This paper presents an account of the manner in which a proposition’s immediate structural features are related to its core truth-conditional features. The leading idea is that for a proposition to have a certain immediate structure is just for certain entities to play certain roles in the correct theory of the brute facts regarding that proposition’s truthconditions. The paper explains how this account addresses certain worries and questions recently raised by Jeffery King and Scott Soames.
Michael Dummett has advanced, very influentially, the view that Frege means truthconditions by his notion of thought (Gedanke). My aim in this paper is to argue that Dummett and others are mistaken in this claim. First, Frege's aversion of the correspondence theory of truth does not square well with Dummett's claim. Secondly, and more importantly, Grundgesetze I, §32, is the only place where Frege even appears to be talking about truthconditions in connection with (...) his notion of thought -- and even there, I shall show, he does not really identify thoughts with truthconditions, but states only the triviality that a statement such as, say, 'Leibniz is a philosopher' expresses the thought that Leibniz is a philosopher. (shrink)
This paper motivates and develops what I call a condition semantics for moral terms. According to condition semantics, moral sentences conventionally distinguish among moral standards (or test whether a moral standard meets a certain condition) just as ordinary factual sentences conventionally distinguish among possible worlds (or test whether a possible world meets a certain condition). This point is captured formally within an extension of the familiar truth-conditional paradigm. The resulting analysis improves upon its main competitors: invariantism and contextualism. The (...) framework of condition semantics also offers a perspicuous way of posing various classical ethical and metaethical questions—e.g., concerning relativism, expressivism, and judgment internalism. This can motivate clearer, better motivated answers and suggest new ways the dialectic may proceed. (shrink)
Two meanings of "subjective consequentialism" are distinguished: conscious deliberation with the aim of producing maximally-good consequences, versus acting in ways that, given one's evidence set and reasoning capabilities, is subjectively most likely to maximize expected consequences. The latter is opposed to "objective consequentialism," which demands that we act in ways that actually produce the best total consequences. Peter Railton's arguments for a version of objective consequentialism confuse the two subjective forms, and are only effective against the first. After reviewing the (...) arguments of Eric Wiland and Frances Howard-Snyder against objective consequentialism, two of Railton's arguments which might seem to count against the second form of subjective consequentialism are shown to be ineffective. This leaves subjective consequentialism as a viable theory to replace objective consequentialism with. (shrink)
The B-theory of time holds that McTaggart’s A-series of past, present, and future is reducible to the B-series of events running from earlier to later. According to the date-theory—originally put forth by J.J.C. Smart and later endorsed by by D.H. Mellor—the truthconditions of tensed or Asentence-tokens can be given in terms of tenseless or B-sentences and, therefore, A-sentence-tokens do not ascribe any A-determinations of pastness, presentness, or futurity. However, as Nathan Oaklander has argued, the date-theory does not (...) provide an adequate analysis of the ontological truthconditions of irreducible A-propositions. I show that the co-reporting theory—which holds that for every A-sentence-token there is a B-sentence that differs in sense but reports the same event or state of affairs—escapes the objections Oaklander has addressed against the date-theory. (shrink)
What we want to be true about ordinary indicative conditionals seems to be more than we can possibly get: there just seems to be no good way to assign truth-conditions to ordinary indicative conditionals. Some take this argument as reason to make our wantings more modest. Others take it to show that indicative conditionals don't have truth-conditions in the first place. But we have overlooked two possibilities for assigning truth-conditions to indicatives. What's more, those (...) possibilities deliver what we want and turn out to be equivalent. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us Digg Reddit Technorati What's this? (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.
