My target in this paper is a view that has sometimes been called the ‘Linguistic Doctrine of Necessary Truth’ (L-DONT) and sometimes ‘Conventionalism about Necessity’. It is the view that necessity is grounded in the meanings of our expressions—meanings which are sometimes identified with the conventions governing those expressions—and that our knowledge of that necessity is based on our knowledge of those meanings or conventions. In its simplest form the view states that a truth, if it is (...) necessary, is necessary (and knowably necessary) because it is analytic. It is widely recognized that this simple version of the view faces a prima facie problem with the existence of the necessary a posteriori. Assuming that all analytic truths are a priori, if there are necessary a posteriori truths then there are necessary synthetic truths—contradicting the view’s claim that all necessary truths are analytic. Contemporary L-DONTers have things to say about the problem, but in this paper I want to suggest that there is a different, more serious, problem which arises from the phenomenon of indexicality, which L-DONTers have not taken account of. Though there are many versions of the problem, a simple one is this. Consider Kaplan’s celebrated sentence. (shrink)
Many linguists and philosophers of language explain linguistic meaning in terms of truth conditions. This book focuses on the meanings of expressions that escape such truth-conditional treatment, in particular the concessives: but , even if , and although . Corinne Iten proposes semantic analyses of these expressions based on the cognitive framework of relevance theory. A thoroughly cognitive approach to linguistic meaning is presented in which linguistic forms are seen as mapping onto mental entities, rather (...) than individuals and properties in the real world. Researchers and advanced students in pragmatics will find this account lucid, clear and accessible. (shrink)
The present article purports to show that the protocol sentence debate, pursued by some leading members of the Vienna Circle in the mid-1930s, was essentially a controversy over the explanation and the real significance of the concept of truth. It is further shown that the fundamental issue underlying the discussions about the concept of truth was the relationship between form and content, as well as between logic/language and the world. R. Carnap was the philosopher who most explicitly and (...) systematically attempted to come to grips with this problem. It is shown that the form-content distinction pervades the three most important phases of Carnap's philosophical development: the structuralist (in Der logische Aufbau der Welt), the syntactical and the semantical. His final semantical stance is essentially determined by the concept of linguistic frameworks. The article purports to demonstrate that this concept cannot be dispensed with in philosophy, but that Carnap failed to work out its ontological implications. Finally, the concept of an internal ontology is briefly delineated. (shrink)
Linguistic Behaviorism (Place, 1996) is an attempt to reclaim for the behaviorist perspective two disciplines, linguistics and linguistic philosophy, most of whose practitioners have been persuaded by Chomsky's (1959) Review of B. F. Skinner's (1957) "Verbal Behavior" that behaviorism has nothing useful to contribute to the study of language. It takes as axiomatic (a) that the functional unit of language is the sentence, and (b) that sentences are seldom repeated word-for-word, but are constructed anew on each occasion of (...) utterance out of units, words, phrases and turns of phrase, that are repeated. On this view, the problem of discriminating the true from the false arises from the use of novel declarative sentences (statements) to depict or, to use Skinner's term, "specify" contingencies the like of which the listener need never have encountered and to which he would otherwise have no access. In such cases the listener needs to distinguish among the sentences he receives from other speakers between those where the situation depicted/specified corresponds to that which actually exists at the time and place specified in the sentence and are, therefore, true, and those to which no actual situation corresponds and which are, therefore, false. (shrink)
This innovative collection addresses such themes as: the relation between the concept of truth and the success conditions of assertions and kindred speech acts the linguistic devices of expressing the truth of a proposition the relation ...
This innovative collection addresses such themes as: the relation between the concept of truth and the success conditions of assertions and kindred speech acts the linguistic devices of expressing the truth of a proposition the relation ...
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.
