Disquotationalism is the view that the only notion of truth we really need is one that can be wholly explained in terms of such trivialities as: “Snow is white” is true iff snow is white. The 'Classical Disquotational Strategy' attempts to establish this view case by case, by showing that each extant appeal to truth, in philosophical or scientific explanations, can be unmasked as an appeal only to disquotational truth. I argue here that the Classical Strategy fails in at least (...) two cases: attributions of truth to context-dependent utterances and uses of truth psychological explanations of behavioral success or, more fundamentally, appeals to falsity in psychological explanations of behavioral failure. -/- It's my intention to turn this paper into two papers. It's become quite unwieldy as it is---not unlike "The Strength of Truth Theories". (shrink)
It has been known for some time that context-dependence poses a problem for disquotationalism, but the problem has largely been regarded as one of detail: one that will be solved by the right sort of cleverness. I argue here that the problem is one of principle and that extant solutions, which are based upon the notion of translation, cannot succeed.
According to Lehrer’s defeasibility account of knowledge, we can understand knowledge as undefeated justified true belief. But this account faces many serious problems. One important problem is that from one’s subjective point of view, one can hardly bridge the gap between one’s personal justification and objective truth. Another important problem is that this account can hardly accommodate the externalist intuition that the epistemic status of a belief is not entirely determined by factors that are internal to the subject’s perspective. The (...) goal of this paper is to offer an alternative account of knowledge which can successfully deal with these problems. On the basis of a Sellarsian social practice theory of justification, I argue that we can understand knowledge as objectively justified belief. (shrink)
Methodological deflationism is a policy about how we should conduct ourselves when it comes to theories of truth: in particular, a deflationary theory of truth should be taken as one’s starting point, and the notion of truth should be inflated only as necessary. This policy is motivated, in part, by the need to balance the theoretical virtue of parsimony with that of explanatory sufficiency. In this article, the case is made that the methodological deflationist is in no position to properly (...) balance those virtues—a point made evident by tracing the relationship between semantic theories and the explanatory needs of theories of truth. Furthermore, methodological deflationism threatens to unduly influence semantic theorizing and, in doing so, displays an inappropriate bias towards deflationary theories of truth. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss the so-called problem of creeping minimalism, the problem of distinguishing metaethical expressivism from its rivals once expressivists start accepting minimalist theories about truth, representation, belief, and similar concepts. I argue that Dreier’s ‘explanation’ explanation is almost correct, but by critically examining it we not only get a better solution, but also draw out some interesting results about expressivism and non-representationalist theories of meaning more generally.
Hilary Putnam’s Realism with a Human Face began with a quotation from Rilke, exhorting us to ‘try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue’. Putnam followed this advice throughout his life. His love for the questions permanently changed how we understand them. In Naturalism, Realism, and Normativity – published only a few weeks after his death – Putnam continued to explore central questions concerning realism and perception, from the (...) perspective of ‘liberal naturalism’. The volume’s thirteen papers were written over the past fifteen years (only one paper is new), and they show a man who fully inhabited the questions he loved. And the main significance of this book is that it shows – implicitly, but very clearly – quite how much of Putnam’s contribution to his philosophy is continuous with his ‘The Meaning of “Meaning”’. (shrink)
What do you know when you know what a sentence means? According to some theories, understanding a sentence is, in part, knowing its truth-conditions. Dorit Bar-On, Claire Horisk, and William Lycan have defended such theories on the grounds of an “epistemic determination argument”. That argument turns on the ideas that understanding a sentence, along with knowledge of the non-linguistic facts, suffices to know its truth-value, and that being able to determine a sentence’s truth-value given knowledge of the non-linguistic facts is (...) knowing its truth-conditions. I argue that the EDA withstands the objections recently raised by Daniel Cohnitz and Jaan Kangilaski, but fails for other reasons. It equivocates between a fine-grained and a coarse grained conception of “facts.”. (shrink)
Drawing on a rich pragmatist tradition, this book offers an account of the different kinds of ‘oughts’, or varieties of normativity, that we are subject to contends that there is no conflict between normativity and the world as science describes it. The authors argue that normative claims aim to evaluate, to urge us to do or not do something, and to tell us how a state of affairs ought to be. These claims articulate forms of action-guidance that are different in (...) kind from descriptive claims, with a wholly distinct practical and expressive character. This account suggests that there are no normative facts, and so nothing that needs any troublesome shoehorning into a scientific account of the world. This work explains that nevertheless, normative claims are constrained by the world, and answerable to reason and argumentation, in a way that makes them truth-apt and objective. (shrink)
