments against a sententialist view. I then present a deflationary theory which takes propositions as primary, and try to show that it deals neatly with a wide range of linguistic data. Next, I consider both the view that there is no primary truth bearer, and the most common account of sentence truth given by deflationists who take propositions as primary, (...) and argue that they both attribute an implausible type of ambiguity to “true”. This can be avoided, however, if truth-ascriptions to sentences are taken as a certain form of pragmatic ellipses. I end by showing how this hypothesis accommodates a number of intuitions involving truth-ascriptions to sentences. (shrink)
I here develop a specific version of the deflationary theory of truth. I adopt a terminology on which deflationism holds that an exhaustive account of truth is given by the equivalence between truth-ascriptions and de-nominalised (or disquoted) sentences. An adequate truth-theory, it is argued, must be finite, non-circular, and give a unified account of all occurrences of “true”. I also argue that it must descriptively capture the ordinary meaning of “true”, which is plausibly taken to be unambiguous. Ch. 2 is (...) a critical historical survey of deflationary theories, where notably disquotationalism is found untenable as a descriptive theory of “true”. In Ch. 3, I aim to show that deflationism cannot be finitely and non-circularly formulated by using “true”, and so must only mention it. Hence, it must be a theory specifically about the word “true” (and its foreign counterparts). To capture the ordinary notion, the theory must thus be an empirical, use-theoretic, semantic account of “true”. The task of explaining facts about truth now becomes that of showing that various sentences containing “true” are (unconditionally) assertible. In Ch. 4, I defend the claim (D) that every sentence of the form “That p is true” and the corresponding “p” are intersubstitutable (in a use-theoretic sense), and show how this claim provides a unified and simple account of a wide variety of occurrences of “true”. Disquotationalism then only has the advantage of avoiding propositions. But in Ch. 5, I note that (D) is not committed to propositions. Use-theoretic semantics is then argued to serve nominalism better than truth-theoretic ditto. In particular, it can avoid propositions while sustaining a natural syntactic treatment of “that”-clauses as singular terms and of “Everything he says is true”, as any other quantification. Finally, Horwich’s problem of deriving universal truth-claims is given a solution by recourse to an assertibilist semantics of the universal quantifier. (shrink)
There is a certain approach to the semantic paradoxes that is highly intuitive and for that reason alone never seems to go away. Roughly put, it's the idea that the paradoxical sentences just don't really have any truth conditions at all, no matter how grammatically sound and meaningful they and their parts are. I suppose that just about anyone who spends even a relatively modest amount of time thinking about the paradoxes comes up with this idea eventually. There is a (...) great deal to recommend this approach, especially when it carefully distinguishes sentence tokens from sentence types. For one thing, it requires no significant alteration in commonsensical views about language or logic. Let us call it the Token Approach, as it trades on distinguishing linguistic tokens from types. The approach does not contain any of the flashy logical moves that characterize most other current responses to the semantic paradoxes. Many contemporary philosophers of language and logic ignore the Token Approach in part because, it seems, they cannot display their logical chops when investigating it. Despite this devastating drawback, the approach strikes me as good as any. -/- It faces two obstacles: it apparently lacks a plausible explanation of how certain type-identical sentence tokens can differ in truth conditions, and it may fail to adequately deal with certain paradoxical sentences of the liar family. However, I don't take the obstacles to be insurmountable: in each case the advocate of the Token Approach can appeal to a traditional and highly credentialed-if controversial and obscure-contemporary view of linguistic meaning that promises to supply suitable ways around both obstacles. (shrink)
In this essay (for undergraduates) I introduce three of the famous semantic paradoxes: the Liar, Grelling’s, and the No-No. Collectively, they seem to show that the notion of truth is highly paradoxical, perhaps even contradictory. They seem to show that the concept of truth is a bit akin to the concept of a married bachelor—it just makes no sense at all. But in order to really understand those paradoxes one needs to be very comfortable thinking about how lots of interesting (...) sentences talk about not dogs or cats or elections or baseball but sentences. That is, we need to get familiar analyzing sentences that talk about sentences. (shrink)
