Truth Without Objectivity

London and New York: Routledge (2002)
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The mainstream view in the philosophy of language holds that every meaningful sentence has a truth-condition. This view, however, runs into difficulties with non-objective sentences such as sentences on matters of taste or value: these do not appear to be either true or false, but are generally taken to be meaningful. How can this conflict be resolved? Truth Without Objectivity examines various ways of resolving this fundamental problem, before developing and defending its own original solution, a relativist theory of truth. Standard solutions maintain either that in uttering non-objective sentences speakers make implicit reference to their own preferences and thus have unproblematic truth conditions, or that they have no truth conditions at all. Max Kölbel argues that both of these proposed solutions are inadequate, and that a third well-known position, minimalism, can only solve the problem if it is developed in the direction of relativism about truth. Kölbel defends the idea that truth (as invoked in semantics) is a neutral notion: a sentence’s possessing a truth condition does not yet entail that it concerns an objective subject matter, because truth and objectivity are independent of one another. He argues that this notion of ‘truth without objectivity’ leads directly to relativism about truth, and goes on to defend one form of relativism against well-known objections.



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Max Kölbel
University of Vienna

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