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)
Critics of attempts to explain meaning in terms of truth-conditions have tended to charge their opponents with misconceptions regarding truth. I shall argue that the 'naïve' version of the truth-conditional theory which best accounts for its resilience fails for a different and more basic reason, namely, circularity arising from the contingency of meaning. One reason why this problem has been overlooked is a tendency (noted by Dummett in a different connection) to assimilate the naïve truth-conditional (...) theory to an idealized verificationism. (shrink)
This essay is a study of ontological commitment, focused on the special case of arithmetical discourse. It tries to get clear about what would be involved in a defense of the claim that arithmetical assertions are ontologically innocent and about why ontological innocence matters. The essay proceeds by questioning traditional assumptions about the connection between the objects that are used to specify the truth-conditions of a sentence, on the one hand, and the objects whose existence is required in (...) order for the truth-conditions thereby specified to be satisfied, on the other. This allows one to set forth an assignment of truth-conditions to arithmetical sentences whereby nothing is required of the world in order for the truth-conditions of a truth of pure arithmetic to be satisfied. The essay then argues that such an assignment can be used to account for the a priori knowability of certain arithmetical truths. (shrink)
There are two extant versions of the new tenseless theory of time: the date versionand the token-reflexive version. I ask whether they are equivalent, and if not, whichof them is to be preferred. I argue that they are not equivalent, that the date version isunsatisfactory, and that the token-reflexive version is correct. I defend the token-reflexive version against a string of objections from Quentin Smith. My defence involves a discussion of the ontological and semantic significance of truthconditions, (...) and of the connection between truth and reality on the one hand, and that between truth and meaning on the other. I argue that Smith''s objections to the token-reflexive theory stem from his confusing these two aspects of the notion of truth. (shrink)
In this paper, I develop a criticism to a method for metaontology, namely, the idea that a discourse’s or theory’s ontological commitments can be read off its sentences’ truth-conditions. Firstly, I will put forward this idea’s basis and, secondly, I will present the way Quine subscribed to it (not actually for hermeneutical or historic interest, but as a way of exposing the idea). However, I distinguish between two readings of Quine’s famous ontological criterion, and I center the focus (...) on (assuming without further discussion the other one to be mistaken) the one currently dubbed “ontological minimalism”, a kind of modern Ockhamism applied to the mentioned metaontological view. I show that this view has a certain application via Quinean thesis of reference inscrutability but that it is not possible to press that application any further and, in particular, not for the ambitious metaontological task some authors try to employ. The conclusion may sound promising: having shown the impossibility of a semantic ontological criterion, intentionalist or subjectivist ones should be explored. (shrink)
But the sort of context sensitivity exhibited in such sentences does not compromise the claim that meaning determines truthconditions, since recourse to context here is directed and restricted by conventional meaning alone. Anyone who understands sentence (2) knows that its utterances are true just in case whatever object is demonstrated in the context of utterance is nice; and he also knows that any utterance of (2) says of, or expresses about, whichever object is demonstrated that it’s nice. (...) (Similarly, anyone who understands (3) knows that any utterance of it is true just in case whoever utters it has eaten. And every utterance says of, or expresses about, the speaker that he or she has eaten.) In sum, according to the thesis that meaning determines truthconditions, (indicative) sentences divide into two classes – those with truthconditions tout.. (shrink)
In his 'Meaning and Truth-Conditions', Gary Kemp offers a reconstruction of Frege's infamous 'regress argument' which purports to rely only upon the premises that the meaning of a sentence is its truth-condition and that each sentence expresses a unique proposition. If cogent, the argument would show that only someone who accepts a form of semantic holism can use the notion of truth to explain that of meaning. I respond that Kemp relies heavily upon what he himself (...) styles 'a literal, rather wooden' understanding of truth-conditions. I explore alternatives, and say a few words about how Frege's regress argument might best be understood. (shrink)
I develop a technique for specifying truth-conditions. (This is part of a series of four closely related papers. The other three are ‘An Account of Possibility’, ‘Ontological Commitment’ and ‘An Actualist’s Guide to Quantifying-In’.).
Quentin Smith has argued that the new tenseless theory of time is faced with insurmountable problems and should be abandoned in favour of the tensed theory of time. Smith;s main argument attacks the fundamental premise of the tenseless theory: that tenseless truthconditions for tokens of tensed sentences adequately capture the meaning of tensed sentences. His position is that tenseless truthconditions cannot explain the logical relations between tensed sentences, thus the tensed theory must be accepted. (...) Against Smith, this paper adopts an alternative approach to the explanation of the entailment relations between sentences which contain indexicals. The approach drops the reliance upon tokens and instead relies on the evaluation of sentence types with respect to a context rather than upon actual or possible utterances of tokens of the types. This (new) version of the tenseless theory of time can adequately explain the relevant entailment relations between tensed sentences. (shrink)
Richard Heck has contested my argument that the equation of the meaning of a sentence with its truth-condition implies deflationism, on the ground that the argument does not go through if truth-conditions are understood, in Davidson's style, to be stated by T-sentences. My reply is that Davidsonian theories of meaning do not equate the meaning of a sentence with its truth-condition, and thus that Heck's point does not actually obstruct my argument.
