My main task here is first to distinguish, and then to map out possibilities. I won’t be concerned to argue for a certain position as much as to argue that various combinations of positions are consistent. In particular, I want to argue that a commitment to minimalismabouttruth does not bring an automatic commitment to what has been called a minimalist theory of truth-aptitude: the claim that every assertoric sentence which is used in a systematic (...) way will be either true or false. Nor does minimalismabouttruth bring a commitment to what has been called minimalismabout reference: the claim that every word used in a systematic way will refer. (shrink)
Minimalism, Paul Horwich’s deflationary conception of truth, has recently received a makeover in form of the second edition of Horwich’s highly stimulating book Truth1. I wish to use this occasion to explore a thesis vital to Minimalism: that the minimal theory of truth provides an adequate explanation of the facts abouttruth. I will indicate why the thesis is vital to Minimalism. Then I will argue that it can be saved from objections only (...) by tampering with the standards of adequate explanation —a move that deprives it from giving support to Minimalism. At the heart of Minimalism lies a theory of truth for propositions. It is called the minimal theory, or MT for short. It consists of a collection of axioms. Each axiom is a proposition of the form.. (shrink)
I argue that deflationism abouttruth does not imply minimalismabout truthaptness. The condition for truth-aptness can be strengthened and the disquotationalschema restricted without resorting to any inflationary conception of truth-theoretic notions.
Minimalism is currently the received deflationary theory of truth. On minimalism, truth is a transparent concept and a deflated property of truth bearers. In this paper, I situate minimalism within current deflationary debate abouttruth by contrasting it with its main alternative―the redundancy theory of truth (according to which truth is a transparent concept but not a property). I also outline three of the primary challenges facing minimalism, its formulation, (...) explanatory adequacy and stability, and draw some lessons for the soundness of its conception of truth. (shrink)
Minimalists abouttruth say that the important properties of the truth predicate are revealed in the class of T -biconditionals. Most minimalists demur from taking all of the T -biconditionals of the form “ p is true if and only if p”, to be true, because to do so leads to paradox. But exactly which biconditionals turn out to be true? I take a leaf out of the epistemic account of vagueness to show how the minimalist can (...) avoid giving a comprehensive answer to that question. I also show that this response is entailed by taking minimalism seriously, and that objections to this position may be usefully aided and abetted by Gupta and Belnap’s revision theory of truth. (shrink)
The weak deflationist abouttruth is committed to two theses: one conceptual, the other ontological. On the conceptual thesis (what might be called a ‘triviality thesis’), the content of the truth predicate is exhausted by its involvement in some version of the ‘truth-schema’. On the ontological thesis, truth is a deflated property of truth bearers. In this paper, I focus on weak deflationism’s ontological thesis, arguing that it generates an instability in its view of (...)truth: the view threatens to collapse into either that of strong deflationism (i.e., truth is not a property) or that of some form of inflationism (i.e., truth is a substantial property). The instability objection to weak deflationism is sketched by way of a truth-property ascription dilemma, the two horns of which its proponent is at pains to circumvent. (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)
I argue that conventional implicatures embed in logical compounds, and are non-truth-conditional contributors to sentence meaning. This, I argue has significant implications for how we understand truth, truth-conditional content, and truth-bearers.
The question is asked whether one can consistently both be a minimalist abouttruth, and hold that some meaningful assertoric sentences fail to be either true or false. It is shown that one can, but the issues are delicate, and the price is high: one must either refrain from saying that the sentences lack truth values, or else one must invoke a novel non-contraposing three-valued conditional. Finally it is shown that this does not help in reconciling (...) class='Hi'>minimalism with emotivism, where this latter is understood as involving the view that ethical sentences are neither true nor false. (shrink)
This article, after briefly discussing Alfred Tarski's influential theory of truth, turns to a more recent theory of truth, a deflationary, or minimalist, theory. One of the chief elements of a deflationary, or minimalist, theory of truth is that it replaces the question of what truth is with the question of what “true” does. After setting out the central features of the minimalist theory of truth, the article explains the motivation for opting for such a (...) position. In addition, it provides some reasons for thinking that such a theory of truth is “minimal” or “deflationary” in the way that contemporary truth theorists have claimed it to be. (shrink)
This paper is aboutTruthMinimalism, Norm Expressivism, and the relation between them. In particular, it is about whether TruthMinimalism can help to solve a problem thought to plague Norm Expressivism. To start with, let me explain what I mean by 'TruthMinimalism' and 'Norm Expressivism.'.