The semantic paradoxes, whose paradigm is the Liar, played a crucial role at a crucial juncture in the development of modern logic. In his 1908 seminal paper, Russell outlined a system, soon to become that of the Principia Mathematicae, whose main goal was the solution of the logical paradoxes, both semantic and settheoretic. Russell did not distinguish between the two and his theory of types was designed to solve both kinds in the same uniform way. Set theoreticians, however, were content (...) to treat only the set-theoretic paradoxes, putting aside the semantic ones as a non-mathematical concern. This separation was explicitly proposed, eighteen years after Russell’s paper, by Ramsey, though he, like Russell, advocated a system that addresses both kinds. Since then, the semantic paradoxes have been viewed within the perspective of the theory of truth, where they have occupied a respectable niche, but one of rather specialized interest. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss Künne’s Modest Theory of truth, and develop a variation on a worry that Field expresses with respect to Horwich’s related view. The worry is not that deflationary accounts are false, but rather that, because they take propositions as truth-bearers, they are not philosophically interesting. Compatibly with the intuitions of ordinary speakers, we can understand proposition so that the proposals do account for a property that such truth-bearers have. Nevertheless, we saliently apply the truth-concept also to (...) entities such as utterances or assertions , and the de flationary accounts do not provide a similarly deflationary account for those applications. In fact, there are good reasons to suspect that no such account would be forthcoming; we need something more substantive or in flationary there. (shrink)
Truth, falsity, and unity -- Sentences, lists, and collections -- Declarative and other kinds of sentence -- Declarative sentences and propositions -- Sentences, propositions, and truth-values -- Sentences, propositions, and unity -- Unity and complexity -- Reference and supposition -- Reference and signification -- Linguistic idealism and empirical realism -- Russell on truth, falsity, and unity (I) : 1903 -- Russell on truth, falsity, and unity (II) : 1910-13 -- Russell on truth, falsity, and unity (III) : 1918 -- Sense, (...) reference, and propositions -- Russellian propositions, Fregean thoughts, and facts -- The location of propositions -- Proper names, concept-expressions, and definite descriptions -- Concept-expressions and Carnapian intensions -- Carnapian intensions and understanding -- Carnapian intensions and Russellian propositions -- Russellian propositions and functionality -- A revised semantic map -- Sentences as referring expressions -- False propositions at the level of reference -- The world's own language -- Signification and supposition revisited -- Frege and Russell on unity -- Saturatedness and unsaturatedness -- The copula as secundum adiacens and as tertium adiacens -- Frege and the Copula -- The paradox of the concept horse -- Russell on unity and the paradox -- An unsuccessful attempt to avoid the paradox -- The paradox and the level of language -- Reforming Frege's treatment of concept-expressions -- Concepts and functions -- The reformed Frege : refinements and objections -- Frege, Russell, and the anti-fregean strategy -- The anti-fregean strategy : the case of names -- Disquotation and propositional form -- The context principle -- Prabhakara semantics and the related designation theory -- For that is not a word which is not the name of a thing -- The impartial strategy -- Secundum and tertium adiacens, matter and form -- The hierarchy of levels and the syntactic priority thesis -- Fregean and anti-fregean strategies -- The anti-fregean strategy and relations (I) -- Interlude: The subject--predicate distinction -- The anti-fregean strategy and relations (II) -- The reality of relations -- Polyadicity, monadicity, and identity -- The anti-fregean strategy and Montague grammar -- Fregean and anti-fregean strategies : further comparison -- Ramsey on the subject : predicate distinction -- Dummett's attack on the anti-fregean strategy -- Linguistic idealism revisited -- Alternative hierarchies and the context principle -- The linguistic hierarchy and categorial nonsense -- Logical syntax and the context principle -- Proper names, singular terms, and the identity test -- Proper names, Leibniz's law, and the identity of indiscernibles -- The negation asymmetry test -- Dummett's tests for singular termhood -- Discarding the syntactic priority thesis -- Logical predication, logical form, and Bradley's regress -- Names, verbs, and the replacement test -- Analysis and paradox -- Simple, complex, and logical predicates -- The grammatical copula and the logical copula -- Predication in Frege -- Two exegetical problems in Frege -- Inference and the logical predicate -- Unity and the logical predicate -- Bradley's regress and the tradition -- Russell and the general form of the proposition -- Wittgenstein's criticism of Russell -- Logical form in theTractatus -- Bradley's regress and the unity of the proposition -- The logical copula and theories of meaning -- Reference and the logical copula -- Bradley's regress and the analysis of meaning -- Vicious practical regresses -- Bradley's regress and the solution to the unity problem -- Propositions, sets, sums, and the objects themselves -- Bradley's regress and the infinite -- Vallicella's onto-theology -- A comparison with other innocent regresses -- Truth, falsity, and unity revisited -- Bradley's regress, realism, and states of affairs -- Unity and use -- The unity of sentences and the unity of complex names (I) -- The unity of sentences and the unity of complex names (II) -- Congruence, functionality, and propositional unity -- Davidson on predication -- Epilogue: The limits of language. (shrink)