This book is an inquiry into the philosophical concern with truth as one joint subject in philosophy of language and metaphysics and presents a theory of truth, substantive perspectivism (SP). Emphasizing our basic pre-theoretic understanding of truth (i.e., what is captured by the axiomatic thesis of truth that the nature of truth consists in capturing the way things are), and in the deflationism vs. substantivism debate background, SP argues for the substantive nature of non-linguistic (...)truth and its notion’s indispensable substantive explanatory role, both of which are not only intrinsically beyond what the linguistic function of the truth predicate can tell but are fundamentally related to the raison d’être of the truth predicate. Taking a holistic approach, SP endeavors to do justice to various reasonable perspectives, which are somehow contained in many competing accounts of truth, through a coordinate system: SP interprets such perspectives as distinct but related perspective-elaboration principles that distinctively (regarding distinct dimensions of the truth concern and/or for the sake of distinct purposes) elaborate, but are also unified by, the truth axiom thesis. To look at the issue from a broader vision, the book also takes a cross-tradition approach exploring the relationship between Daoist thinking of truth and thinking about truth in analytic philosophy.This book will enhance our systematic understanding of the issue through its holistic approach, broaden our vision on the issue via its cross-tradition approach, and enrich the conceptual and explanatory resources in treating the issue. (shrink)
Since the famous debate between Russell (Mind 14: 479–493, 1905, Mind 66: 385–389, 1957) and Strawson (Mind 59: 320–344, 1950; Introduction to logical theory, 1952; Theoria, 30: 96–118, 1964) linguistic intuitions about truth values have been considered notoriously unreliable as a guide to the semantics of definite descriptions. As a result, most existing semantic analyses of definites leave a large number of intuitions unexplained. In this paper, I explore the nature of the relationship between truth value intuitions (...) and non-referring definites. Inspired by comments in Strawson (Introduction to logical theory, 1964), I argue that given certain systematic considerations, one can provide a structured explanation of conflicting intuitions. I show that the intuitions of falsity, which proponents of a Russellian analysis often appeal to, result from evaluating sentences in relation to specific questions in context. This is shown by developing a method for predicting when sentences containing non-referring definites elicit intuitions of falsity. My proposed analysis draws importantly on Roberts (in: Yoon & Kathol (eds.) OSU working papers in Linguistics: vol. 49: Papers in Semantics 1998; in: Horn & Ward (eds.) Handbook of pragmatics, 2004) and recent research in the semantics and pragmatics of focus. (shrink)
Now in a new edition, this volume updates Davidson's exceptional Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation (1984), which set out his enormously influential philosophy of language. The original volume remains a central point of reference, and a focus of controversy, with its impact extending into linguistic theory, philosophy of mind, and epistemology. Addressing a central question--what it is for words to mean what they do--and featuring a previously uncollected, additional essay, this work will appeal to a wide audience of (...) philosophers, linguists, and psychologists. (shrink)
It is almost universally presumed that knowledge is factive: in order to know that p it must be the case that p is true. This idea is often justified by appealing to knowledge ascriptions and related linguistic phenomena; i.e., an utterance of the form ‘S knows that p, but not-p’ sounds contradictory. In a recent article, Allan Hazlett argues that our ordinary concept of knowledge is not factive. From this it seems to follow that epistemologists cannot appeal to ordinary (...) language to justify the truth condition of knowledge. More significantly, Hazlett claims that epistemologists theorizing about knowledge should not concern themselves with the ordinary concept of knowledge as revealed by knowledge ascriptions and related linguistic phenomena. My paper has two goals: first, to defend the orthodox view that the ordinary concept of knowledge is factive; second, to undermine Hazlett’s claim that epistemologists should not theorize about knowledge on the basis of how ‘knows’ is used in everyday speech. (shrink)
