An inconsistency approach to the liar and related paradoxes takes the non-logical principles involved in the derivation of the paradoxes to be constitutive of our concept of truth. That is, it is our very competence with the concept of truth that leads us to accept the non-logical premises or inferences involved in the derivation. One who endorses an approach of this type should not be content to diagnose the problem; rather, such a theorist should propose a way of changing our (...) conceptual scheme by introducing new concepts that do the work we ask of truth without giving rise to paradoxes. I offer a pair of concepts, ascending truth and descending truth, for this purpose. Here, I present a formal theory of ascending and descending truth (ADT), explore some of its features, and propose a semantics for it. I show how ADT avoids the liar paradox, Curry’s paradox, and Yablo’s paradox. Moreover, ADT is consistent, fully compatible with classical logic, and does not require any kind of expressive limitation, so it does not give rise to any revenge paradoxes. Finally, I compare ADT to some other views in the literature. (shrink)
The primary goals of this book, Replacing Truth, are to present and justify the view that truth is an inconsistent concept and to offer a pair of concepts that are to serve, for certain purposes, as replacements for truth. The positive proposal I offer is multi-faceted and does not fit neatly into established ways of classifying contemporary work on truth. For this reason, a substantial amount of stage setting is required. The book has three parts. Parts I and II present (...) both the background information and the conditions on acceptable theories that are needed to understand and appreciate the positive account of truth given in Part III. (shrink)
The primary goals of Replacing Truth are to present and justify the view that truth is an inconsistent concept and to offer a pair of concepts that are to serve, for certain purposes, as replacements for truth. The positive proposal I offer is multi-faceted and does not fit neatly into established ways of classifying contemporary work on truth. For this reason, a substantial amount of stage setting is required. The book has three parts. Parts I and II present both the (...) background information and the conditions on acceptable theories that are needed to understand and appreciate the positive account of truth given in Part III. (shrink)
The vast majority of approaches to the liar paradox generate new paradoxes that are structurally similar to the liar (often called revenge paradoxes). There is a complex group of issues surrounding revenge paradoxes, the expressive powers of natural languages, and the adequacy of approaches to the liar. My goal is to provide a precise framework against which these issues can be formulated and discussed. The centerpiece of this framework is the notion of internalizability: a semantic theory is internalizable for a (...) language if and only if there exists an extension of the language such that (i) the theory is expressible in that extended language, and (ii) the theory assigns meanings to all the relevant sentences of that extended language. The framework is applied to three examples from the literature: Reinhardt and McGee on theories that require expressively richer metalanguages, Field on revenge-immunity, and Gupta on semantic self-sufficiency. (shrink)
Those who endorse correspondence theories of truth or truthmaker maximalism accept that corresponding to the world (or having a truthmaker) is a necessary condition for being true. This condition has been criticized recently, but the arguments of these objections are unsound. Instead, I argue that by reflecting on the truthmakers for sentences containing ‘true’, we see that ‘every truth has a truthmaker’ has several unacceptable consequences, the most serious of which is that it is self-refuting. It follows that correspondence theories (...) of truth and truthmaker maximalism are unacceptable. (shrink)
As part of an approach to the liar paradox and the other paradoxes affecting truth, I have proposed replacing our concept of truth with two concepts: ascending truth and descending truth.1 I am not going to discuss why I think this is the best approach or how it solves the paradoxes; instead, I concentrate on the theory of ascending and descending truth. I formulate an axiomatic theory of ascending truth and descending truth (ADT) and provide a possible-worlds semantics for it (...) (which I dub xeno semantics). Xeno semantics is a generalization of the familiar neighborhood semantics, which itself is a generalization of the standard relational semantics. Once the details of ADT have been presented, it is easy to show that neither relational semantics nor neighborhood semantics will work for it; thus, the move to a more general framework is required. The main result is a fixed point theorem that guarantees the existence of an acceptable first-order constant-domain xeno model. From this result it follows that ADT is sound with respect to the class of such models. The upshot is that ADT is consistent relative to the background set theory. (shrink)
This chapter covers some of Robert Brandom’s contributions to our understanding of communication. Topics discussed include his theory of discursive practice, his inferential semantics, his scorekeeping pragmatics, his views on the “transmission” model of communication, and his semantic perspectivism. I compare his scorekeeping pragmatic theory to other kinds of pragmatic theories, and I argue that his semantic perspectivism can be understood as a global indexical relativism.
