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.
Propositional Attitudes defends an account of ‘believes’ on which the verb is contextually sensitive. x believes that S says that x has a belief which is ‘well rendered’ or acceptably translated by S; since contextually variable information about what makes for a good translation helps determine the extension of ‘believes,’ the verb is contextually sensitive. Sider and Soames criticize this account. They say it has unacceptable consequences in cases in which we make multiple ascriptions of belief to a single individual (...) - as happens, for example, when we say that Odile believes such and such, that the woman in the corner believes so and so, but are ignorant of the identity of Odile and the woman in the corner.I will distinguish two objections along these lines, and argue that neither is forceful. The objections differ as to whether or not the speaker mistakenly presupposes that the believers under discussion are distinct. (shrink)
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)
There seems to be a lot of opacity in our language. Quotation is opaque. The modal idioms are apparently opaque. Propositional attitude ascriptions seem opaque, as do the environments created by verbs such as ‘seeks’ and ‘fears’. Opacity raises a number of issues — first and foremost, whether there is such a thing. This article concentrates on the question of whether there is any opacity to be found in natural language, examining various reasons one might have for denying that apparent (...) opacity is genuine. (shrink)
When Truth Gives Out discusses some of the relations between performative and expressive aspects of language and those aspects of language that determine truth conditions. Among the topics it takes up are slurring speech, the ‘Frege-Geach’ objection to expressivism, vagueness, and relativism. It develops an alternative to standard truth conditional semantics, one based on the notion of a commitment.
_ Meaning_ brings together some of the most significant philosophical work on linguistic representation and understanding, presenting canonical essays on core questions in the philosophy of language. Brings together essential readings which define and advance the literature on linguistic representation and understanding. Examines key topics in philosophy of language, including analyticity; translational indeterminacy; theories of reference; meaning as use; the nature of linguistic competence; truth and meaning; and relations between semantics and metaphysics. Includes classic articles by key figures such as (...) Frege, Quine, Putnam, Kripke, and Davidson; and recent reactions to this work by philosophers including Mark Wilson, Scott Soames, James Higginbotham, Frank Jackson, Alex Byrne, and Paul Bogohossian. (shrink)