Minimalists generally see themselves as engaged in a descriptive project. They maintain that they can explain everything we want to say abouttruth without appealing to anything other than the T-schema, i.e., the idea that the proposition that p is true iff p. I argue that despite recent claims to the contrary, minimalists cannot explain one important belief many people have abouttruth, namely, that truth is good. If that is so, then minimalism, and (...) possibly deflationism as a whole, must be rejected or recast as a profoundly revisionary project. (shrink)
Philosophers are often thought to be in the business of analysing concepts, in particular, concepts taken to be fundamental in human thought and practice: truth, goodness, beauty, knowledge, meaning, rightness, causation, to name just a few. But what can we expect from such analyses? Can we expect a comprehensive account of one concept in terms of one or more others? Can we expect to reduce these kinds of concepts to concepts which are taken to be more fundamental? This study (...) is concerned with a particular approach to conceptual analysis, minimalism, which, in general, offers very modest answers to these questions. Minimalist theories, by and large, hold that the strategy for analysing concepts ought not to go much further than the collection of some rather ordinary, ‘platitudinous’ thoughts about those concepts. Accordingly, minimalist theories do not often encourage ambitious pro jects of giving a comprehensive analysis of one concept in terms of another, where this process encourages the construction of such biconditional claims as ‘X falls under concept F iff X falls under concept G’. Just how far we are to extend our analysis beyond the point of a collection of platitudinous principles is a point of contention between different types of minimalist theories. This study has three main aims. Firstly, it aims to give a taxonomy of minimalist theories. Secondly, it aims to examine in detail the types of minimalist theories pertinent to the study of truth, and propose the best view available. Thirdly, it aims to examine how the minimalist methodology may be extended to other normative concepts, taking the concept of goodness as a case study. (shrink)
My goal is to illuminate truth-making by way of illuminating the relation of making. My strategy is not to ask what making is, in the hope of a metaphysical theory about is nature. It's rather to look first to the language of making. The metaphor behind making refers to agency. It would be absurd to suggest that claims about making are claims about agency. It is not absurd, however, to propose that the concept of making somehow (...) emerges from some feature to do with agency. That's the contention to be explore in this paper. The way to do this is through expressivism,. Truth-making claims, and making-claims generfally, are claims in which we express mental states linked to our maipulation of concepts, like truth. In particular, they express disposition to undertake derivations using inference rules, in which introduction rules have a specific role. I then show how this theory explains our intuitions abouttruth's asymmetric dependence on being. (shrink)
Although it’s sometimes thought that pluralism abouttruth is unstable---or, worse, just a non-starter---it’s surprisingly difficult to locate collapsing arguments that conclusively demonstrate either its instability or its inability to get started. This paper exemplifies the point by examining three recent arguments to that effect. However, it ends with a cautionary tale; for pluralism may not be any better off than other traditional theories that face various technical objections, and may be worse off in facing them all.
First, we describe a psychological experiment in which the participants were asked to determine whether sentences of first-order logic were true or false in finite graphs. Second, we define two proof systems for reasoning abouttruth and falsity in first-order logic. These proof systems feature explicit models of cognitive resources such as declarative memory, procedural memory, working memory, and sensory memory. Third, we describe a computer program that is used to find the smallest proofs in the aforementioned proof (...) systems when capacity limits are put on the cognitive resources. Finally, we investigate the correlation between a number of mathematical complexity measures defined on graphs and sentences and some psychological complexity measures that were recorded in the experiment. (shrink)
In this paper I explore why one might hope to, and how to begin to, develop an expressivist account of truth – that is, a semantics for ‘true’ and ‘false’ within an expressivist framework. I do so for a few reasons: because certain features of deflationism seem to me to require some sort of nondescriptivist semantics, because of all nondescriptivist semantic frameworks which are capable of yielding definite predictions rather than consisting merely of hand-waving, expressivism is that with which (...) I am most familiar, and because I believe that certain problems abouttruth and particularly about paradox seem to me to look different, when seen through the lens of an expressivist theory. I don’t mean to defend such a theory in this paper, and indeed I have cast doubts on the ultimate prospects of the framework I will be employing here elsewhere.1 But I do think that seeing what an expressivist theory of truth would look like helps to shed light on both expressivism and on truth. (shrink)
I think it often happens, for various reasons, that philosophers defend radical views which, first, are too radical to be plausible, and second, are such that a less radical and more plausible view would satisfy the underlying motivations. Here is a historical example. The logical positivists famously sought to eliminate traditional metaphysics by arguing that the statements metaphysicians make are meaningless because of being unverifiable. Much of the ensuing discussion concerned whether verifiability is really necessary for meaningfulness. But clearly, even (...) if the logical positivists were wrong about this, they could still have a strong case for the elimination of metaphysics. For already if they could establish that the statements made by metaphysicians are unverifiable. If we cannot obtain good evidence for or against the statements of metaphysics, surely metaphysics is a pointless enterprise. I will argue here that we find another instance of the same general phenomenon in the debate abouttruth. I think deflationists defend a radical doctrine – and a problematic one – where a less radical doctrine, which I will call (sophisticated) rejectionism, would satisfy the underlying motivations equally well. Roughly, this less radical doctrine is the doctrine that the only use we have for a truth predicate is expressive. What I will do here is to explain what this rejectionist view is, how it differs from deflationism, and how it satisfies the motivations underlying deflationism. I will not actually defend the rejectionist view. In fact, I believe it is false. All I want to argue is that much effort spent on arguing for and against deflationism is better spent arguing for and against rejectionism. (shrink)
The setting of relativistic ideas abouttruth 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, (...) class='Hi'>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)
