Paul Horwich gives the definitive exposition of a prominent philosophical theory about truth, `minimalism'. His theory has attracted much attention since the first edition of Truth in 1990; he has now developed, refined, and updated his treatment of the subject, while preserving the distinctive format of the book. This revised edition appears simultaneously with a new companion volume, Meaning; the two books demystify central philosophical issues, and will be essential reading for all who work on the philosophy of language.
What is truth. Paul Horwich advocates the controversial theory of minimalism, that is that the nature of truth is entirely captured in the trivial fact that each proposition specifies its own condition for being true, and that truth is therefore an entirely mundane and unpuzzling concept. The first edition of Truth, published in 1980, established itself as the best account of minimalism and as an excellent introduction to the debate for students. For this new edition, Horwich has refined and developed (...) his treatment of the subject in the light of subsequent discussions, while preserving the distinctive format that made the earlier edition so successful. (shrink)
In this new book, the author of the classic Truth presents an original theory of meaning, demonstrates its richness, and defends it against all contenders. He surveys the diversity of twentieth-century philosophical insights into meaning and shows that his theory can reconcile these with a common-sense view of meaning as derived from use. Meaning and its companion volume Truth (now published in a revised edition) together demystify two central issues in philosophy and offer a controversial but compelling view of the (...) relations between language, thought, and reality. (shrink)
Paul Horwich's main aim in Reflections on Meaning is to explain how mere noises, marks, gestures, and mental symbols are able to capture the world--that is, how words and sentences (in whatever medium) come to mean what they do, to stand for certain things, to be true or false of reality. His answer is a groundbreaking development of Wittgenstein's idea that the meaning of a term is nothing more than its use. While the chapters here have appeared as individual essays, (...) Horwich has edited them to make a continuous argument, focused on articulating and developing an important new conception of language. (shrink)
Pragmatists have traditionally been enemies of representationalism but friends of naturalism, when naturalism is understood to pertain to human subjects, in the sense of Hume and Nietzsche. In this volume Huw Price presents his distinctive version of this traditional combination, as delivered in his René Descartes Lectures at Tilburg University in 2008. Price contrasts his view with other contemporary forms of philosophical naturalism, comparing it with other pragmatist and neo-pragmatist views such as those of Robert Brandom and Simon Blackburn. Linking (...) their different 'expressivist' programmes, Price argues for a radical global expressivism that combines key elements from both. With Paul Horwich and Michael Williams, Brandom and Blackburn respond to Price in new essays. Price replies in the closing essay, emphasising links between his views and those of Wilfrid Sellars. The volume will be of great interest to advanced students of philosophy of language and metaphysics. (shrink)
What is truth? -- Varieties of deflationism -- A defense of minimalism -- The value of truth -- A minimalist critique of Tarski -- Kripke's paradox of meaning -- Regularities, rules, meanings, truth conditions, and epistemic norms -- Semantics : what's truth got to do with it? -- The motive power of evaluative concepts -- Ungrounded reason -- The nature of paradox -- A world without 'isms' -- The quest for reality -- Being and truth -- Provenance of chapters.
In this influential study of central issues in the philosophy of science, Paul Horwich elaborates on an important conception of probability, diagnosing the failure of previous attempts to resolve these issues as stemming from a too-rigid conception of belief. Adopting a Bayesian strategy, he argues for a probabilistic approach, yielding a more complete understanding of the characteristics of scientific reasoning and methodology. Presented in a fresh twenty-first-century series livery, and including a specially commissioned preface written by Colin Howson, illuminating its (...) enduring importance and relevance to philosophical enquiry, this engaging work has been revived for a new generation of readers. (shrink)
Paul Horwich presents a bold new interpretation of Wittgenstein's later work. He argues that it is Wittgenstein's radically anti-theoretical metaphilosophy - and not his identification of the meaning of a word with its use - that underpins his discussions of specific issues concerning language, the mind, mathematics, knowledge, art, and religion.
