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)
Most linguists and philosophers will tell you that whatever meaning is, it determines the reference of names, the satisfaction conditions of nouns and verbs, the truth conditions of sentences; in linguist speak, meaning determines semantic value. So a change in semantic value implies a change in meaning. So the semantic value a meaning determines is essential to that meaning: holding contributions from context constant, if two words have different semantic values they cannot mean the same thing. If this is correct, (...) then in a fairly straightforward sense reference is essential to meaning. In this paper I argue that reference is not essential to meaning by giving an example in which groups in different circumstances use a phrase with the same meaning but a different reference. (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.
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)
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.
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'.
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.
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)
Sentences of natural languages are often said to express propositions and to have meanings . This work is about the nature of such entities and their role in an account of the truth conditions of tensed attributions of belief containing demonstratives and indexicals. ;In Chapter I, I discuss the temporal properties of propositions. Two views concerning the temporal properties of propositions--temporalism and eternalism--are characterized; eternalism is defended as the correct view. I show that the temporalist cannot give adequate truth conditions (...) for tensed attributions of belief, and, in addition, that criticisms of eternalism made by David Kaplan are unfounded. I also show that, given the truth of eternalism, Kaplan's identification of sentence meaning with character must be rejected. ;Chapter II takes, as its point of departure, Kaplan's work on demonstratives. An account of the semantical properties of demonstratives and indexicals is presented, one based upon Kaplan's account, but modified in the light of the results of Chapter I. It is then argued, on the basis of this account, that the usual truth conditions accorded to attributions of belief are incorrect: I argue that an attribution of belief is not true simply if the person to whom belief is attributed believes the proposition expressed by the sentence used to attribute belief. ;In Chapter III, two recent attempts to deal with the problems raised in Chapter II are considered: The semantics for attributions of belief suggested by Robert Stalnaker and Bas C. van Fraassen. On Stalnaker's and van Fraassen's views, in attributing belief to a person u using a sentence S, we sometimes do not attribute to u a belief in the proposition expressed by S, but in some other proposition. Both accounts are shown to be unacceptable. ;Finally, in Chapter IV, a solution to the problems raised in Chapter II is proposed. I suggest that not only the proposition expressed by a sentence S, but the meaning of S, is involved in truth conditions for attributions of belief containing S. The work concludes with a formal development of this proposal. (shrink)
_ 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)
Mark Richard presents an original theory of meaning, as the collection of assumptions speakers make in using it and expect their hearers to recognize as being made. Meaning is spread across a population, inherited by each new generation of speakers from the last, and evolving through the interactions of speakers with their environment.
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)