Is the point of belief and assertion invariably to think or say something true? Is the truth of a belief or assertion absolute, or is it only relative to human interests? Most philosophers think it incoherent to profess to believe something but not think it true, or to say that some of the things we believe are only relatively true. Common sense disagrees. It sees many opinions, such as those about matters of taste, as neither true nor false; it takes (...) it as obvious that some of the truth is relative. Mark Richard's accessible book argues that when it comes to truth, common sense is right, philosophical orthodoxy wrong. The first half of the book examines connections between the performative aspects of talk, our emotions and evaluations, and the conditions under which talk and thought qualifies as true or false. It argues that the performative and expressive sometimes trump the semantic, making truth and falsity the wrong dimension of evaluation for belief or assertion. Among the topics taken up are: racial slurs and other epithets; relations between logic and truth; the status of moral and ethical talk; vagueness and the liar paradox. The book's second half defends the idea that much of everyday thought and talk is only relatively true or false. Truth is inevitably relative, given that we cannot work out in advance how our concepts will apply to the world. Richard explains what it is for truth to be relative, rebuts standard objections to relativism, and argues that relativism is consistent with the idea that one view can be objectively better than another. The book concludes with an account of matters of taste and of how it is possible for divergent views of such matters to be equally valid, even if not true or false. When Truth Gives Out will be of interest not only to philosophers who work on language, ethics, knowledge, or logic, but to any thoughtful person who has wondered what it is, or isn't, for something to be true. (shrink)
This book makes a stimulating contribution to the philosophy of language and philosophy of mind. It begins with a spirited defence of the view that propositions are structured and that propositional structure is 'psychologically real'. The author then develops a subtle view of propositions and attitude ascription. The view is worked out in detail with attention to such topics as the semantics of conversations, iterated attitude ascriptions, and the role of propositions as bearers of truth. Along the way important issues (...) in the philosophy of mind are addressed. Though intended primarily for professional philosophers and graduate students the book will also interest cognitive scientists and linguists. (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.
Thirteen seminal essays by Mark Richard develop a nuanced account of semantics and propositional attitudes. The collection addresses a range of topics in philosophical semantics and philosophy of mind, and is accompanied by a new Introduction which discusses attitudes realized by dispositions and other non-linguistic cognitive structures.
I review but don’t endorse Marcus’ arguments that impossible beliefs are impossible. I defend her claim that belief’s objects are, in some important sense, not the bearers of truth and falsity, discuss her disposition- alism about belief, and argue it’s a good fit with the idea that belief’s objects are Russellian states of affairs.
This book collects nine seminal essays by Mark Richard published between 1980 and 2014, alongside four new essays and an introduction that puts the essays in context. Each essay is an attempt, in one way or another, to understand the idea of a proposition. Part I discusses whether the objects of thought and assertion can change truth value over time. Part II develops and defends a relativist view of the objects of assertion and thought; and Part III discusses issues having (...) to do with relations between sentential and propositional structure. (shrink)
Precis of When Truth Gives Out Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-4 DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9792-4 Authors Mark Richard, Philosophy Department, Harvard University, Emerson Hall, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
The Philosophical Review, Vol. XCVI, No. 4 (October 1987) Mark I. Fix a language; Leibniz's Law for that language is the principle (L) Any universal closure of a sentence of the form of if x is identical with y, then, if S, then S'.
This paper responds to discussions of my book When Truth Gives Out by Michael Lynch, Nenad Miščević, and Isidora Stojanović. Among the topics discussed are: whether relativism is incoherent (because it requires one to think that certain of one’s views are and are not epistemically superior to views one denies); whether and when sentences in which one slurs an individual or group are truth valued; whether relativism about matters of taste gives an account of “faultless disagreement” superior to certain “absolutist” (...) accounts of the matter. (shrink)
The analogy between biological and cultural evolution is not perfect. Yet, as Mesoudi et al. show, many of the vaunted differences between cultural and genetic evolution (for example, an absence of discrete particles of cultural inheritance, and the blurred distinction between cultural replicators and cultural phenotypes) are, on closer inspection, either illusory or peripheral to the validity of the analogy. But what about horizontal transmission? We strongly agree with the authors that the potential for horizontal transmission of cultural traits does (...) not invalidate an evolutionary approach to culture. We suggest, however, that it does require a different evolutionary treatment. (Published Online November 9 2006). (shrink)
The tendency for judges to respond positively to negligence claims advanced by those who have rendered assistance to accident victims has recently come into collision with the judicial impulse to limit the range of circumstances in which recovery can be made for psychiatric injury. The upshot of this collision is identified as a reduction in the range of circumstances in which those rendering assistance to accident victims can recover for psychiatric harm. This development is criticized on the ground that it (...) has compromised pursuit of what is identified as one of the law's subsidiary purposes: namely, the promotion (in a narrow range of circumstances) of strongly altruistic activity. The ground for making this criticism is found in a body of doctrine that supports the claim that the law is informed by a commitment to the altruism principle. This principle is contrasted with the narrower rescue principle and is identified as supporting not only the claims of rescuers but also those of persons who render assistance in the aftermath of particularly harrowing accidents. While the House of Lords» decision is identified as exhibiting insensitivity to the altruism principle, it is none the less concluded that the position staked out by their Lordships is defensible. Support for this conclusion is found in the ideal of distributive justice, which provided one of the grounds for the House's decision in White. Further, the relationship between the ideal of corrective justice and the ideal of distributive justice is identified as a source of significant tension in the law of negligence. (shrink)