My aim in this paper is to clarify and defend a certain ‘minimalist’ thesis about truth: roughly, that the meaning of the truth predicate is fixed by the schema, ’The proposition that p is true if and only if p’.1 The several criticisms of this idea to which I wish to respond are to be found in the recent work of Davidson, Field, Gupta, Richard, and Soames, and in a classic paper of Dummett’s.
Time is generally thought to be one of the more mysterious ingredients of the universe. In this intriguing book, Paul Horwich makes precise and explicit the interrelationships between time and a large number of philosophically important notions.Ideas of temporal order and priority interact in subtle and convoluted ways with the deepest elements in our network of basic concepts. Confronting this conceptual jigsaw puzzle, Horwich notes that there are glaring differences in how we regard the past and future directions of time. (...) For example, we can influence the future but not the past, and can easily gain knowledge of the past but not of the future. Moreover we see a profusion of decay processes but little spontaneous generation of order; time appears to "flow" in one privileged direction, not the other; and we tend to explain phenomena in terms of antecedent circumstances, rather than subsequent ones. Horwich explains such time asymmetries and examines their bearing on the nature of time itself.Asymmetries in Time covers many notoriously difficult problems in the philosophy of science: causation, knowledge, entropy, explanation, time travel, rational choice, laws of nature, and counterfactual implication -- and gives a unified treatment of these matters. The book covers an unusually broad range of topics in a lucid and nontechnical way and includes alternative points of view in the philosophical literature. (shrink)
My answer will be ‘no’. And I’ll defend it by: distinguishing a concept’s having normative import from its being functionally normative; sketching a method for telling whether or not a concept is of the latter sort; responding to the antideflationist, Dummettian argument in favor of the conclusion that truth is functionally normative; proceeding to address a less familiar route to that conclusion—one that’s consistent with deflationism about truth, but that depends on the further assumption that meaning is intrinsically normative; and (...) arguing that this further assumption is mistaken. (shrink)
Thomas Kuhn is viewed as one of the most influential philosophers of science, and this re-release of a classic examination of one of his seminal works reflects his continuing importance. In _World Changes,_ the contributors examine the work of Kuhn from a broad philosophical perspective, comparing earlier logical empiricism and logical positivism with the new philosophy of science inspired by Kuhn in the early 1960s. The nine chapters offer interpretations of his major work _The Structure of Scientific Revolutions_ and subsequent (...) writings. The introduction outlines the significant concepts of Kuhn's work that are examined and is followed by a brief appraisal of Kuhn by Carl Hempel. The chapters discuss topics that include: a systematic comparison of Kuhn and Carnap viewing similarities and differences; the disputation of absolute truth; rational theory evaluation and comparison; applying theory to observation and the relation of models in a new conceptualization of theory content; and interpreting Kuhn's plurality-of-worlds thesis. The volume also presents four historical papers that speak to Kuhn's views on lexical structures and concept-formation and their antecedents. The afterward, by Kuhn himself, reviews his own philosophical development, his thoughts on the dynamics of scientific growth, and his response to issues raised by the contributors and other interpreters of his work. (shrink)
"Deflationism" has emerged as one of the most significant developments in contemporary philosophy. It is best known as a story about truth -- roughly, that the traditional search for its underlying nature is misconceived, since there can be no such thing. However, the scope of deflationism extends well beyond that particular topic. For, in the first place, such a view of truth substantially affects what we should say about neighboring concepts such as "reality," "meaning," and "rationality." And in the second (...) place, the anti-theoretical meta-philosophy that lies behind that view -- the idea that philosophical problems are characteristically based on confusion and should therefore be dissolved rather than solved -- may fruitfully be applied throughout the subject, in epistemology, ethics, the philosophy of science, metaphysics, and so on. The essays reprinted here were written over the last twenty five years. They represent Paul Horwich's development of the deflationary perspective and demonstrate its considerable power and fertility. They concern a broad array of philosophical problems: the nature of truth, realism vs. anti-realism, the creation of meaning, epistemic rationality, the conceptual role of "ought," probabilistic models of scientific reasoning, the autonomy of art, the passage of time, and the trajectory of Wittgenstein's philosophy. They appear as originally published except for the correction of obvious mistakes, the interpolation of clarifying material, and the inclusion of new footnotes to indicate Horwich's subsequent directions of thought. (shrink)