Paul Horwich aims to apply some the lessons of deflationism abouttruth to the debate about the nature of a theory of meaning. Having pacified the philosophical debate abouttruth to his satisfaction, he wants to use a bridge between truth and meaning to extend the same peace−making techniques into new territory. His goal is to make the debate about meaning more hospitable for an account based on use, by showing that certain apparent (...) obstacles to such a theory are illusory, given deflationism abouttruth. (shrink)
In reply to Geach's objection against expressivism, some have claimed that there is a plurality of truth predicates. I raise a difficulty for this claim: valid inferences can involve sentences assessable by any truth predicate, corresponding to 'lightweight' truth as well as to 'heavyweight' truth. To account for this, some unique truth predicate must apply to all sentences that can appear in inferences. Mixed inferences remind us of a central platitude abouttruth: (...) class='Hi'>truth is what is preserved in valid inferences. The question is why we should postulate truth predicates that do not satisfy this platitude. (shrink)
In this paper, we present a framework in which we analyze three riddles abouttruth that are all (originally) due to Smullyan. We start with the riddle of the yes-no brothers and then the somewhat more complicated riddle of the da-ja brothers is studied. Finally, we study the Hardest Logic Puzzle Ever (HLPE). We present the respective riddles as sets of sentences of quotational languages , which are interpreted by sentence-structures. Using a revision-process the consistency of these sets (...) is established. In our formal framework we observe some interesting dissimilarities between HLPE’ s available solutions that were hidden due to their previous formulation in natural language. Finally, we discuss more recent solutions to HLPE which, by means of self-referential questions , reduce the number of questions that have to be asked in order to solve HLPE . Although the essence of the paper is to introduce a framework that allows us to formalize riddles abouttruth that do not involve self-reference, we will also shed some formal light on the self-referential solutions to HLPE. (shrink)
Functionalism abouttruth is the view that truth is an explanatorily significant but multiply-realizable property. According to this view the properties that realize truth vary from domain to domain, but the property of truth is a single, higher-order, domain insensitive property. We argue that this view faces a challenge similar to the one that Jaegwon Kim laid out for the multiple realization thesis. The challenge is that the higher-order property of truth is equivalent to (...) an explanatorily idle disjunction of its realization bases. This consequence undermines the alethic functionalists’ non-deflationary ambitions. A plausible response to Kim’s argument fails to carry over to alethic functionalism on account of significant differences between alethic functionalism and psychological functionalism. Lynch’s revised view in his book Truth as One and Many ( 2009 ) fails to answer our challenge. The upshot is that, while mental functionalism may survive Kim’s argument, it mortally wounds functionalism abouttruth. (shrink)
In the paper I describe John MacFarlane’s version of relativism abouttruth. I begin by discussing Twardowski’s (1900) and Kokoszynska’s (1948; 1951) arguments against relativism. They think — just as Haack does (see 2011) — that sentences may be relatively true, if they are incomplete, but once they are completed they become true (or false) absolutely. MacFarlane distinguishes between nonindexical contextualism (which was anticipated by Kokoszynska (sic!)) and relativism which requires the introduction of the context of assessment. According (...) to him only the view which postulates double-indexed (to contexts of utterance and to contexts of assessments) truth is able to explain disagreement in subjective domains and contradicting intuitions about the truth-value of future-contingents. (shrink)
I develop a view of the common factor between subjectively indistinguishable perceptions and hallucinations that avoids analyzing experiences as involving awareness relations to abstract entities, sense-data, or any other peculiar entities. The main thesis is that hallucinating subjects employ concepts (or analogous nonconceptual structures), namely the very same concepts that in a subjectively indistinguishable perception are employed as a consequence of being related to external, mind-independent objects or property-instances. These concepts and nonconceptual structures are identified with modes of presentation types. (...) Since a hallucinating subject is not related to any such objects or property-instances, the concepts she employs remain empty. I argue that the phenomenology of hallucinations and perceptions can be identified with employing concepts and analogous nonconceptual structures. By doing so, I defend an ontologically minimalist view of the phenomenology of experience that (1) vindicates Aristotelianism about types and (2) amounts to a naturalized view of the phenomenology of experience. (shrink)
Relativism offers a nifty way of accommodating most of our intuitions about epistemic modals, predicates of personal taste, color expressions, future contingents, and conditionals. But in spite of its manifest merits relativism is squarely at odds with epistemic value monism: the view that truth is the highest epistemic goal. I will call the argument from relativism to epistemic value pluralism the trivial argument for epistemic value pluralism. After formulating the argument, I will look at three possible ways to (...) refute it. I will then argue that two of these are unsuccessful, and defend the third, which involves denying that there are any genuinely relative truths. (shrink)
We provide a 'verisimilitudinarian' analysis of the well-known Linda paradox or conjunction fallacy, i.e., the fact that most people judge the probability of the conjunctive statement "Linda is a bank teller and is active in the feminist movement" (B & F) as more probable than the isolated statement "Linda is a bank teller" (B), contrary to an uncontroversial principle of probability theory. The basic idea is that experimental participants may judge B & F a better hypothesis about Linda as (...) compared to B because they evaluate B & F as more verisimilar than B. In fact, the hypothesis "feminist bank teller", while less likely to be true than "bank teller", may well be a better approximation to the truthabout Linda. (shrink)
Abstract. The aim of this paper is first to defend the intuition that truth is grounded in how things are and, second, to argue that this fact is consistent with Minimalism. After having cashed out that intuition in terms of explanatory claims of the form ‘if it is true that p, it is true that p because p’, I set out an argument against Minimalism which is based on the same intuition, and I argue that a strategy (...) the minimalist could adopt to resist the argument, i.e. to deny the correctness of the intuition, is flawed. Then I explain why the intuition is correct and I make some claims concerning the kind of explanations which are involved in it. Now the stage is set up to present the right way for the minimalist to resist the argument. I finally answer some objections. (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)