The starting point of this paper concerns the apparent difference between what we might call absolute truth and truth in a model, following Donald Davidson. The notion of absolute truth is the one familiar from Tarski’s T-schema: ‘Snow is white’ is true if and only if snow is white. Instead of being a property of sentences as absolute truth appears to be, truth in a model, that is relative truth, is evaluated in terms of (...) the relation between sentences and models. -/- I wish to examine the apparent dual nature of logical truth (without dwelling on Davidson), and suggest that we are dealing with a distinction between a metaphysical and a linguistic interpretation of truth. I take my cue from John Etchemendy, who suggests that absolute truth could be considered as being equivalent to truth in the ‘right model’, i.e., the model that corresponds with the world. However, the notion of ‘model’ is not entirely appropriate here as it is closely associated with relative truth. Instead, I propose that the metaphysical interpretation of truth may be illustrated in modal terms, by metaphysical modality in particular. One of the tasks that I will undertake in this paper is to develop this modal interpretation, partly building on my previous work on the metaphysical interpretation of the law of non-contradiction (Tahko 2009). -/- After an explication of the metaphysical interpretation of logical truth, a brief study of how this interpretation connects with some recent important themes in philosophical logic follows. In particular, I discuss logical pluralism and propose an understanding of pluralism from the point of view of the metaphysical interpretation. (shrink)
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)
What is the appropriate notion of truth for sentences whose meanings are understood in epistemic terms such as proof or ground for an assertion? It seems that the truth of such sentences has to be identified with the existence of proofs or grounds, and the main issue is whether this existence is to be understood in a temporal sense as meaning that we have actually found a proof or a ground, or if it could be taken in an (...) abstract, tenseless sense. Would the latter alternative amount to realism with respect to proofs or grounds in a way that would be contrary to the supposedly anti-realistic standpoint underlying the epistemic understanding of linguistic expressions? Before discussing this question, I shall consider reasons for construing linguistic meaning epistemically and relations between such reasons and reasons for taking an anti-realist point of view towards the discourse in question. (shrink)
This book expounds and defends a new conception of the relation between truth and meaning. Atlas argues that the sense of a sense-general sentence radically underdetermines (independently of indexicality) its truth-conditional content. He applies this linguistic analysis to illuminate old and new philosophical problems of meaning, truth, falsity, negation, existence, presupposition, and implicature. In particular, he demonstrates how the concept of ambiguity has been misused and confused with other concepts of meaning, and how the interface between (...) semantics and pragmatics has been misunderstood. The problems he tackles are common to philosophy, linguistics, cognitive psychology, and artificial intelligence, and his conclusions will be of interest to all those working in these fields. (shrink)
In The Truth in Painting , Derrida insists that Heidegger's treatment of “a famous picture by Van Gogh” marks “a moment of pathetic collapse.” While we would agree, we would insist that this example does not render Heidegger's entire philosophy of art suspect. Instead, if his reading of Van Gogh's painting is “derisory and symptomatic,” it is nonetheless “significant,” if only insofar as it provides an indication of Heidegger's underestimation of the plastic arts in favor of the elevation of (...) poetry—an underestimation that may be corrected in light of what we might regard as his true philosophy of art. Our aim, then, is to see (with some help from Derrida) what Heidegger could have seen in looking at Van Gogh's Old Shoes were the work not reduced to an illustration in a presentation whose destination is poetry, not painting. What, in other words, would Van Gogh's painting look like were we to view it in light of “The Origin of the Work of Art,” assuming that the latter does not require insistence on the priority of linguistic work but on the creation of a truth that belongs to the Earth, in the case in point, as the ground of painting? (shrink)
Focusing on Truth explores the question of what truth is, balancing historical with issue-orientated discussion. The book offers a comprehensive survey of all the major theories of truth. Lawrence Johnson investigates a number of closely related matters of truth in his inquiry, such as: What sorts of things are true or false? What is attributed to them when they are said to be true or false? What do facts have to do with truth? What can (...) we learn from previous theories? The book opens with an analysis of the coherence theory of truth and then the correspondence theory of truth, as developed by Moore, Russell and Wittgenstein. Through a study of the semantic conceptions of truth, the author reveals that an adequate theory of truth must take account of the pragmatics of person, purpose, and circumstance. A full understanding of facts and truth bearers is considered central to Johnson's criticism of the opposing truth theories of J. L. Austin and P. F. Strawson. Drawing on the merits of these theories and others, while identifying their deficiencies, Johnson presents a new account of truth, based on the correlation of referential foci and the use of linguistic conventions. This account is defended as being adequate to meet the legitimate demands made on a theory of truth. Johnson argues that the account leaves scope for statements of many different sorts to be true in their own widely varying ways, without the existence of a need to posit fundamentally different kinds of truth. (shrink)