This paper offers and defends a particular version of the view that it is the intentions with which it is performed that determine the truthconditions of an utterance. A competing version, implied by Grice's work on meaning, is rejected as inadequate. This latter is incompatible with the phenomenon of anti-lying: performing a true utterance with the intention that one's audience believe it to be false. In place of the quasi-Gricean version, the paper maintains that an utterance is (...) true-iff-p just in case it is performed with the intention that its intended audience recognize it as true-iff-p. Delicacy is called for in the interpretation of 'recognition' if this biconditional is to be plausible. Moreover, since truthconditions are extensional and intentions intensional, this simple statement of the view requires qualification. And finally, some methodological self-awareness is needed to see off the charge of analytical circularity (since the analysans contains the analysandum). This intention-based view is proffered as an attractive and viable alternative to any view according to which the semantics of utterances are determined by the semantics of expressions, where the latter can largely float free from the intentions of a particular utterer. (shrink)
We present Logical Description Grammar (LDG), a model ofgrammar and the syntax-semantics interface based on descriptions inelementary logic. A description may simultaneously describe the syntacticstructure and the semantics of a natural language expression, i.e., thedescribing logic talks about the trees and about the truth-conditionsof the language described. Logical Description Grammars offer a naturalway of dealing with underspecification in natural language syntax andsemantics. If a logical description (up to isomorphism) has exactly onetree plus truth-conditions as a model, it (...) completely specifies thatgrammatical object. More common is the situation, corresponding tounderspecification, in which there is more than one model. A situation inwhich there are no models corresponds to an ungrammatical input. (shrink)
Many linguists and philosophers of language explain linguistic meaning in terms of truthconditions. 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 article begins by distinguishing a number of theses which, in the past, have sometimes been lumped together under the heading of 'anti-realism'. One of the theses is that there is something wrong with truth-conditional theories of meaning (what a truth-conditional theory of meaning is a matter discussed at some length), another is what I take to be the central thesis of anti-realism, that all truths are knowable. Several writers on the subject, such as Wright and Prawitz, have (...) defended the latter thesis while jettisoning the former. I argue that this position is exactly the wrong way around. Given the 'meaning is use' principle, which is also called the 'manifestation requirement', a very powerful case can be made that true theory of meaning cannot be truth-conditional. But I argue that, given the current state of our logical knowledge, there is no good reason for concluding from this that a true theory of meaning must be of the 'verificationist' type, as Dummett seems to think, and still less for thinking that anti-realism follows. I end by examining theories of meaning against Dummett's criticisms. (shrink)
Within the linguistics literature it is often claimed that epistemic modality, unlike other kinds of modality, does not contribute to truth-conditional content. In this paper I challenge this view. I reanalyze a variety of arguments which have been used in support of the non-truth-conditional view and show that they can be handled on an alternative analysis of epistemic modality. # 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Although a number of truth theorists have claimed that a deflationary theory of ‘is true’ needs nothing more than the uniform implication of instances of the theorem ‘the proposition that p is true if and only if p ’, reflection shows that this is inadequate. If deflationists can’t support the instances when replacing the biconditional with ‘because’, then their view is in peril. Deflationists sometimes acknowledge this by addressing, occasionally attempting to deflate, ‘because’ and ‘in virtue of’ formulas and (...) their close relatives. I examine what I take to be the most promising deflationist moves in this direction and argue that they fail. (shrink)
Evolving signaling systems can be said to induce partitions on the space of world states as they approach equilibrium. Formalizing this claim provides a general framework for understanding what it means for language to “cut nature at its seams”. In order to avoid taking our current best science as providing the adaptive target for all evolving systems, the state space of the world must be characterized exclusively in terms of the coincidence of stimuli and payoffs that drives the evolution of (...) cognitive complexity. Cognition exploits the reliable clustering of events in this space. Using this framework to analyze our ordinary concepts of truth and justification, it appears that while justification can be a simple matter of conforming to historically entrenched strategies, truth cannot be fully specified on the basis of the system’s causal history, but requires a robust clustering in the larger world state space. (shrink)