A lot of us have given up on the idea that there will be a naturalistic account of the relation of semantic reference and so have resolved to formulate our theories of semantics and communication without appeal to semantic reference. Still, there is a resilient intuition to the effect that I know the extensions of the terms of my language. This paper explicates that intuition without yielding to it. The key idea is to give a “skeptical” account of what it (...) is to “know the meaning” of a word, by which I mean an account of the status that is granted to a person in saying that he or she “knows the meaning” of a word. (shrink)
В последние два-три года среди многочислен- ных проблем в отношении европейской и американской экономики все чаще стала упоминаться опасность дефляции. При этом в каче- стве примера рассматривается японская экономика, которая уже два десятилетия страдает от дефляции, несмотря на огромные раз- меры финансовых вливаний и усилия правительства разогнать ин- фляцию. В западных экономиках инфляция также низкая, времена- ми нулевая, переходящая в дефляцию. В целом есть основания счи- тать, что страны Европы заболевают «японской болезнью», а также что эта «болезнь» может прогрессировать либо (...) носить хрониче- ский характер. В США, хотя и в меньшей степени, также имеются признаки этой «болезни». В результате финансовые вливания мо- гут стать, как и в Японии, постоянными. В разделе показаны при- чины этой проблемы, объяснена неравномерность процессов инфляции – дефляции в мире, сделаны прогнозы. (shrink)
The role of criteria in Wittgenstein’s philosophy The main objective of this article is to explain the role of the concept of a ‘criterion’ in Ludwig Wittgenstein’s philosophy. To do so, the author juxtaposes a few well‑known interpretations of this issue, and compares the notion of a criterion with the notion of a rule. Contrary to Peter M.S. Hacker’s reading, he points out that according to Wittgenstein, to give the ‘criteria of use’ of an expression is to determine its ‘grammar’. (...) To meet the criteria does not merely mean justifying the fact that a given thing occurs, but means that a given expression has an application under the particular conditions. Thus, there is no difference between the determination of the criteria of an expression’s use and the explication of its meaning. It should be noted that the fact that the expression ‘x’ has an application in a given situation does not always imply that the sentence ‘this is x’ is also true in this situation. The Wittgensteinian notion of a criterion is a semantical rather than an epistemological concept. Therefore, the conceived criteria cannot be used to reject scepticism, if by rejecting it we mean demonstrating its falsity. According to Wittgenstein, we can show at most that a sceptic, who rejects all criteria of use of words, cannot frame any doubts. (shrink)
Primarily a response to Paul Horwich's "Composition of Meanings", the paper attempts to refute his claim that compositionality—roughly, the idea that the meaning of a sentence is determined by the meanings of its parts and how they are there combined—imposes no substantial constraints on semantic theory or on our conception of the meanings of words or sentences. Show Abstract.
What is truth? -- Varieties of deflationism -- A defense of minimalism -- The value of truth -- A minimalist critique of Tarski -- Kripke's paradox of meaning -- Regularities, rules, meanings, truth conditions, and epistemic norms -- Semantics : what's truth got to do with it? -- The motive power of evaluative concepts -- Ungrounded reason -- The nature of paradox -- A world without 'isms' -- The quest for reality -- Being and truth -- Provenance of chapters.
My disagreement with the deflationist treatment of truth affects my attitude to Paul Horwich’s approach to meaning and intentionality. In my response I summarize objections to the deflationist account of truth developed in some detail in chapters 2, 7, and 12, and argue that the notion of intentionality should be treated naturalistically in a broader context than the context of the referential import of the locution “means that”.Minha discordância com a visão deflacionista da verdade afeta minha atitude em relação às (...) propostas deflacionistas de Paul Horwich para a intencio-nalidade. Em minha réplica faço um resumo das objeções ao deflacionismo em relação à verdade, detalhadas nos capítulos 2, 7 e 12, e argumento que a noção de intencionalidade deveria ser tratada naturalisticamente em um contexto mais amplo que o contexto do alcance referencial da locução “significa que”. (shrink)
The question whether semantics is a normative discipline can be formulated as a question about the meaning of the word “means”. If I assert, “The word ‘gatto’ in Italian means cat,” what have I done? The naturalist about meaning claims that I have asserted that a certain natural relation obtains between Italian speakers’ tokens of “gatto” and cats. Or at least, I have asserted something about the way Italian speakers use the word “gatto”, which way presumably has something to do (...) with cats. The normativist claims, on the contrary, that what I have said is that in speaking Italian one ought to use the word “gatto” in a certain way, which way has something to do with cats. What I have done is endorse a certain proposal about how to use the word, which, if accepted, will have normative force. (shrink)
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)
According to Horwich’s use theory of meaning, the meaning of a word W is engendered by the underived acceptance of certain sentences containing W. Horwich applies this theory to provide an account of semantic stipulation: Semantic stipulation proceeds by deciding to accept sentences containing an as yet meaningless word W. Thereby one brings it about that W gets an underived acceptance property. Since a word’s meaning is constituted by its (basic) underived acceptance property, this decision endows the word with a (...) meaning. The use-theoretic account of semantic stipulation contrasts with the standard view that semantic stipulation proceeds by assigning the meaning (reference) to W that makes a certain set of sentences express true propositions. In this paper I will argue that the use-theoretic account does not work. I take Frege to have already made the crucial point: "a definition does not assert anything but lays down something ["etwas festsetzt"]” (Frege 1899, 36). A semantic stipulation for W cannot be the decision to accept a sentence containing W or be explained in terms of such an acceptance. Semantic stipulation constitutes a problem for Horwich's use theory of meaning, especially his basic notion of acceptance. (shrink)