(i) It is propositions, not sentences, that are true or false. It is true ‘Dogs bark’ does not make sense. It is true that dogs bark does. (ii) and (iii) Davidson wrong about ‘that’. (iv) The difference between ‘implies’ and ‘if ... then ...’. (v), (vi), (vii) and (viii) Russell, not Quine, right about the subject matter of logic. (ix) The objectual and substitutional interpretations of quantifiers compatible. (x), (xi), (xii), (xiii), (xiv), (xv) and (xvi) Implications for well-known theories of (...) truth; truth correspondence. (xvii), (xviii) and (xix) and (xx) Implications for the principle of bivalence, the law of excluded middle, and the principle of non-contradiction. (xxi) Recapitulation. (xxii) ‘That’ and entailment. (xxiii) Propositions not entities, subsistent or otherwise. Footnotes1 This article was stimulated by some remarks by J. J. C. Smart in criticism of a piece of work (God, Freedom and Immortality, Ashgate, 1999) that he was kind enough to read for me. I am greatly indebted to my friend David Rees for correcting the manuscript, and making some valuable suggestions concerning its content. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to show that in order to make sense of the ascription of truth and falsity to the things we say it is essential to acknowledge a divergence between two basic intuitions. According to one of them it is plausible to talk of what is said as what the speaker has in mind. According to the other it is plausible to talk of what is said as the bearer of truth or falsity. The paper presents (...) three cases in which these two intuitions seem not to coincide, and shows how this lack of coincidence can be accounted for in terms of underspecification. (shrink)
Simplicity made difficult Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-8 DOI 10.1007/s11098-010-9626-9 Authors John MacFarlane, Department of Philosophy, University of California, 314 Moses Hall #2390, Berkeley, CA 94720-2390, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
This takes a closer look at the actual semantic behavior of apparent truth predicates in English and re-evaluates the way they could motivate particular philosophical views regarding the formal status of 'truth predicates' and their semantics. The paper distinguishes two types of 'truth predicates' and proposes semantic analyses that better reflect the linguistic facts. These analyses match particular independently motivated philosophical views.
The paper goes into the intricate logical relation between imperatives, precepts and norms. It shows that there need not be two senses of "ought", the one descriptive and the other prescriptive, since when the law-giver enacts a fresh statute he is hereby making a tru statement, whose truth is grounded on the statement itself.
The aim of this paper is rather modest: we do not intend to reconstruct Aristotle’s theory of truth (although we are convinced that there is such a thing), and we will not try to settle the issue concerning Bivalence in Aristotle. We merely want, on the one hand, to argue for the consistency between the main Aristotelian texts on truth and a possible rejection of Bivalence; and on the other hand, to investigate the conditions of a possible counterexample to Bivalence. (...) The motivation for this research is also very specific. We are interested in the apparent violation of Bivalence introduced by vague predicates, and in particular we want to respond to a family of arguments put forward by T. Williamson in support of the idea that allowing for exceptions to Bivalence would be incoherent. We have focused on these arguments for two reasons. On the one hand, what is allegedly threatened by a denial of Bivalence is no less than the very “nature of truth or falsity”. On the other hand, Aristotle is explicitly mentioned as one of the defendants of this “natural” conception of truth, and we are reminded about the connection between Aristotle’s theory and Tarski’s semantic conception. These arguments, therefore, give us an occasion to explore Aristotle’s analysis of the nature of truth and falsity, and to examine its connection with the Tarskian conception of truth. In particular, we would like to question the assumption, which has become a commonplace in the field of analytical philosophy, that Aristotle’s notion of truth can be encoded in the pair of disquotational biconditionals that derive from Tarski’s “T schema”. (shrink)
. According to John Buridan, the time for which a statement is true is underdetermined by the grammatical form of the sentence – the intention of the speaker is required. As a consequence, truth-bearers are not sentence types, nor sentence tokens plus facts of the context of utterance, but statements. Statements are also the bearers of logical relations, since the latter can only be established among entities having determined truth-conditions. This role of the intention of the speaker in the determination (...) of what is said by an utterance is not isolated in medieval semantics. (shrink)