Or, in Donald Davidson’s much quoted words: “What is it for words to mean what they do?” (Davidson 1984, xiii). Davidson himself suggested approaching this matter by asking two different questions: What form should a formal semantics take? And: What is it that makes a semantic theory correct for a particular language, i.e. what determines meaning? The second question concerns the place of semantic facts in a wider metaphysical space: How do these facts relate to non-semantic facts? Can they be (...) reduced to non-semantic facts, do they merely supervene on non-semantic facts, or are they something like metaphysical primitives? In the second half of the Twentieth Century, philosophers of language have been especially interested in the relation between semantic facts and facts that can be described in naturalistic terms, and different versions of reductive and non-reductive naturalism have been discussed. Another, though related, debate concerns the question whether the facts determining meaning (and thought content) are facts in some sense internal, or external, to the subject saying or thinking something. (shrink)
Charles Travis has been forcefully arguing that meaning does not determine truth-conditions for more than two decades now. To this end, he has devised ingenious examples whereby different utterances of the same prima facie non-ambiguous and non-indexical expression type have different truth-conditions depending on the occasion on which they are delivered. However, Travis does not argue that meaning varies with circumstances; only that truth-conditions do. He assumes that meaning is a stable feature of both (...) words and sentences. After surveying some of the explanations that semanticists and pragmaticians have produced in order to account for Travis cases, I propose a view which differs substantially from all of them. I argue that the variability in the truth-conditions that an utterance type can have is due to meaning facts alone. To support my argument, I suggest that we think about the meanings of words (in particular, the meanings of nouns) as rich conceptual structures; so rich that the way in which a property concept applies to an object concept is not determined. (shrink)
Igal Kvart RATIONAL ASSERTIBILITY, THE STEERING ROLE OF KNOWLEDGE, AND PRAGMATIC ENCROACHMENT Abstract In the past couple of decades, there were a few major attempts to establish the thesis of pragmatic encroachment – that there is a significant pragmatic ingredient in the truth-conditions for knowledge-ascriptions. Epistemic contextualism has flaunted the notion of a conversational standard, and Stanley's subject-sensitive invariantism (SSI) promoted stakes, each of which, according to their proponents, play a major role as pragmatic components in the (...) class='Hi'>truthconditions of knowledge ascriptions. These conceptions were propelled first and foremost by examples of knowledge ascriptions with obvious pragmatic aspects that seemed to require a pragmatic component in the truth-conditions of knowledge ascriptions in order to be accounted for. However, if such examples can be adequately explained not by pragmatic encroachment purely pragmatically, the central role that such examples play in supporting these accounts will be undermined. I lay out here a new pragmatic account, offering a different, purely pragmatic picture that explains such examples, and much more. If such an account and its associated explanations are adequate, then much of a need or a motivation for pragmatic encroachment is undermined. Specifically, I will develop the notion of rational assertibility, appealing to rational norms (which are not Gricean) as interfacing with semantic and epistemic (and other) norms to yield assertibility simpliciter. More importantly, I will argue for a well-entrenched pragmatic profile of knowledge, the so-called steering role of knowledge. Knowledge ascriptions, or simple assertions (that don't invoke the notion of knowledge), it will be argued, play a pragmatic role of steering audiences in joint deliberational setups to the speaker's preferred action by invoking an impending practical inference leading to that preferred action, and of ignoring incompatible alternatives. The recognition of rational forces as affecting, sometimes strongly and predominantly, intuitions associated with knowledge ascriptions, has important implications to philosophical methodology regarding what count as evidence for semantic features. One such lesson calls for securing examples with no significant rational forces at play in order to establish semantic features. Another calls attention to the ill-suitability of employing assertibility by figures in examples featuring deliberational setups for such a purpose in view of the role that such assertibility plays in reflecting rational aspects of such figures, in addition to their epistemic and semantic characteristics. Still another lesson points to a specific role that audiences play in such deliberational setups. (shrink)
If, as the new B-theory of time maintains, tensed sentences have tenseness truthconditions, it follows that it is possible for two sentence-tokens to have the same truthconditions but different meanings. This conclusion forces a rethink of the traditional identification of truth-conditions with meaning. There is an aspect of the meanings of tensed sentences that is not captured by their truthconditions, and that has so far eluded explanation. In this paper (...) I intend to locate, examine, and explain this feature of tensed meaning. (shrink)