This paper spells out the positive theory sketched at the end of "Against Stepping Back".): According to deflationists, [p] is true is in some sense equivalent to p. The problem that the semantic paradoxes pose for the deflationist is to explicate this equivalence without relying on a semantics grounded in the sort of real reference relations that a deflationist thinks do not exist. More generally, the deflationist is challenged to give an account of logical validity that does not force us (...) to countenance such relations. (The usual model-theoretic definition seems to presuppose that there is some special interpretation, the intended interpretation, such that truth simpliciter is truth on that intended interpretation. So if the deflationist adopts this sort of definition, the deflationist will be challenged to identify the intended interpretation without positing real reference relations.) Fortunately, a precise semantics compatible with the deflationist philosophy can be had as follows: First, we define a context as a certain sort of set constructed from a basis of literals (atomic sentences and negations of atomic sentences). This formal account of contexts has to be supplemented with an account of the conditions under which a structure satisfying the formal definition is the structure of that kind pertinent ot a given conversation. For each syntactic type of sentence, we define the conditions under which a sentence of that type is assertible relative to a context. In particular, we define the conditions under which sentences of the form " [p] is true" are assertible in a context, and we define the conditions under which sentences of the form "[p] is assertible in context G" are assertible in a context. Finally, logical validity is defined as preservation of assertibility in a context. It is demonstrated that this approach to semantics resists the semantic paradoxes. (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.
I define T-schema deflationism as the thesis that a theory of truth for our language can simply take the form of certain instances of Tarski's schema (T). I show that any effective enumeration of these instances will yield as a dividend an effective enumeration of all truths of our language. But that contradicts Gödel's First Incompleteness Theorem. So the instances of (T) constituting the T-Schema deflationist's theory of truth are not effectively enumerable, which casts doubt on the idea that the (...) T-schema deflationist in any sense has a theory of truth. (The argument in section 2 of "Semantics for Deflationists" supercedes this paper.). (shrink)
Abstract Some philosophers find linguistic meaning mysterious. Two approaches suggest themselves for removing the felt mystery, or demystifying meaning. One involves providing a substantive account of meaning in meaning-free terms. Although this approach has come under serious attack in recent years, Paul Horwich has recently presented a version of the approach that might be thought impervious. A preliminary attempt is made to argue that Horwich's version is vulnerable to the considerations felt to undermine other versions of the substantive approach to (...) demystification. That leaves the second approach, quietism, which involves showing that although meaning is primitive it is un-mysterious. It is suggested that this approach is worthy of exploration. (shrink)
Kripke's puzzle about rule-following is a form of the traditional problem of the nature of linguistic meaning. A skeptical solution explains not what meaning is but the role that talk of meaning plays in the linguistic community. Contrary to what some have claimed, the skeptical approach is not self-refuting. However, Kripke's own skeptical solution is inadequate. He has not adequately explained the conditions under which we are justified in attributing meanings or the utility of the practice of attributing meanings. An (...) alternative skeptical solution may be founded on a nonepistemic conception of assertibility. Roughly, a sentence is assertible if it facilitates cooperation. The function of meaning-talk is to resolve certain sorts of conflicts in assertion. Attributions of meaning to persons outside the community may be a proper expression of a practice whose reason for being lies entirely within the community. -/- . (shrink)
Paul Horwich aims to apply some the lessons of deflationism about truth to the debate about the nature of a theory of meaning. Having pacified the philosophical debate about truth 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 about truth. (shrink)
After putting forward his celebrated deflationary theory of truth (Horwich, 1998a), Paul Horwich added a compatible theory of meaning (Horwich, 1998b). I am calling also this latter theory deflationism (although it may be a slightly misleading name in that, as Paul himself notes, his theory of meaning is deflationary more in the sense of being forced by the deflationary theory of truth than of being particularly deflationary in itself). In contrast, what I call inferentialism is the theory of meaning which (...) I am going to advocate here – the view, in a nutshell, that meaning is a matter of inferential role. Various versions of this theory have been defended by Wilfried Sellars, Robert Brandom and a couple of other philosophers including myself. And the thesis I wish to present in this paper – to put it as a provocation right off – is that Paul is an inferentialist led astray. Both deflationism and inferentialism can be seen as elaborations of what can be called the use theory of meaning; for both seem to agree that. (shrink)