The aim of the paper is to formulate rules of inference for the predicate 'is true' applied to sentences. A distinction is recognised between (ordinary) truth and definite truth and consequently between two notions of validity, depending on whether truth or definite truth is the property preserved in valid arguments. Appropriate sets of rules of inference governing the two predicates are devised. In each case the consequence relation is in harmony with the respective predicate. Particularly appealing is a set of (...) ND rules for ordinary truth in which premises and assumptions play different roles, premises being taken to assert definite truth, assumptions to suppose truth. This set of rules can be said to capture everyday reasoning with truth. Also presented are formal characterisations, in the meta-language and in the object language, of paradoxical and 'truth teller'-like sentences. (shrink)
Section 1 discerns ambiguity in the word “truth”, observing that the term is used most naturally in reference to truth-bearers rather than truth-makers. Focusing on truths-as-truth-bearers, then, it would appear that alethic realism conflicts with metaphysical realism as naturalistically construed. Section 2 discerns ambiguity in the purporting of truth (as in assertion), conjecturing that all expressions, not just those found in traditionally recognized opaque contexts, can be read intensionally (as well, perhaps, as extensionally). For instance, we would not generally want (...) to say that “The Matterhorn is 4,500 m high” expresses the same truth as “The Matterhorn is 14763.7795276 feet high” (or that it is true in the same range of utterance contexts), even though the two are extensionally equivalent. The reason is that they express different intensions. (shrink)
Thesis: Such things as beliefs, statements, assertions, remarks, hypotheses, and theories are those things that are true or false . (Example: we do say such things as "Her belief that her mother had phoned was false." Or, "His assertion that Alberta is smaller than British Columbia is true.").
In this paper I consider two strategies for providing tenseless truth-conditions for tensed sentences: the token-reflexive theory and the date theory. Both theories have faced a number of objections by prominent A-theorists such as Quentin Smith and William Lane Craig. Traditionally, these two theories have been viewed as rival methods for providing truth-conditions for tensed sentences. I argue that the debate over whether the token-reflexive theory or the date theory is true has arisen from a failure to distinguish between conditions (...) for the truth of tensed tokens and conditions for the truth of propositions expressed by tensed tokens. I demonstrate that there is a true formulation of the token-reflexive theory that provides necessary and sufficient conditions for the truth of tensed tokens, and there is a true formulation of the date theory that provides necessary and sufficient conditions for the truth of propositions expressed by tensed tokens. I argue that once the views are properly formulated, the A-theorist’s objections fail to make their mark. However, I conclude by claiming that even though there is a true formulation of the token-reflexive theory and a true formulation of the date theory, the New B-theory nonetheless fails to provide a complete account of the truth and falsity of tensed sentences. (shrink)
This paper examines the potential for abstracting propositions – an as yet untested way of defending the realist thesis that propositions as abstract entities exist. I motivate why we should want to abstract propositions and make clear, by basing an account on the neo-Fregean programme in arithmetic, what ontological and epistemological advantages a realist can gain from this. I then raise a series of problems for the abstraction that ultimately have serious repercussions for realism about propositions in general. I first (...) identify problems about the number of entities able to be abstracted using these techniques. I then focus on how issues of language relativity result in problems akin to the Caesar problem in arithmetic by exposing circularity and modal concern over the status of the criterion of identity for propositions. (shrink)
A notion of truth as applicable to events of assertoric use ( utterances ) of a sentence token is arguably presupposed and required by our evaluative practices of the use of language. The truth of an utterance seems clearly to depend on what the utterance says . This fundamental dependence seems in turn to be captured by the schema that, if an utterance u says that P , then u is true iff P . Such a schema may thus be (...) thought to constitute a suitable basis for an adequate theory of utterance truth, so much so that it seems straightforwardly to avoid the problems arising from context dependence and the semantic paradoxes which notoriously beset theories of utterance truth based on a simple disquotational schema. The paper argues that appearances are deceptive in both cases. On the one hand, the schema cannot allow for plausible if not uncontroversial non-indexical forms of context dependence, arising from the possibility that what an utterance says can be the case or not relative to different situations and that the truth of an utterance u of a sentence φ arguably depends on the truth of φ at the situation "associated" with u . On the other hand, a quantified utterance-truth variation on the liar paradox shows that the schema entails some consequence φ and at the same time the untruth of any utterance of φ; moreover, a resilient quantified propositional variation on the contingent liar paradox is offered, which only relies on resources usually employed by theories of utterance truth based on the schema. (shrink)