1. In ‘A problem for expressivism’ Frank Jackson and Philip Pettit argue ‘that expressivists do not have a persuasive story to tell about how ethical sentences can express attitudes without reporting them and, in particular, without being true or false’ (1998: 240). Brieﬂy: expressivists say that ethical sentences serve to express non-cognitive attitudes, but that these sentences do not report non-cognitive attitudes. The view that ethical sentences do report non-cognitive attitudes is not Expressivism (and not non-cognitivism), but rather a version (...) of cognitivism. According to (what we’ll call) Subjectivism, a typical ethical sentence like ‘Abortion is wrong’ reports the speaker’s non-cognitive attitude toward abortion; it says, in effect, that abortion is the object of some attitude of the speaker’s. Expressivists, by contrast, say that the sentence expresses a non-cognitive attitude toward abortion, but does not say that the speaker has it. Ayer put it this way: I can say that I am bored by uttering the sentence ‘I am bored’, but I can express boredom, without saying that I am bored, by yawning (Ayer 1952: 109). (shrink)
This paper investigates the truthconditions of sentences containing indefinite noun phrases, focusing on occurrences in attitude reports, and, in particular, a puzzle case due to Walter Edelberg. It is argued that indefinites semantically contribute the (thought-)object they denote, in a manner analogous to attributive definite descriptions. While there is an existential reading of attitude reports containing indefinites, it is argued that the existential quantifier is contributed by the de re interpretation of the indefinite (as the de re (...) reading adds existential quantification to the interpretation of definites on Kaplan’s analysis). (shrink)
This comment piece examines the distinction between negation of a statement and denial of its truth (assertion of its falsity), in the context of an early examination of Quine's related views. Where P is "Jones is ill," the author maintains, in contrast to Quine, that the negation of P is "Jones is ill" is false.
In this paper I will be concerned with the question as to whether expressivist theories of meaning can coherently be combined with deflationist theories of truth. After outlining what I take expressivism to be and what I take deflationism about truth to be, I’ll explain why I don’t take the general version of this question to be very hard, and why the answer is ‘yes’. Having settled that, I’ll move on to what I take to be a more (...) pressing and interesting version of the question, arising from a prima facie tension between deflationism about truth and the motivations underlying expressivism for what I take to be two of its most promising applications: to indicative conditionals and epistemic modals. Here I’ll argue that the challenge is substantive, but that there is no conceptual obstacle to its being met, provided that one’s expressivism takes the right form. (shrink)
Controversy has arisen of late over the claim that deflationism about truth requires that we explain meaning in terms of something other than truth-conditions. This controversy, it is argued, is due to unclarity as to whether the basic deflationary claim that a sentence and a sentence that attributes truth to it are equivalent in meaning is intended to involve the truth-predicate of the object language for which we develop an account of meaning, or is intended (...) to involve the truth-predicate of the metalanguage in which we develop an account of meaning. The former view is compatible with the truth-conditional theory of meaning for the object language, the latter is incompatible with it. However, the former view is also trivially true; hence we should endorse the claim that any form of deflationism worth being interested in is incompatible with understanding meaning truth-conditionally. (shrink)
Introduction The mainstream view in philosophy of language is that sentence meaning determines truth-conditions. A corollary is that the truth or falsity of an utterance depends only on what words mean and how the world is arranged. Although several prominent philosophers (Searle, Travis, Recanati, Moravcsik) have challenged this view, it has proven hard to dislodge. The alternative view holds that meaning underdetermines truth-conditions. What is expressed by the utterance of a sentence in a context goes (...) beyond what is encoded in the sentence itself. Truth-conditional content depends on an indefinite number of unstated background assumptions, not all of which can be made explicit. A change in background assumptions can change truth-conditions, even bracketing disambiguation and reference assignment. That is, even after disambiguating any ambiguous words in a sentence and assigning semantic values to any indexical expressions in the sentence, truth-conditions may vary with variations in the background. (shrink)
An argument is developed at some length to show that any semantical theory which treats superficially nonperformative sentences as being governed by performative prefaces at some level of underlying structure must either leave those sentences semantically uninterpreted or assign them the wrong truth-conditions. Several possible escapes from this dilemma are examined; it is tentatively concluded that such hypotheses as the Ross-Lakoff-Sadock Performative Analysis should be rejected despite their attractions.