Internalism is an explanatory strategy that makes the internal structure and constitution of the organism a basis for the investigation of its external function and the ways in which it is embedded in an environment. It is opposed to an externalist explanatory strategy, which takes its departure from observations about external function and mind-environment interactions, and infers and rationalizes internal organismic structure from that. This paper addresses the origins of truth, a basic ingredient in the human conceptual scheme. (...) I suggest the necessity of pursuing an internalist line of explanation for it, as adopted in the biolinguistic program and generative grammar at large. According to this view, the concept of truth is a presupposition for the way language is used in relation to the world, rather than a function of that use or a consequence of language-world relations. (shrink)
Tarski’s pioneering work on truth has been thought by some to motivate a robust, correspondence-style theory of truth, and by others to motivate a deflationary attitude toward truth. I argue that Tarski’s work suggests neither; if it motivates any contemporary theory of truth, it motivates conceptual primitivism, the view that truth is a fundamental, indefinable concept. After outlining conceptual primitivism and Tarski’s theory of truth, I show how the two approaches to truth share (...) much in common. While Tarski does not explicitly accept primitivism, the view is open to him, and fits better with his formal work on truth than do correspondence or deflationary theories. Primitivists, in turn, may rely on Tarski’s insights in motivating their own perspective on truth. I conclude by showing how viewing Tarski through the primitivist lens provides a fresh response to some familiar charges from Putnam and Etchemendy. (shrink)
This essay responds to Jeff Malpas's foregoing article, itself written in response to my various publications over the past two decades concerning Donald Davidson's ideas abouttruth, meaning, and interpretation. It has to do mainly with our disagreement as regards the substantive content of Davidson's truth-based semantic approach in relation to the problematic legacy of logical empiricism, including Quine's incisive but no less problematical critique of that legacy. I also raise questions with respect to Malpas's coupling of (...) Davidson with Heidegger, intended to provide a more adequate depth-ontological grounding for the formalized (logico-semantic) conception of truth that Davidson adopts from Tarski. My essay then argues the case for an outlook of objectivist causal realism joined with a theory of inference to the best, most rational explanation that would satisfy this need in more philosophically (as well as scientifically) accountable terms. (shrink)
I want to discuss a puzzle about the semantics of epistemic modals, like “It might be the case that” as it occurs in “It might be the case that Goldbach’s conjecture is false.”1 I’ll argue that the puzzle cannot be adequately explained on standard accounts of the semantics of epistemic modals, and that a proper solution requires relativizing utterance truth to a context of assessment, a semantic device whose utility and coherence I have defended elsewhere for future contingents (...) (MacFarlane.. (shrink)
According to the iterative conception of set, sets can be arranged in a cumulative hierarchy divided into levels. But why should we think this to be the case? The standard answer in the philosophical literature is that sets are somehow constituted by their members. In the first part of the paper, I present a number of problems for this answer, paying special attention to the view that sets are metaphysically dependent upon their members. In the second part of the paper, (...) I outline a different approach, which circumvents these problems by dispensing with the priority or dependence relation altogether. Along the way, I show how this approach enables the mathematical structuralist to defuse an objection recently raised against her view. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to give a detailed reconstruction of Frege's solution to his puzzle about the cognitive function of truth, which is this: On the one hand, the concept of truth seems to play an essential role in acquiring knowledge because the transition from the mere hypothetical assumption that p to the acknowledgement of its truth is a crucial step in acquiring the knowledge that p, while, on the other hand, this concept seems (...) to be completely redundant because the sense of the word 'true' does not make any essential contribution to the senses of the sentences in which it occurs. (shrink)
Consider truth predicates. Minimalist analyses of truth predicates may involve commitment to some of the following claims: (i) truth “predicates” are not genuine predicates -- either because the truth “predicate” disappears under paraphrase or translation into deep structure, or because the truth “predicate” is shown to have a non-predicative function by performative or expressivist analysis, or because truth “predicates” must be traded in for predicates of the form “true-in-L”; (ii) truth predicates express ineligible, (...) non-natural, gerrymandered properties; (iii) truth predicates express metaphysically lightweight properties; (iv) truth predicates have thin conceptual roles; (v) truth predicates express properties with no hidden essence; (vi) truth predicates express properties which have no causal or explanatory role in canonical formulations of fundamental theories. (shrink)
The past decade has marked a period of significant development for pluralist theories of truth. This paper utilizes several distinctions to categorize the current theoretical landscape, and then compares the theoretical structure of four pluralist theories—namely, strong alethic pluralism, alethic disjunctivism, second-order functionalism, and manifestation functionalism. We conclude by arguing that it is difficult for adherents of the three other pluralist views to reject the viability of some form of alethic disjunctivism. By this we mean that, by the lights (...) of each of these other views, there is a disjunctive truth property that ought to qualify as a legitimate truth property. (shrink)
This paper pursues two goals. The first is to show that Horwich's anti-primitivist version of minimalism must be rejected because, already for formal reasons, the truth-schema does not achieve a positive explication of any property of propositions. The second goal is to develop a more moderate primitivist version of minimalism according to which the truth-schema is admittedly powerless to underpin truth with something more basic but it still succeeds in giving a complete account of the (...) necessary and sufficient conditions for a proposition to be true. (shrink)
In this paper I will argue that Crispin Wright’s defence of the claim that the truthabout intention is judgement-dependent is unstable because it can serve also to establish that the truthabout shape is judgement-dependent, thereby violating his constraint that in developing the distinction between judgement-independent and judgement-dependent subject matters we have to be driven by the assumption that colour and shape will fall on different sides of the divide.