The work of Kripke, Putnam, Kaplan, and others initiated a tradition in philosophy that has come to be known as anti-descriptivism. I argue that when properly interpreted, Wilfrid Sellars is a staunch anti-descriptivist. Not only does he accept most of the conclusions drawn by the more famous anti-descriptivists, he goes beyond their critiques to reject the fundamental tenant of descriptivism—that understanding a linguistic expression consists in mentally grasping its meaning and associating that meaning with the expression. I show that Sellars’ (...) alternative accounts of language and the mind provide novel justifications for the anti-descriptivists’ conclusions. Finally, I present what I take to be a Sellarsian analysis of an important anti-descriptivist issue: the relation between metaphysical modal notions (e.g., possibility) and epistemic modal notions (e.g., conceivability). The account I present involves extension of the strategy he uses to explain both the relation between physical object concepts (e.g., whiteness) and sensation concepts (e.g., the appearance of whiteness), and the relation between concepts that apply to linguistic activity (e.g., sentential meaning) and those that apply to conceptual activity (e.g., thought content). (shrink)
This essay proposes a theory of the nature and logic of truth on which truth is an inconsistent concept that should be replaced for certain theoretical purposes. The paradoxes associated with truth (for example, the liar) and the pattern of failures in our attempts to deal with them suggest that truth is an inconsistent concept. The first part of the essay describes a pair of replacement concepts, which the essay dubs ascending truth and descending truth, along with an axiomatic theory (...) of them and an empirical interpretation of the theory. The essay shows how to use these replacements in a familiar truth-conditional semantics as well. The second part of the essay offers a descriptive theory of our natural language truth predicate that takes it to be assessment sensitive, which means that it has the same content in every context of utterance, but its extension (that is, the set of things that are true) depends on a context of assessment. Contexts of assessment model situations in which a person interprets someone's utterance. From different contexts of assessment, the truth predicate has different extensions. The descriptive theory employs the concepts of ascending truth and descending truth, and they determine how the extension of the truth predicate varies across contexts of assessment. This assessment-sensitive theory of truth solves the liar and other paradoxes, it is compatible with classical logic and all the expressive resources we have in natural language, and it does not give rise to any new paradoxes. (shrink)
On Richard’s When Truth Gives Out Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-9 DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9796-0 Authors Kevin Scharp, Department of Philosophy, The Ohio State University, 350 University Hall, 230 North Oval Mall, Columbus, OH 43210, USA Stewart Shapiro, Department of Philosophy, The Ohio State University, 350 University Hall, 230 North Oval Mall, Columbus, OH 43210, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
Although there is a massive amount of work on truth, there is very little work on falsity. Most philosophers probably think this is appropriate; after all, once we have a solid understanding of truth, falsity should not prove to be much of a challenge. However, there are several interesting and difficult issues associated with understanding falsity. After considering two prominent definitions of falsity and presenting objections to each one, I propose a definition that avoids their problems.
Hartry Field’s book, Saving Truth from Paradox, is without question among the best works on truth and the liar paradox in the analytic tradition—it should become the standard reference on the liar paradox for years to come. Field offers lucid, technically accurate, but accessible discussions of most of the approaches to the liar paradox that are currently being debated in the literature. He also defends his favored approach, which requires a change from classical to paracomplete logic. After a brief flirtation (...) with dialetheism around the turn of the century, he now offers a novel, powerful, and technically dazzling way of dealing with the liar paradox to accompany his influential version of disquotationalism.2 Together they provide a unified view of the nature and logic of truth.3 Field’s solution to the liar together with his fair and charitable discussion of the alternatives make this book required reading by anyone remotely interested in issues associated with truth, philosophical logic, and philosophy of language. The book covers much the same ground as several of Field’s recent papers on the liar paradox4, but this is not a collection; instead, Field has written the book from scratch in a way that informs the.. (shrink)
Robert Brandom claims that the theory of meaning he presents in Making It Explicit is expressively complete—i.e., it successfully applies to the language in which the theory of meaning is formulated. He also endorses a broadly Kripkean approach to the liar paradox. I show that these two commitments are incompatible, and I survey several options for resolving the problem.
