A minimalist critique of Tarski on truth

In J. C. Beall & Bradley Armour-Garb (eds.), Deflationism and Paradox. Oxford University Press (2005)

Paul Horwich
New York University
This chapter contrasts Alfred Tarski's compositional conception (whereby the truth-values of sentences are explained in terms of the referential characteristics of their component words) unfavorably with minimalism (which relies merely on the schema, ‘(p) is true ↔ p’). First, it argues against Tarski that his approach is: (i) misdirected, insofar as it doesn't elucidate our actual concept of truth, which applies to propositions rather than sentences; (ii) ill-motivated, insofar as it reflects an insistence on explicit definitions; (iii) not generally workable, insofar as those definitions cannot devised for all the multifarious constructions that occur in natural languages; and (iv) pointless, insofar as it addresses no question worth answering. Second, it is shown that minimalism can be the basis for a superior treatment of the liar paradoxes. And, finally, a response is developed to the claim (Tarski, Gupta, Soames, Halbach) that Tarski-style compositional definitions are needed in order to accommodate generalizations about truth (e.g., that all instances of ‘p→p’ are true).
Keywords deflationary truth  Alfred Tarski  Lvov-Warsaw School
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2008
Buy the book Find it on Amazon.com
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 63,247
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Should the Non‐Classical Logician Be Embarrassed?Lucas Rosenblatt - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
Epistemicism and the Liar.Jamin Asay - 2015 - Synthese 192 (3):679-699.
This is Not an Instance of (E).Teresa Marques - 2018 - Synthese 195 (3):1035–1063.
A Disquotational Theory of Truth as Strong as Z 2 −.Thomas Schindler - 2015 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 44 (4):395-410.

View all 11 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

A Minimalist Theory of Truth.Bradley Armour-Garb - 2013 - Metaphilosophy 44 (1-2):53-57.
Truth -- Meaning -- Reality.Paul Horwich - 2009 - Oxford University Press.
Minimalism and the Definability of Truth.Gabriel Sandu - 2000 - The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 2000:143-153.
Tarski and Primitivism About Truth.Jamin Asay - 2013 - Philosophers' Imprint 13:1-18.
Was Tarski's Theory of Truth Motivated by Physicalism?Greg Frost-Arnold - 2004 - History and Philosophy of Logic 25 (4):265-280.
More on Putnam and Tarski.Panu Raatikainen - 2003 - Synthese 135 (1):37 - 47.
What Were Tarski's Truth-Definitions For?John F. Fox - 1989 - History and Philosophy of Logic 10 (2):165-179.
Tarski, Truth and Model Theory.Peter Milne - 1999 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 99 (2):141–167.
Circularity or Lacunae in Tarski’s Truth-Schemata.Dale Jacquette - 2010 - Journal of Logic, Language and Information 19 (3):315-326.
Minimalism and the Dialetheic Challenge.B. Armour-Garb & Jc Beall - 2003 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 81 (3):383 – 401.


Added to PP index

Total views
1 ( #1,499,791 of 2,448,510 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #449,843 of 2,448,510 )

How can I increase my downloads?


Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.

My notes