Jamin Asay's book offers a fresh and daring perspective on the age-old question 'What is truth?', with a comprehensive articulation and defence of primitivism, the view that truth is a fundamental and indefinable concept. Often associated with Frege and the early Russell and Moore, primitivism has been largely absent from the larger conversation surrounding the nature of truth. Asay defends primitivism by drawing on a range of arguments from metaphysics, philosophy of language and philosophy of logic, and (...) navigates between correspondence theory and deflationism by reviving analytic philosophy's first theory of truth. In its exploration of the role that truth plays in our cognitive and linguistic lives, The Primitivist Theory of Truth offers an account of not just the nature of truth, but the foundational role that truth plays in our conceptual scheme. It will be valuable for students and scholars of philosophy of language and of metaphysics. (shrink)
Philosophers are interested in a constellation of issues involving the concept of truth. A preliminary issue, although somewhat subsidiary, is to decide what sorts of things can be true. Is truth a property of sentences (which are linguistic entities in some language or other), or is truth a property of propositions (nonlinguistic, abstract and timeless entities)? The principal issue is: What is truth? It is the problem of being clear about what you are saying when (...) you say some claim or other is true. The most important theories of truth are the Correspondence Theory, the Semantic Theory, the Deflationary Theory, the Coherence Theory, and the Pragmatic Theory. They are explained and compared here. Whichever theory of truth is advanced to settle the principal issue, there are a number of additional issues to be addressed: i. Can claims about the future be true now? ii. Can there be some algorithm for finding truth – some recipe or procedure for deciding, for any claim in the system of, say, arithmetic, whether the claim is true? iii. Can the predicate “is true” be completely defined in other terms so that it can be eliminated, without loss of meaning, from any context in which it occurs? iv. To what extent do theories of truth avoid paradox? v. Is the goal of scientific research to achieve truth? Table of Contents.. (shrink)
This book compares John Searle and Michel Foucault's radically opposed views on truth in order to demonstrate the need for invigorating cross-fertilization between the analytic and Continental philosophical traditions. By pressing beyond familiar cliche;s about analytic philosophy and postmodernism, a surprising convergence of Searle and Foucault's thought on truth emerge. The analytic impression of Foucault is of a radical relativist whose views on truth entail linguistic idealism. Searle himself has contributed to this impression through his aggressive (...) critique of postmodern thinkers, especially Derrida. Prado lays this misperception to rest, showing analytic philosophers that Foucault's ideas about truth are defensible and merit serious attention, while also demonstrating to Continental philosophers that Searle's cannot be ignored. (shrink)
In his intellectual autobiography, P. F. Strawson singles out one particular truism as fundamental to his entire philosophical career. The deceptively simple truth is twofold: first, that the bearers of truth and falsity are not linguistic elements, and second, that what is at stake in our use of language is not the words that we use, but what we mean them to say. This essay, written as a tribute to the late Strawson, explores the theoretical implications of (...) this self-evident truth, which emphasizes the essential aim of communication in our understanding of language, as it applies to the problem of meaning, truth and abstract entities. (shrink)
In this scholarly but non-technical book, Campbell elucidates the concept of truth by tracing its history, from the ancient Greek idea that truth is timeless, unchanging, and free from all relativism, through the seventeenth-century crisis which led to the collapse of that idea, and then on through the emergence of historical consciousness to the existentialist, sociological, and linguistic approaches of our own time. He gives a scholarly but vivid and economical exposition of the views of a remarkably (...) wide range of thinkers, always showing how their ideas engage with our contemporary concerns. He argues that current problems with truth arise from the way differing past conceptions continue to resound in our contemporary use of the word, and suggests that we must formulate a new conception of truth that is compatible with awareness that human existence is finite and contingent--with awareness of our own historicity. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: -- Preface -- Introduction: Truth in Trouble -- The Linguistic Conception of Truth -- The Functions Truth Serves -- Truth in Action -- Acting Truly -- The Genesis of Representations -- Acts of Assertion -- The Truth of Statements -- The Challenge of Sceptical Relativism -- Truth as Faithfulness -- Bibliography -- Index.