The Opening Chapter of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, called "Sense Certainty," is brief: 283 lines or about seven and a half pages in the critical edition of Hegel's works (GW 9:63–70). Just over half the text is devoted to a series of thought experiments1 that focus on "the Here" and "the Now" as the two basic forms of immediate sensuous particularity Hegel calls "the This." The chapter's main goal is to demonstrate that, in truth, the object of sense (...) certainty is precisely the opposite of what it purports to be: "the This" is mediated abstract universality. However, not just the truth of Hegel's claim but its very meaning has been the subject of dispute from early on.2 A currently influential interpretive .. (shrink)
Book Information A Common Humanity: Thinking aboutLove and Truth and Justice. A Common Humanity: Thinking aboutLove and Truth and Justice Raimond Gaita London Routledge 2000 xxxi, 293 Hardback £17.99 By Raimond Gaita. Routledge. London. Pp. xxxi, 293. Hardback:£17.99.
Is Leo Strauss truly an intellectual forebear of neoconservatism and a powerful force in shaping Bush administration foreign policy? The Truthabout Leo Strauss puts this question to rest, revealing for the first time how the popular media came to perpetuate such an oversimplified view of such a complex and wide-ranging philosopher. More important, it corrects our perception of Strauss, providing the best general introduction available to the political thought of this misunderstood figure. Catherine and Michael Zuckert—both former (...) students of Strauss—guide readers here to a nuanced understanding of how Strauss’s political thought fits into his broader philosophy. Challenging the ideas that Strauss was an inflexible conservative who followed in the footsteps of Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Carl Schmitt, the Zuckerts contend that Strauss’s signature idea was the need for a return to the ancients. This idea, they show, stemmed from Strauss’s belief that modern thought, with its relativism and nihilism, undermines healthy politics and even the possibility of real philosophy. Identifying this view as one of Strauss’s three core propositions—America is modern, modernity is bad, and America is good—they conclude that Strauss was a sober defender of liberal democracy, aware of both its strengths and its weaknesses. The Zuckerts finish, appropriately, by examining the varied work of Strauss’s numerous students and followers, revealing the origins—rooted in the tensions within his own thought—oftheir split into opposing camps. Balanced and accessible, The Truthabout Leo Strauss is a must-read for anyone who wants to more fully comprehend this enigmatic philosopher and his much-disputed legacy. (shrink)
In this paper I am going to inquire to what extent the main requirements of a minimalist theory of truth and falsity (as formulated, for example, by Horwich and Field) can be consistently implemented in a formal theory. I will discuss several of the existing logical theories of truth, including Tarski-type (un)definability results, Kripke’s partial interpretation of truth and falsity, Barwise and Moss’ theory based upon non-well-founded sets, McGee’s treatment of truth as a vague predicate, and (...) Hintikka’s languages of imperfect information, to see which axioms of the minimalist theory they satisfy or fail to satisfy. Finally, I will discuss the relation between the minimalist program and compositionality. (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)
This comment on Steven Boer's “Object-Dependent Thoughts” develops two examples: (1) a counterexample to the "axiom of the seamlessness of truth," namely, that there are no propositions, one true and one false, such that knowing the true one requires believing the false one; (2) a story about the first sighting of Neptune, by John Galle on September 23, 1846, that illustrates how one can understand Galle's remark "That is the planet whose position Leverrier calculated" without believing that there (...) is something to which Galle refers. (shrink)
I here develop a specific version of the deflationary theory of truth. I adopt a terminology on which deflationism holds that an exhaustive account of truth is given by the equivalence between truth-ascriptions and de-nominalised (or disquoted) sentences. An adequate truth-theory, it is argued, must be finite, non-circular, and give a unified account of all occurrences of “true”. I also argue that it must descriptively capture the ordinary meaning of “true”, which is plausibly taken to be (...) unambiguous. Ch. 2 is a critical historical survey of deflationary theories, where notably disquotationalism is found untenable as a descriptive theory of “true”. In Ch. 3, I aim to show that deflationism cannot be finitely and non-circularly formulated by using “true”, and so must only mention it. Hence, it must be a theory specifically about the word “true” (and its foreign counterparts). To capture the ordinary notion, the theory must thus be an empirical, use-theoretic, semantic account of “true”. The task of explaining facts abouttruth now becomes that of showing that various sentences containing “true” are (unconditionally) assertible. In Ch. 4, I defend the claim (D) that every sentence of the form “That p is true” and the corresponding “p” are intersubstitutable (in a use-theoretic sense), and show how this claim provides a unified and simple account of a wide variety of occurrences of “true”. Disquotationalism then only has the advantage of avoiding propositions. But in Ch. 5, I note that (D) is not committed to propositions. Use-theoretic semantics is then argued to serve nominalism better than truth-theoretic ditto. In particular, it can avoid propositions while sustaining a natural syntactic treatment of “that”-clauses as singular terms and of “Everything he says is true”, as any other quantification. Finally, Horwich’s problem of deriving universal truth-claims is given a solution by recourse to an assertibilist semantics of the universal quantifier. (shrink)
Those who endorse correspondence theories of truth or truthmaker maximalism accept that corresponding to the world (or having a truthmaker) is a necessary condition for being true. This condition has been criticized recently, but the arguments of these objections are unsound. Instead, I argue that by reflecting on the truthmakers for sentences containing ‘true’, we see that ‘every truth has a truthmaker’ has several unacceptable consequences, the most serious of which is that it is self-refuting. It follows that (...) correspondence theories of truth and truthmaker maximalism are unacceptable. (shrink)