I define 'skim semantics' to be a Davidson-style truth-conditional semantics combined with a variety of deflationism about truth. The expressive role of truth in truth-conditional semantics precludes at least some kinds of skim semantics; thus I reject the idea that the challenge to skim semantics derives solely from Davidson's explanatory ambitions, and in particular from the 'truth doctrine', the view that the concept of truth plays a central explanatory role in Davidsonian theories of meaning (...) for a language. The fate of skim semantics is not determined by the fate of the truth doctrine, so rejecting the truth doctrine does not in itself open the way to skim semantics. I establish my thesis by showing that some recently proposed versions of skim semantics fail because of truth's expressive role. I also discuss the conditions that might permit skim semantics. (shrink)
Critique of prevailing textbook conception of sufficient conditions and necessary conditions as a truth functional relation of material implication (p->q)/(~q->~p). Explanation of common sense conception of condition as correlative of consequence, involving dependence. Utility of this conception exhibited in resolving puzzles regarding ontology, truth, and fatalism.
According to the proximal theory of meaning, which is to be found in Quine’s early writings, meaning is determined completely by the correlation of sentences with sensory stimulations. Davidson tried to show that this theory is untenable because it leads to a radical form of skepticism. The present paper aims to show, first, that Davidson’s criticism is not sound, and, second, that nonetheless the proximal theory is untenable because it has a very similar and equally unacceptable consequence: it implies that (...) the truth-value of ordinary sentences like ‘Snow is white’ is completely determined by the properties of the speaker, not by the properties of the objects to which these sentences refer. (shrink)
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, truthconditions, 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 (...) class='Hi'>truth -- Provenance of chapters. (shrink)
In recent work on contextdependency, it has been argued that certain types of sentences give rise to a notion of relative truth. In particular, sentences containing predicates of personal taste and moral or aesthetic evaluation as well as epistemic modals are held to express a proposition (relative to a context of use) which is true or false not only relative to a world of evaluation, but other parameters as well, such as standards of taste or knowledge or an agent. (...) Thus, a sentence like chocolate tastes good would express a proposition p that is true or false not only at a world of evaluation, but relative to the additional parameter as well, such as a parameter of taste or an agent. I will argue that the sentences that apparently give rise to relative truth should be understood by relating them in a certain way to the first person. More precisely, such sentences express what I will call firstpersonbased genericity, a form of generalization that is based on or directed toward an essential firstperson application of the predicate. The account differs from standard relative truth account in crucial respects: it is not the truth of the proposition expressed that is relative to the first person; the proposition expressed by a sentence with a predicate of taste rather has absolute truthconditions. Instead it is the propositional content itself that requires a firstpersonal cognitive access whenever it is entertained. This account, I will argue, avoids a range of problems that standard relative truth theories of the sentences in question face and explains a number of further peculiarities that such sentences display. (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)
In this paper, I discuss two concerns for pluralist truth theories: a concern about a key detail of these theories and a concern about their viability. The detailed-related concern is that pluralists have relied heavily upon the notion of a domain, but it is not transparent what they take domains to be. Since the notion of a domain has been present in philosophy for some time, it is important for many theorists, not only truth pluralists, to be clear (...) on what domains are and what work they can do. -/- The viability-related concern is that it's not clear how a pluralist truth theory could explain the truth-conditions of mixed atomic propositions. To address this concern, truth pluralists should recognize something to which they have not been sufficiently attentive: that some atomic propositions belong to more than one domain. But, recognizing this requires rethinking the relationships between the nature of propositions, their membership in domains, and their truth. I address these issues and propose an understanding of them that is preferable to the best existing account of them, that offered by Michael Lynch. (shrink)
This essay argues that cases of apparently sub-sentential speech, such as Charles’ utterance of ‘a world famous topologist’ in the presence of a suitably salient woman, are unproblematic from the viewpoint of the Traditional View of meaning and truth-conditions. My argument is grounded on the distinction between different senses of ‘truth-conditions’ in double-index semantics, and on an understanding of semantic inputs as constraints on logical forms. Given these conceptual resources, I argue that an utterly traditional understanding (...) of the relationships between meaning and truth yields the intuitively desired results. (shrink)