Beginning from a definition of philosophical discourse which states the necessity of rhetoric meant as the whole of the linguistic devices aiming to persuade the interlocutor of truth and justice, the author points out that Pascal's text would be an outstanding example of such a discourse, while showing, nevertheless, the specificity of the rhetoric he employs. Such a specificity would aim to carry out a complex logic of the secret, concerning chiefly the ackowledgement and identification procedures of the (...) subject of the discourse-enunciation, and its pronominal and nominal markers.The author studies this logic on one hand by starting from the pragmatic patterns developed by the linguistics of enunciation, and on the other taking into account the philosophical, ethical and religious themes of the Jansenist thought in the XVIIth century. The distinction between concealment and secret leads the author to set up the forms of political rhetoric against the actual Pascalian aspects of philosophical rhetoric. Such a logic of the secret, which is the projection of the hidden God teologema into the field of philosophical discourse, would enable us to position as “absent” the subject producing this discourse and thus to transform what he states into a discourse of truth and justice. The very careful examination of the anonymity strategies and mostly of the writing tactics concerning the author's real name (anagram) would seem to confirm this conception of the rhetoric of Pascal's philosophical discourse. (shrink)
Philosophers have met with many problems in discussing the interconnected concepts being, identity, and truth, and have advanced many theories to deal with them. Williams argues that most of these problems and theories result from an inadequate appreciation of the ways in which the words "be," "same," and "true" work. By means of linguistic analysis he shows that being and truth are not properties, and identity is not a relation. He is thus able to demystify a number (...) of metaphysical issues concerning the meaning of the word "I," the relation between the mental and the physical, objects of thought, times and places, and the nature of reality. Williams presents his views clearly, with a minimum of technicality, and with rich and apt examples, so that they will be accessible to readers not versed in symbolic logic. (shrink)
Charles Travis presents a series of essays in which he has developed his distinctive view of the relation of thought to language. The key idea is "occasion-sensitivity": what it is for words to express a given concept is for them to be apt for contributing to any of many different conditions of correctness (notably truth conditions). Since words mean what they do by expressing a given concept, it follows that meaning does not determine truth conditions. This view ties (...) thoughts less tightly to the linguistic forms which express them than traditional views of the matter, and in two directions: a given linguistic form, meaning fixed, may express an indefinite variety of thoughts; one thought can be expressed in an indefinite number of syntactically and semantically distinct ways. Travis highlights the importance of this view for linguistic theory, and shows how it gives new form to a variety of traditional philosophical problems. (shrink)
During contractual negotiations, one party may lead the other into error, thus causing loss or damage. If misrepresentation is shown, the aggrieved party may therefore claim for damages or rescission. In the English law, it was for many years unclear whether a finding of misrepresentation required proof of deliberate, intentional fraud, or whether it could be analysed as a simple failure of consensus, in which case it would be sufficient to show negligence. According to the traditional rule, the misleading declaration (...) had to be factually false, and concern an existing state of affairs or a verifiable past event. However, expressions of personal opinion or of future intention can mislead, although they cannot sensibly be considered as true or false. Further, in practice, many literally true sentences are liable to give false impressions. Such statements may be ambiguous or only partly true. Like linguists and ethical philosophers, the judges are confronted with recursive problems of understanding and re-interpretation. Citations from a number of celebrated English cases are given to show that in spite of significant developments, no legal rules or principles can satisfactorily account for intuitions concerning intentional behaviour and morality. (shrink)
This paper offers a critique of mainstream formal semantics. It begins with a statement of widely assumed adequacy conditions: namely, that a good theory must (1) explain relations of entailment, (ii) show how the meanings of complex expressions derive from the meanings of their parts, and (iii) characterize facts of meaning in truth-theoretic terms. It then proceeds to criticize the orthodox conception of semantics that is articulated in these three desiderata. This critique is followed by a sketch of an (...) alternative conception—one that is argued to be more in tune with the empirical objectives of linguistics and the clarificatory aims of philosophy. Finally, the paper proposes and defends a specific theoretical approach—use based rather than truth based—that is suggested by that alternative conception. (shrink)
