Attributive uses of prosentences

Ratio 16 (1):1–15 (2003)
Defenders of the prosentential theory of truth claim that the English language contains prosentences which function analogously to their better known cousins – pronouns. Statements such as ‘That is true’ or ‘It is true’, they claim, inherit their content from antecedent statements, just as pronouns inherit their reference from antecedent singular terms. Prosentential theorists claim that the content of these prosentences is exhausted by the content of their antecedents. They then use the notion of the inheritance of content from an antecedent to explain the various functions of the predicate ‘. . . is true’. Defenders of the prosentential theory of truth are mistaken, I claim, in thinking that in order to oppose the view that ‘. . . is true’ is used to ascribe a substantive truth property to propositions they need to claim that no uses of ‘. . . is true’ ever attribute any property. I identify an ‘attributive’ use of prosentences in which reliability is implicitly attributed to a subject. I then use the capacity of prosentences to serve as implicit attributions of reliability as a basis for explicating the logical structure of explicit attributions of reliability. The identification of an attributive use of prosentences does not constitute a fundamental change in the prosentential theory.
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