It seems that every singular proposition implies that the object it is singular with respect to exists. It also seems that some propositions are true with respect to possible worlds in which they do not exist. The puzzle is that it can be argued that there is contradiction between these two principles. In this paper, I explain the puzzle and consider some of the ways one might attempt to resolve it. The puzzle is important because it has implications concerning the (...) way we think about the relationship between a proposition and the claim that the proposition is true. (shrink)
In recent discussions of the problem of truth, Austin's views have been largely overlooked. This is unfortunate, since many of his criticisms aimed at Strawson's redundancy theory carry over to more recent incarnations of deflationism. And unlike contemporary versions of the correspondence theory of truth, Austin's manages properly to situate truth in its conceptual neighbourhood wherein it belongs to “a whole dimension of different appraisals which have something or other to do with the relation between what we (...) say and the facts.” A proper analysis of truth cannot be given apart from a broader study of speech acts. (shrink)
This paper argues that the concept of truth cannot be explained with the help of the idea of justification under ideal conditions. Truth is not a regulative idea. The attempt to replace a metaphysical correspondence theory of truth with one that is conceptually epistemic does not provide an exit from metaphysics. Truth and its justification do not coincide with reference to the ascription of judgements and beliefs. To save the normative power of truth no Archemedean (...) point is needed. (shrink)
Recently, Paul Horwich has developed the minimalist theory of truth, according to which the truth predicate does not express a substantive property, though it may be used as a grammatical expedient. Minimalism shares these claims with Quine’s disquotationalism; it differs from disquotationalism primarily in holding that truth-bearers are propositions, rather than sentences. Despite potential ontological worries, allowing that propositions bear truth gives Horwich a prima facie response to several important objections to disquotationalism. In section I (...) of this paper, disquotationalism is given a careful exegesis, in which seven known objections are traced to the disquotational schema, and two new objections are raised. A version of disquotationalism which avoids two of the seven known objections is recommended. In section II, an examination of minimalism shows that it faces eight of the nine objections facing disquotationalism, plus a new objection. In section III, a finite formulation of minimalism proposed by Ernest Sosa is shown to meet five of the nine objections facing disquotationalism as well as the objection new to minimalism, though it faces another new objection. (shrink)
Creeping minimalism threatens to cloud the distinction between realist and anti-realist metaethical views. When anti-realist views equip themselves with minimalist theories of truth and other semantic notions, they are able to take on more and more of the doctrines of realism (such as the existence of moral truths, facts, and beliefs). But then they start to look suspiciously like realist views. I suggest that creeping minimalism is a problem only if moral realism is understood primarily as a (...) semantic doctrine. I argue that moral realism is better understood instead as a metaphysical doctrine. As a result, we can usefully regiment the metaethical debate into one about moral truthmakers: in virtue of what are moral judgments true? I show how the notion of truthmaking has been simmering just below the surface of the metaethical debate, and how it reveals one metaethical view (quasi-realism) to be a stronger contender than the others. (shrink)
What I am calling New Age Relativism is usually proposed as a thesis about the truth-conditions of utterances, where an utterance is an actual historic voicing or inscription of a sentence of a certain type. Roughly, it is the view that, for certain discourses, whether an utterance is true depends not just on the context of its making—when, where, to whom, by whom, in what language, and so on—and the “circumstances of evaluation”—the state of the world in relevant (...) respects—but also on an additional parameter: a context of assessment. Vary the latter and the truth-value of the utterance can vary, even though the context of its making and the associated state of the world remain fixed. (shrink)
Recently a number of writers have argued that a new form of relativism involves a form of semantic context-dependence which helps it escape the perhaps most common objection to ordinary contextualism; that it cannot accommodate our intuitions about disagreement. I argue: (i) In order to evaluate this claim we have to pay closer attention to the nature of our intuitions about disagreement. (ii) We have different such intuitions concerning different questions: we have more stable disagreement intuitions about (...) moral disputes than about, say, disputes about matters of taste. (iii) The new form of relativism does not vindicate the stable intuitions about disagreement. (iv) It does a better job explaining the unstable intuitions than contextualism. But, pace some relativists, it is not clear that assertion-truth rather than just proposition-truth has to be relativized to accomplish this. (shrink)
I think that there are good reasons to adopt a relativist semantics for epistemic modal claims such as ``the treasure might be under the palm tree'', according to which such utterances determine a truth value relative to something finer-grained than just a world (or a <world, time> pair). Anyone who is inclined to relativise truth to more than just worlds and times faces a problem about assertion. It's easy to be puzzled about just what purpose would (...) be served by assertions of this kind, and how to understand what we'd be up to in our use of sentences like ``the treasure might be under the palm tree'', if they have such peculiar truth conditions. After providing a very quick argument to motivate a relativist view of epistemic modals, I bring out and attempt to resolve this problem in making sense of the role of assertions with relativist truth conditions. Solving this problem should be helpful in two ways: first, it eliminates an apparently forceful objection to relativism, and second, spelling out the relativist account of assertion and communication will help to make clear just what the relativist position is, exactly, and why it's interesting. (shrink)
Relativism, in the sense at issue here, is a view about the meaning of knowledge attributions—statements of the form “S knows that p.” Like contextualism, it holds that the truth of knowledge claims is sensitive to contextual factors, such as which alternatives are relevant at the context, or how high the stakes are. For the relativist, however, the relevant context is the context from which the knowledge claim is being assessed, not the context at which it was made.