In this paper, I take issue with an idea that has emerged from recent relativist proposals, and, in particular, from Lasersohn (Linguistics and Philosophy 28: 643–686, 2005), according to which the correct semantics for taste predicates must use contents that are functions of a judge parameter (in addition to a possible world parameter) rather than implicit arguments lexically associated with such predicates. I argue that the relativist account and the contextualist implicit argument-account are, from the viewpoint of semantics, not much (...) more than notational variants of one another. In other words, given any sentence containing a taste predicate, and given any assignment of values to the relevant parameters, the two accounts predict the same truth value and are, in that sense, equivalent. I also look at possible reasons for preferring one account over the other. The phenomenon of “faultless disagreement” (cf. Kölbel, Truth without objectivity, 2002) is often believed to be one such reason. I argue, against Kölbel and Lasersohn, that disagreement is never faultless: either the two parties genuinely disagree, hence if the one is right then the other is wrong, or the two parties are both right, but their apparent disagreement boils down to a misunderstanding. What is more, even if there were faultless disagreement, I argue that relativism would fail to account for it. The upshot of my paper, then, is to show that there is not much disagreement between a contextualist account that models the judge parameter as an implicit argument to the taste predicate, and a relativist account that models it as a parameter of the circumstances of evaluation. The choice between the two accounts, at least when talking about taste, is thus, to a large extent, a matter of taste. (shrink)
The setting of relativistic ideas about truth in the general style of semantic-theoretic apparatus pioneered by Lewis, Kaplan and others has persuaded many that they should at least be taken seriously as competition in the space of explanatory linguistic theory, a type of view which properly formulated, may offer an at least coherent — and indeed, in the view of some, a superior —account of certain salient linguistic data manifest in, for example, discourse about epistemic modals, about (...) knowledge and about matters of taste and value, and may also offer the prospect of a coherent regimentation of the Aristotelian "Open Future" (along with, perhaps, the Dummettian ’anti-real’ past.) My main purpose here to enter a reminder of certain underlying philosophical issues about relativism — about its metaphysical coherence, its metasemantic obligations, and the apparent limitations of the kind of local linguistic evidence which contemporary proponents have adduced in its favour —of which there is a risk that its apparent rehabilitation in rigorous semantic dress may encourage neglect. (shrink)
Most people working on linguistic meaning or communication assume that semantics and pragmatics are distinct domains, yet there is still little consensus on how the distinction is to be drawn. The position defended in this paper is that the semantics/pragmatics distinction holds between (context-invariant) encoded linguistic meaning and speaker meaning. Two other ‘minimalist’ positions on semantics are explored and found wanting: Kent Bach’s view that there is a narrow semantic notion of context which is responsible for providing semantic (...) values for a small number of indexicals, and Herman Cappelen and Ernie Lepore’s view that semantics includes the provision of values for all indexicals, even though these depend on the speaker’s communicative intentions. Finally, some implications are considered for the favoured semantics/pragmatics distinction of the fact that there are linguistic elements (lexical and syntactic) which do not contribute to truth-conditional content but rather provide guidance on pragmatic inference. (shrink)
When talking about truth, we ordinarily take ourselves to be talking about one-and-the-same thing. Alethic monists suggest that theorizing about truth ought to begin with this default or pre-reflective stance, and, subsequently, parlay it into a set of theoretical principles that are aptly summarized by the thesis that truth is one. Foremost among them is the invariance principle.
The paper criticizes epistemological conceptions of analytic or conceptual truth, on which assent to such truths is a necessary condition of understanding them. The critique involves no Quinean scepticism about meaning. Rather, even granted that a paradigmatic candidate for analyticity is synonymy with a logical truth, both the former and the latter can be intelligibly doubted by linguistically competent deviant logicians, who, although mistaken, still constitute counterexamples to the claim that assent is necessary for understanding. There are no (...) analytic or conceptual truths in the epistemological sense. The critique is extended to purportedly analytic inference rules. An alternative account is sketched on which understanding a word is a matter of participation in a linguistic practice, while synonymy and concept identity consist in sameness of truth-conditional semantic properties. Although there are philosophical questions about concepts, the idea that philosophical questions in general are conceptual questions generates only an illusion of insight into philosophical methodology. (shrink)