Those concerned with Locke’s Essay have largely ignored his account of reflection. I present and defend an interpretation of Locke’s theory of reflection on which reflection is not a variety of introspection; rather, for Locke, we acquire ideas of our mental operations indirectly. Furthermore, reflection is involuntary and distinct from consciousness. The interpretation I present also explains reflection’s role in the acquisition of non-sensory ideas (e.g., ideas of pleasure, existence, succession, etc.). I situate this reading within the secondary literature on (...) reflection and discuss its consequences for interpretations of Locke’s views on empiricism, knowledge, and personal identity. -/- -/- . (shrink)
Thinking about truth can be more dangerous than it looks. Of course, our concept of truth is the source of one of the most frustrating and impenetrable paradoxes humans have ever contemplated, the liar paradox, but that is just the beginning of its treachery. In an effort to understand why one of the most beloved and revered members of our conceptual repertoire could cause us so much trouble, philosophers have for centuries proposed “solutions” to the liar paradox. However, it seems (...) that our concept of truth takes offense to our efforts to understand it because it appears to retaliate against those who propose “solutions” to the liar. It takes its revenge on us by creating new paradoxes from our own attempts to find resolution. That is, most proposed solutions to the liar paradox give rise to new, more insidious paradoxes—often called revenge paradoxes. For our attempts at understanding, truth rewards us with inconsistent theories, untenable logics, and a deep feeling of bewilderment. It is as if our concept of truth lashes out at us because it wants to remain a mystery. After a few run-ins with truth, many philosophers have the good sense to keep their distance. Far from being the serene, profound concept most people take it to be, those of us who think much about the liar paradox know truth to be a vengeful bully—a conceptual misanthrope. (shrink)
Of the dozens of purported solutions to the liar paradox published in the past fifty years, the vast majority are "traditional" in the sense that they reject one of the premises or inference rules that are used to derive the paradoxical conclusion. Over the years, however, several philosophers have developed an alternative to the traditional approaches; according to them, our very competence with the concept of truth leads us to accept that the reasoning used to derive the paradox is sound. (...) That is, our conceptual competence leads us into inconsistency. I call this alternative the inconsistency approach to the liar. Although this approach has many positive features, I argue that several of the well-developed versions of it that have appeared recently are unacceptable. In particular, they do not recognize that if truth is an inconsistent concept, then we should replace it with new concepts that do the work of truth without giving rise to paradoxes. I outline an inconsistency approach to the liar paradox that satisfies this condition. (shrink)
One common criticism of deflationism is that it does not have the resources to explain defective discourse (e.g., vagueness, referential indeterminacy, confusion, etc.). This problem is especially pressing for someone like Robert Brandom, who not only endorses deflationist accounts of truth, reference, and predication, but also refuses to use representational relations to explain content and propositional attitudes. To address this problem, I suggest that Brandom should explain defective discourse in terms of what it is to treat some portion of discourse (...) as defective. To illustrate this strategy, I present an extension of his theory of content and use it to provide an explanation of confusion. The result is a theory of confusion based on Joseph Camp’s recent treatment. The extension of Brandom’s theory of content involves additions to his account of scorekeeping that allow members of a discursive practice to accept different standards of inferential correctness. (shrink)
The recent exchange between Robert Brandom and Jürgen Habermas provides an opportunity to compare and contrast some aspects of their systems. Both present broadly inferential accounts of meaning, according to which the content of an expression is determined by its role in an inferential network. Several problems confront such theories of meaning - one of which threatens the possibility of communication because content is relative to an individual's set of beliefs. Brandom acknowledges this problem and provides a solution to it. (...) The point of this paper is to argue that it arises for Habermas's theory as well. I then present several solutions Habermas could adopt and evaluate their feasibility. The result is that Habermas must alter his theory of communicative action by contextualizing the standards for successful communication. (shrink)