Cappelen and Hawthorne tell us that the most basic, explanatory notion of truth is a monadic property of propositions. Other notions of truth, including those applying to sentences, are to be explained in terms of it. Among them are those found in Kripkean, Montagovian, and Kaplanean semantic theories, and their descendants – to wit truth at a context, at a circumstance, and at a context-plus-circumstance. If these are to make sense, the authors correctly maintain, they must be (...) explained in terms of the monadic notion of truth. (1-2) I thought that this was the received view, but the authors indicate otherwise. They describe possible-worlds semantics as making it “very natural to think of the foundational mode of evaluation for propositions as truth relative to worlds.”(7) I disagree. The natural way to understand possible worlds-semantics is to take world-states to be certain kinds of properties, and to take the truth of p at w to be the fact that p would be true (i.e. would instantiate monadic truth) were the universe to instantiate w. The authors add that it is somewhat natural to take “the actual truth of a proposition as [being] a matter of the proposition getting the value ‘true’ relative to a distinguished world -- the actual world.” (7) If this means that being actually true is being true at the actual world-state @, this isn’t just natural, it is unassailable -- as long as one doesn’t erroneously identify being true with being actually true. Since Cappelen and Hawthorne don’t do this, I take us to be on more or less the same page. Others, apparently, aren’t. We are told that “a number of the participants in the relevant disputes [about relativism] seem to take it for granted that philosophical semantics has somehow shown that the semantic value of sentences cannot be evaluated for truth or falsity simpliciter, since truth and falsity hold of a proposition relative to a world.” (77-8) We are also told: 1 Contemporary Analytic relativists reason as follows: ‘Lewis and Kaplan have shown that we need to relativize truth to triples of .. (shrink)
Herman Cappelen and John Hawthorne’s Relativism and Monadic Truth presses a number of worries about relativistic content. It forces one to think carefully about what a relativist should mean by saying that speakers disagree or contradict one another in asserting such content. My focus is on this question, though at points (in particular in Sect. 4) I touch on other issues Cappelen and Hawthorne (CH) raise.
This paper argues against relativism, focusing on relativism based on the semantics of predicates of personal taste. It presents and defends a contextualist semantics for these predicates, derived from current work on gradable adjectives. It then considers metasemantic questions about the kinds of contextual parameters this semantics requires. It argues they are not metasemantically different from those in other gradable adjectives, and that contextual parameters of this sort are widespread in natural language. Furthermore, this paper shows that if such (...) parameters are rejected, it leads to an unacceptably rampant form of relativism, that relativizes truth to an open-ended list of parameters. (shrink)
In the paper we argue that truth-relativism is potentially hostage to a problem of exhibiting witnesses of its own truth. The problem for the relativist stems from acceptance of a trumping principle according to which there is a dependency between ascriptions of truth of an utterance and ascriptions of truth to other ascriptions of truth of that utterance. We argue that such a dependency indeed holds in the case of future contingents and the case of (...) epistemic modals and that, consequently, the relativist about these domains cannot exhibit witnesses to his relativism. In the appendix we provide some results on the relation between trumping and multi-order relativism. (shrink)
It has recently been argued that certain areas of discourse, such as discourse about matters of taste, involve a phenomenon of ‘‘faultless disagreement’’ that rules out giving a standard realist or contextualist semantics for them. Thus, it is argued, we are left with no choice but to consider more adventurous semantic alternatives for these areas, such as a semantic account that involves relativizing truth to perspectives or contexts of assessment. I argue that the sort of faultless disagreement present (...) in these cases is in fact compatible with a realist treatment of their semantics. Then I briefly consider other considerations that might be thought to speak against realism about these areas of discourse. I conclude with the tentative suggestion that realism about matters of taste is far more plausible (at least in some cases) than most philosophers believe today. (shrink)
Richard on truth and commitment Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-9 DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9795-1 Authors John MacFarlane, Department of Philosophy, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
Both context relativists and circumstance-of-evaluation relativists agree that the traditional semantic interpretation of some sentence-types fails to deliver the adequate truth-conditions for the corresponding tokens. But while the context relativists argue that the truth-conditions of each token depend on its context of utterance—each token being thus associated with a distinct intension—circumstance-of-evaluation relativists preserve a unique intension for all the tokens by placing circumstances of evaluations under the influence of a certain ‘point of view’. The main difference between the (...) two approaches is that only the former can operate locally. It is shown that, for this reason, circumstance-of-evaluation relativism makes erroneous semantic predictions about (relative) gradable adjectives. (shrink)
In this paper I argue against Divers and Miller's 'Lightness of Being' objection to Hale and Wright's neo-Fregean Platonism. According to the 'Lightness of Being' objection, the neo-Fregean Platonist makes existence too cheap: the same principles which allow her to argue that numbers exist also allow her to claim that fictional objects exist. I claim that this is no objection at all" the neo-Fregean Platonist should think that fictional characters exist. However, the pluralist approach to truth developed by WQright (...) in 'Truth and Objectivity' allows us to salvage our intuitions about the metaphysicial lightweightness of fictional characters: truth for discourse about fictional characters fails to exert 'Cognityive Command', whereas truthabout arithmetic does. (shrink)
Contra Lewis, it is argued that the correspondence theory is a genuine rival theory of truth: it goes beyond the redundancy theory; it competes with other theories of truth; it is aptly summarized by the slogan 'truth is correspondence to fact'; and it really is a theory of truth.
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 minimalismabouttruth. It is thought that the appeal to truth-conditions in a theory of meaning is incompatible with deflationism abouttruth, and so the growing popularity of deflationism threatens truth-condition theories of meaning.