Attention to the conversational role of alethic terms seems to dominate, and even sometimes exhaust, many contemporary analyses of the nature of truth. Yet, because truth plays a role in judgment and assertion regardless of whether alethic terms are expressly used, such analyses cannot be comprehensive or fully adequate. A more general analysis of the nature of truth is therefore required – one which continues to explain the significance of truth independently of the role alethic terms (...) play in discourse. We undertake such an analysis in this paper; in particular, we start with certain elements from Kant and Frege, and develop a construct of truth as a normative modality of cognitive acts (e.g., thought, judgment, assertion). Using the various biconditional T-schemas to sanction the general passage from assertions to (equivalent) assertions of truth, we then suggest that an illocutionary analysis of truth can contribute to its locutionary analysis as well, including the analysis of diverse constructions involving alethic terms that have been largely overlooked in the philosophical literature. Finally, we briefly indicate the importance of distinguishing between alethic and epistemic modalities. (shrink)
My topic is the attempt by Donald Davidson, and those inspired by him, to explain knowledge of meaning in terms of knowledge of truth conditions. For Davidsonians, these attempts take the form of rationales for treating theories of truth, constructed along Tarskian lines, as empirical theories of meaning. In earlier work1, I argued that Davidson’s two main rationales – one presented in “Truth and Meaning”2 and “Radical Interpretation,”3 and the other in his “Reply to Foster”4 – (...) were unsuccessful. Here, I extend my critique to cover an ingenious recent attempt by James Higginbotham to establish Davidson’s desired result. I will argue that it, too, fails, and that the trajectory of Davidsonian failures indicates that linguistic understanding, and knowledge of meaning, require more than knowledge of that which a Davidsonian truth theory provides. I begin with a look at the historical record. (shrink)
Over the last three decades, truth-condition theories have earned a central place in the study of linguistic meaning. But their honored position faces a threat from recent deflationism or minimalism about truth. It is thought that the appeal to truth-conditions in a theory of meaning is incompatible with deflationism about truth, and so the growing popularity of deflationism threatens truth-condition theories of meaning.
According to the standard story (a) W. V. Quine’s criticisms of the idea that logic is true by convention are directed against, and completely undermine, Rudolf Carnap’s idea that the logical truths of a language L are the sentences of L that are true-in- L solely in virtue of the linguistic conventions for L , and (b) Quine himself had no interest in or use for any notion of truth by convention. This paper argues that (a) and (b) (...) are both false. Carnap did not endorse any truth-by-convention theses that are undermined by Quine’s technical observations. Quine knew this. Quine’s criticisms of the thesis that logic is true by convention are not directed against a truth-by-convention thesis that Carnap actually held, but are part of Quine’s own project of articulating the consequences of his scientific naturalism. Quine found that logic is not true by convention in any naturalistically acceptable sense. But he also observed that in set theory and other highly abstract parts of science we sometimes deliberately adopt postulates with no justification other than that they are elegant and convenient. For Quine such postulations constitute a naturalistically acceptable and fallible sort of truth by convention. It is only when an act of adopting a postulate is not indispensible to natural science that Quine sees it as affording truth by convention ‘unalloyed’. A naturalist who accepts Quine’s notion of truth by convention is therefore not limited (as naturalists are often thought to be) to accepting only those postulates that she regards as indispensible to natural science. (shrink)
Common-sense allows that talk about moral truths makes perfect sense. If you object to the United States’ Declaration of Independence’s assertion that it is a truth that ‘all men’ are ‘endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights’, you are more likely to object that these rights are not unalienable or that they are not endowed by the Creator, or even that its wording ignores the fact that women have rights too, than that this is not the sort of (...) thing which could be a truth. Whether it is a truth or not seems beside the point, anyway; the writers of the Declaration could just have well written, ‘We hold it to be self-evident that all men are created equal, and also that it is self-evident that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,’ save only that its cadence would lack some of the poetic resonance of the version which garnered Hancock’s signature. Yet famously, ethical noncognitivists have proclaimed that moral sentences can’t be true or false – that, like ‘Hooray!’ or ‘dammit!’, they are not even the kinds of things to be true or false. Noncognitivism is sometimes even defined as the view that this is so, but even philosophers who define ‘noncognitivism’ more broadly, as consistent with the idea that moral sentences may be true or false, have believed that they needed to do important philosophical spadework in order to make sense of how moral sentences could be true or false. In this article we’ll look at the puzzle about moral truth as it is faced by early noncognitivists and by metaethical expressivists, the early noncognitivists’ contemporary cousins. We’ll look at what it would take for expressivists to ‘earn the right’ to talk about moral truths at all, and in particular at what it would take for them to earn the right to claim that moral truths behave in the ways that we should expect – including that meaningful moral sentences which lack presuppositions are true or false, and that classically valid arguments are truth-preserving.. (shrink)