In rejecting the Principle of AlternatePossibilities (PAP), Harry Frankfurt makes useof a special sort of counterfactual of thefollowing form: ``he wouldn''t have doneotherwise even if he could have''''. Recently,other philosophers (e.g., Susan Hurley (1999,2003) and Michael Zimmerman (2002)) haveappealed to a special class of counterfactualsof this same general form in defending thecompatibility of determinism andresponsibility. In particular, they claim thatit can be true of agents that even if they aredetermined, and so cannot do otherwise, theywouldn''t have done otherwise even if (...) they couldhave. Using as a central case an argument ofSusan Hurley''s, I point out that thecounterfactuals in question are both``interlegal'''' and ``indeterministic'''', and I raisedoubts about whether this special class ofcounterfactuals have clear truthconditions. Finally I suggest that acknowledging thesepoints leads to an appreciation of the realstrength of Frankfurt-style examples. (shrink)
On a classical conception, knowing the sense of a proposition is knowing its truth-condition, rather than simply knowing how to verify the proposition, or how to find its implications (whether deductive implications or implications for action). But knowing the truth-condition of a proposition is not unrelated to your use of particular methods for verifying the proposition, or finding its implications. Rather, your knowledge of the truth-condition of the proposition has to justify the use of particular methods for (...) verifying it, or finding its implications. And your knowledge of the truth-condition of the proposition has to be what causes your use of particular methods for verifying it or finding its implications. So on a classical picture, we do not appeal to knowledge of sense only in explaining the informativeness of identities. We have to think of knowledge of sense as what causes, and justifies, your use of particular ways of verifying or finding the implications of a proposition. I argue that in the case of a perceptual demonstrative, like 'that star' or 'that mountain', it is conscious attention to the object that causes, and justifies, your use of particular ways of verifying or finding the implications of propositions involving the demonstrative. So conscious attention to the object is what constitutes your grasp of the sense of the demonstrative. This runs counter to the philosophical tradition since Locke, which takes it that the role of experience in understanding has to do solely with the verification of propositions. I argue that once we think of conscious attention as a pre-intentional acquaintance with the object itself, we can see how it is possible to think of understanding as consisting in knowledge of classical truth-conditions. (shrink)
We investigate the logical and conceptual connections between abductive reasoning construed as a process of belief change, on the one hand, and truth approximation, construed as increasing (estimated) verisimilitude, on the other. We introduce the notion of â(verisimilitude-guided) abductive belief changeâ and discuss under what conditions abductively changing our theories or beliefs does lead them closer to the truth, and hence tracks truth approximation conceived as the main aim of inquiry. The consequences of our analysis for (...) some recent discussions concerning belief revision aiming at truth approximation and inference to the best explanation are also highlighted. (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 ...
Are all instances of the T-schema assertable? I argue that they are not. The reason is the presence of conventional implicature in a language. Conventional implicature is meant to be a component of the rule-based content that a sentence can have, but it makes no contribution to the sentence's truth-conditions. One might think that a conventional implicature is like a force operator. But it is not, since it can enter into the scope of logical operators. It follows that (...) the semantic content of a sentence is not given simply by its truth-conditional content. So not all instances of the T-schema are assertable in the relevant sense. Consequently, there is a strong case to be made against truth-conditional semantics of the disquotational variety and deflationism about truth. (shrink)
This paper presents an account of the understanding of statements involving metaphysical modality, together with dovetailing theories of their truthconditions and epistemology. The account makes modal truth an objective matter, whilst avoiding both Lewisian modal realism and mind-dependent or expressivist treatments of the truthconditions of modal sentences. The theory proceeds by formulating constraints a world-description must meet if it is to represent a genuine possibility. Modal truth is fixed by the totality of (...) the constraints. To understand modal discourse is to have tacit knowledge of the body of information stated in these constraints. Modal knowledge is attained by evaluating modal statements in accordance with the constraints. The question of the general relations between modal truth and knowability is also addressed. The paper includes a discussion of which modal logic is supported by the presented theory of truthconditions for modal statements. (shrink)
My topic is the attempt by Donald Davidson, and those inspired by him, to explain knowledge of meaning in terms of knowledge of truthconditions. 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)
§ Main Goals: 1. To construct a theory of meaning (a semantics) as Tarski does with a theory of truth. 2. To argue that the meaning of a sentence is nothing but its truthconditions. 3. To argue that a characterization of a truth predicate describes the required kind of structure, and provides a clear and testable criterion of an adequate semantics for a natural language.