Minimalismabouttruth-aptitude, if correct, would undercut expressivism about moral discourse. Indeed, it would undercut nonfactualism about any area of discourse. But it cannot be correct, for there are areas, about which people hold beliefs and make statements, to which nonfactualism uncontroversially applies. Or so I will argue. I will be thereby challenging John Divers and Alexander Miller’s  appeal to minimalismabouttruth-aptitude in defending a certain argument against expressivism (...) class='Hi'>about value. But I will not be defending expressivism. For what is wrong with minimalismabouttruth-aptitude is, in my view, also what is wrong with expressivism: both mistakenly assume that for an utterance to qualify as a statement or a psychological state as a belief, it must be capable of being true or false. (shrink)
Expressivism's problem in solving the Frege/Geach problem concerning unasserted contexts is evaluated in the light of Blackburn's own methodological commitment to assessing philosophical theories in terms of costs and benefits, notably quasi-realism's aim of minimising the ontological commitments of a broadly naturalistic worldview. The problem emerges when a competitor theory can explain the same phenomena at lower cost: the minimalist abouttruth has no problem with unasserted contexts whereas the quasi-realist/expressivist package does. However, this form of projectivism is (...) supposed to be a local and contrastive thesis or the central metaphor of projection makes no sense. So in competition with minimalism, projectivism must - at least for non-contested areas of thought and language - presuppose non-minimal truth. This casts new light on Blackburn's proposal globally to revise the relations between logic and truth so as to model ethical discourse as tracking a notion of commitment to contents that can be either attitudinal or truh evaluable. Why globally revise logic, in order solely to explain the problem of unasserted contexts, when a rival view can do so much better according to the standards set by the quasi-realist? Why do so when a notion of non-minimal truth and a classical explanation of logic are already available to you, given the local and contrastive claims of quasi-realism? (shrink)
Abstract Our ambivalent attitudes toward the notion of ‘a life worth living’ present a philosophical puzzle: Why are we of two minds about the birth of a severely disabled child? Is the child’s life worth living or not worth living? Between these two apparently incompatible evaluative judgments, which is true? If one judgment is true and the other false, what makes us continue to find both evaluations appealing? Indeed, how can we manage to hold these inconsistent judgments simultaneously at (...) all? I critically examine two solutions to this puzzle: the hidden-indexical account and Velleman’s anti-realist account. I propose an alternative explanation which appeals to (a) state-given, as opposed to object-given, reasons for belief and (b) the distinction between belief and acceptance. I argue that (1) the fact that a severely disabled life is not worth living provides object-given reason to believe that that life is not worth living, but (2) after the birth of a severely disabled child, the psychological utility of positive evaluation gives us a state-given reason to believe that that child’s life is worth living, and a reason to accept that, in our relation with the child, her life is worth living. I conclude by drawing a practical lesson about wrongful life suits. Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-19 DOI 10.1007/s11098-012-9877-8 Authors Hyunseop Kim, New York University, New York, NY, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116. (shrink)
Powerful and timely, A Common Humanity asks why the language of morality has failed us. Drawing on examples of the Holocaust, the David Irving affair, the case of Mary Bell and the treatment of the Aborigines in Australia, Raimond Gaita challenges our received thinking about evil in this provocative exploration of what makes an ethical society.
This paper examines Harold Garfinkel's notion of the natural attitude about sex and his claim that it is fundamentally moral in nature. The author looks beneath the natural attitude in order to explain its peculiar resilience and oppressive force. There she reveals a moral order grounded in the dichotomously sexed bodies so constituted through boundaries governing privacy and decency. In particular, naked bodies are sex-differentiated within a system of genital representation through gender presentation—a system that helps constitute the very (...) boundaries between the public and private. (shrink)
This paper argues against minimalismabouttruth. It does so by way of acomparison of the theory of truth with the theory of sets, and considerationof where paradoxes may arise in each. The paper proceeds by asking twoseemingly unrelated questions. First, what is the theory of truthabout?Answering this question shows that minimalism bears important similaritiesto naive set theory. Second, why is there no strengthened version ofRussell's paradox, as there is a strengthened Liar (...) paradox? Answering thisquestion shows that like naive set theory, minimalism is unable to makeadequate progress in resolving the paradoxes, and must be replaced by adrastically different sort of theory. Such a theory, it is shown, must befundamentally non-minimalist. (shrink)
Most people know precious little about the risks and benefits of participating in a clinical trial--a medical research study involving some innovative treatment for a medical problem. Yet millions of people each year participate anyway. Patients at Risk explains the reality: that our current system intentionally hides much of the information people need to make the right choice about whether to participate. Witness the following scenarios: -Hundreds of patients with colon cancer undergo a new form of keyhole surgery (...) at leading cancer centersnever -Tens of thousands of women at high risk of developing breast cancer are asked to participate in a major research study. They are told about the option of having both breasts surgically removed but not told about the option of taking a standard osteoporosis pill that might cut the risk of getting breast cancer by one-half or more. Patients at Risk written by two nationally prominent experts, is the first book to reveal the secrets that many in the research establishment have fought long and hard to keep from patients. It shows why options not commonly knownincluding getting a new treatment outside of a research studycan often be the best choice. It explains how patients can make good decisions even if there is only limited information about a treatments effect. And it does this through the eye-opening stories of what is happening daily to thousands of people. Day after day, we are learning how little we know about what really works. Headlines regularly announce that a previously unquestioned treatmenthormone replacement therapy, drugs such as Vioxx or Celebrexmay now be much riskier than we thought. The latest book in a surge of recent books criticizing the medical establishment (but the first to look at clinical trials specifically), Patients at Risk helps to empower patients to survive in a world of medical uncertainty, and makes positive recommendations for systemic reform. (shrink)