The ambiguity of “true” in English, German, and Chinese

Asian Journal of Philosophy 3 (1):1-20 (2024)
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Through a series of empirical studies involving native speakers of English, German, and Chinese, this paper reveals that the predicate “true” is inherently ambiguous in the empirical domain. Truth statements such as “It is true that Tom is at the party” seem to be ambivalent between two readings. On the first reading, the statement means “Reality is such that Tom is at the party.” On the second reading, the statement means “According to what X believes, Tom is at the party.” While there appear to exist some cross-cultural differences in the interpretation of the statements, the overall findings robustly indicate that “true” has multiple meanings in the realm of empirical matters.

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Kevin Reuter
University of Zürich

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References found in this work

Reason, truth, and history.Hilary Putnam - 1981 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Knowledge in a social world.Alvin I. Goldman - 1991 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Truth.Paul Horwich - 1990 - Oxford, GB: Clarendon Press. Edited by Frank Jackson & Michael Smith.
The semantic conception of truth and the foundations of semantics.Alfred Tarski - 1943 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 4 (3):341-376.
The Problems of Philosophy.Bertrand Russell - 1912 - Mind 21 (84):556-564.

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