What is truth? -- Varieties of deflationism -- A defense of minimalism -- The value of truth -- A minimalist critique of Tarski -- Kripke's paradox of meaning -- Regularities, rules, meanings, truth conditions, and epistemic norms -- Semantics : what's truth got to do with it? -- The motive power of evaluative concepts -- Ungrounded reason -- The nature of paradox -- A world without 'isms' -- The quest for reality -- Being and truth -- Provenance of chapters.
This paper argues that deflationism about truth enables us to resolve the notorious problem of intentionality—the problem (forcibly articulated by Kripke) of explaining how intrinsically dead signs, whether material or mental, are able to reach into the world and pick out specific collections of things.
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)
Paul Horwich's main aim in Reflections on Meaning is to explain how mere noises, marks, gestures, and mental symbols are able to capture the world--that is, how words and sentences (in whatever medium) come to mean what they do, to stand for certain things, to be true or false of reality. His answer is a groundbreaking development of Wittgenstein's idea that the meaning of a term is nothing more than its use. While the chapters here have appeared as individual essays, (...) Horwich has edited them to make a continuous argument, focused on articulating and developing an important new conception of language. (shrink)
Paul Horwich (2005). Truth. In Frank Jackson & Michael Smith (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
What is truth. Paul Horwich advocates the controversial theory of minimalism, that is that the nature of truth is entirely captured in the trivial fact that each proposition specifies its own condition for being true, and that truth is therefore an entirely mundane and unpuzzling concept. The first edition of Truth, published in 1980, established itself as the best account of minimalism and as an excellent introduction to the debate for students. For this new edition, Horwich has refined and developed (...) his treatment of the subject in the light of subsequent discussions, while preserving the distinctive format that made the earlier edition so successful. (shrink)
"Deflationism" has emerged as one of the most significant developments in contemporary philosophy. It is best known as a story about truth -- roughly, that the traditional search for its underlying nature is misconceived, since there can be no such thing. However, the scope of deflationism extends well beyond that particular topic. For, in the first place, such a view of truth substantially affects what we should say about neighboring concepts such as "reality," "meaning," and "rationality." And in the second (...) place, the anti-theoretical meta-philosophy that lies behind that view -- the idea that philosophical problems are characteristically based on confusion and should therefore be dissolved rather than solved -- may fruitfully be applied throughout the subject, in epistemology, ethics, the philosophy of science, metaphysics, and so on. The essays reprinted here were written over the last twenty five years. They represent Paul Horwich's development of the deflationary perspective and demonstrate its considerable power and fertility. They concern a broad array of philosophical problems: the nature of truth, realism vs. anti-realism, the creation of meaning, epistemic rationality, the conceptual role of "ought," probabilistic models of scientific reasoning, the autonomy of art, the passage of time, and the trajectory of Wittgenstein's philosophy. They appear as originally published except for the correction of obvious mistakes, the interpolation of clarifying material, and the inclusion of new footnotes to indicate Horwich's subsequent directions of thought. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is to clarify and defend a certain ‘minimalist’ thesis about truth: roughly, that the meaning of the truth predicate is fixed by the schema, ’The proposition that p is true if and only if p’.1 The several criticisms of this idea to which I wish to respond are to be found in the recent work of Davidson, Field, Gupta, Richard, and Soames, and in a classic paper of Dummett’s.
In this new book, the author of the classic Truth presents an original theory of meaning, demonstrates its richness, and defends it against all contenders. He surveys the diversity of twentieth-century philosophical insights into meaning and shows that his theory can reconcile these with a common-sense view of meaning as derived from use. Meaning and its companion volume Truth (now published in a revised edition) together demystify two central issues in philosophy and offer a controversial but compelling view of the (...) relations between language, thought, and reality. (shrink)
It is not uncommon for philosophers to maintain that one is obliged to believe nothing beyond the observable consequences of a successful scientific theory. This doctrine is variously known as instrumentalism, fictionalism, constructive empiricism, theoretical skepticism and the philosophy of "as if". The purpose of the present paper is to subject such forms of scientific antirealism to a two-pronged critique. In the first place it is argued that there is no genuine difference between believing a theory and being disposed to (...) use it to make predictions, design experiments, and so on; so traditional instrumentalism is incoherent. In the second place, a retrenched position is considered in which theoretical belief would be tolerated but said to be justified on merely pragmatic, and not epistemic, grounds. In criticizing this point of view it is shown that the onus of proof rests on anyone who maintains it; furthermore, the only possible rationale for it (which is based on underdetermination of theory by data) is described, and various deficiencies in this argument are exposed. (shrink)
Should we act only for the sake of what we might bring about (causal decision theory); or is it enough for a decent motive that our action is highly correlated with something desirable (evidential decision theory)? The conflict between these points of view is embodied in Newcomb's problem. It is argued here that intuitive evidence from familiar decision contexts does not enable us to settle the issue, since the two theories dictate the same results in normal circumstances. Nevertheless, there are (...) several reasons to reject the causal approach: (1) its relative complexity; (2) its commitment to the existence of situations in which every possible act would be irrational; (3) its incorporation of an arbitrary time bias; and (4) its implicit distinction between what ought to be done and what ought to be hoped for. (shrink)