Philosophers, linguists and others interested in problems concerning natural language frequently employ tools from logic and model theory. The question arises as to the proper interpretation of the formal methods employed—of the relationship between, on the one hand, the formal languages and their set-theoretic models and, on the other hand, the objects of ultimate interest: natural language and the meanings and truthconditions of its constituent words, phrases and sentences. Two familiar answers to this question are descriptivism and (...) instrumentalism. More recently, a third answer has been proposed: the logic as modelling view. This paper seeks to clarify and assess this view of logic. The conclusion is that we can successfully adopt the modelling perspective on a given piece of logical machinery only if we have to hand some other machinery to which we take the descriptive attitude. Thus, logic as modelling is not a full-ﬂedged alternative to the descriptive view— for it cannot stand alone: it can at best be an addition to the descriptive perspective. The paper ﬁrst presents the argument in a general, abstract form, before working through a detailed case study. The case examined is the one with respect to which the logic as modelling view has been developed in the greatest detail in the literature: the case of fuzzy model theory as an account of vagueness in natural language. (shrink)
Abstract: According to deflationism, grasp of the concept of truth consists in nothing more than a disposition to accept a priori (non-paradoxical) instances of the schema:(DS) It is true that p if and only if p.According to contextualism, the same expression with the same meaning might, on different occasions of use, express different propositions bearing different truth-conditions (where this does not result from indexicality and the like). On this view, what is expressed in an utterance depends in (...) a non-negligible way on the circumstances. Charles Travis claims that contextualism shows that ‘deflationism is a mistake’, that truth is a more substantive notion than deflationism allows. In this paper, I examine Travis's arguments in support of this ‘inflationary’ claim and argue that they are unsuccessful. (shrink)
Tarski avoids the liar paradox by relativizing truth and falsehood to particular languages and forbidding the predication to sentences in a language of truth or falsehood by any sentences belonging to the same language. The Tarski truth-schemata stratify an object-language and indefinitely ascending hierarchy of meta-languages in which the truth or falsehood of sentences in a language can only be asserted or denied in a higher-order meta-language. However, Tarski’s statement of the truth-schemata themselves involve general (...)truth functions, and in particular the biconditional, defined in terms of truthconditions involving truth values standardly displayed in a truth table. Consistently with his semantic program, all such truth values should also be relativized to particular languages for Tarski. The objection thus points toward the more interesting problem of Tarski’s concept of the exact status of truth predications in a general logic of sentential connectives. Tarski’s three-part solution to the circularity objection which he anticipates is discussed and refuted in detail. (shrink)
I outline a variant on the formalist approach to mathematics which rejects textbook formalism's highly counterintuitive denial that mathematical theorems express truths while still avoiding ontological commitment to a realm of abstract objects. The key idea is to distinguish the sense of a sentence from its explanatory truthconditions. I then look at various problems with the neo-formalist approach, in particular at the status of the notion of proof in a formal calculus and at problems which Gödelian results (...) seem to pose for the tight link assumed between truth and proof. (shrink)
The claim that truth is mind dependent has some initial plausibility only if truth bearers are taken to be mind dependent entities such as beliefs or statements. Even on that assumption, however, the claim is not uncontroversial. If it is spelled out as the thesis that “in a world devoid of mind nothing would be true”, then everything depends on how the phrase ‘true in world w’ is interpreted. If ‘A is true in w’ is interpreted as ‘A (...) is true of w’ (i.e. ‘w satisfies A’s truthconditions’, the claim need not be true. If on the other hand it is interpreted as ‘A is true of w and exists in w’ then the claim is trivially true, though devoid of any antirealistic efficacy. Philosophers like Heidegger and Rorty, who hold that truth is mind dependent but reality is not, must regard such principles as “A if and only if it is true that A” as only contingently true, which may be a good reason to reject the mind dependence of truth anyway. (shrink)
What words mean plays a role in determining when they would be true; but not an exhaustive one. For that role leaves room for variation in truthconditions, with meanings fixed, from one speaking of words to another. What role meaning plays depends on what truth is; on what words, by virtue of meaning what they do are requied to have done (as spoken) in order to have said what is true. There is a deflationist position on (...) what truth is: the notion is exhausted by a given, specified, mass of 'platitudes', each to the effect that if words said (say) things to be thus, things must be that way. (The thought that thus-and-so is true iff thus-and-so.) These platitudes, and so deflationism, miss that aspect of truth that determines meaning's role. Truth requires words to have the uses which, given what they mean, they should have in the circumstances of their speaking. Through this link with use, when words would be true is a factor fixing what it is they said. (shrink)