It is not uncommon for philosophers to maintain that one is obliged to believe nothing beyond the observable consequences of a successful scientific theory. This doctrine is variously known as instrumentalism, fictionalism, constructive empiricism, theoretical skepticism and the philosophy of "as if". The purpose of the present paper is to subject such forms of scientific antirealism to a two-pronged critique. In the first place it is argued that there is no genuine difference between believing a theory and being disposed to (...) use it to make predictions, design experiments, and so on; so traditional instrumentalism is incoherent. In the second place, a retrenched position is considered in which theoretical belief would be tolerated but said to be justified on merely pragmatic, and not epistemic, grounds. In criticizing this point of view it is shown that the onus of proof rests on anyone who maintains it; furthermore, the only possible rationale for it (which is based on underdetermination of theory by data) is described, and various deficiencies in this argument are exposed. (shrink)
This paper offers a critique of mainstream formal semantics. It begins with a statement of widely assumed adequacy conditions: namely, that a good theory must (1) explain relations of entailment, (ii) show how the meanings of complex expressions derive from the meanings of their parts, and (iii) characterize facts of meaning in truth-theoretic terms. It then proceeds to criticize the orthodox conception of semantics that is articulated in these three desiderata. This critique is followed by a sketch of an alternative (...) conception—one that is argued to be more in tune with the empirical objectives of linguistics and the clarificatory aims of philosophy. Finally, the paper proposes and defends a specific theoretical approach—use based rather than truth based—that is suggested by that alternative conception. (shrink)
A widespread concern within philosophy has been, and continues to be, to determine which domains of discourse address real, robust, not‐merely‐deflationary facts, and which do not. But a threat to the legitimacy of this concern is the extreme lack of consensus amongst philosophers on the question of how to tell whether or not a given domain is oriented towards ‘robust reality’. The present paper criticizes Kit Fine’s attempt to settle that question. This discussion is followed by some considerations suggesting that (...) there is no good answer to it, that the notion of ‘robust reality’ is defective and ought to be abandoned. (shrink)
It is widely held that the normativity of truth and meaning puts a severe constraint on acceptable theories of these phenomena. This constraint is so severe, some would say, as to rule out purely ‘naturalistic’ or ‘factual’ accounts of them. In particular, it is commonly supposed that the deflationary view of truth and the use conception of meaning, in so far as they are articulated in entirely non-normative terms, must for that reason be inadequate.
It is argued, in light of the deflationist conception of truth, that expressivism (emotivism, non-cognitivism) about ethical pronouncements should be formulated merely as the thesis that such pronouncements are expressions of desire, and should not incorporate the further thesis (traditionally associated with expressivism) that they have no truth value.
This chapter contrasts Alfred Tarski's compositional conception (whereby the truth-values of sentences are explained in terms of the referential characteristics of their component words) unfavorably with minimalism (which relies merely on the schema, ‘(p) is true ↔ p’). First, it argues against Tarski that his approach is: (i) misdirected, insofar as it doesn't elucidate our actual concept of truth, which applies to propositions rather than sentences; (ii) ill-motivated, insofar as it reflects an insistence on explicit definitions; (iii) not generally workable, (...) insofar as those definitions cannot devised for all the multifarious constructions that occur in natural languages; and (iv) pointless, insofar as it addresses no question worth answering. Second, it is shown that minimalism can be the basis for a superior treatment of the liar paradoxes. And, finally, a response is developed to the claim (Tarski, Gupta, Soames, Halbach) that Tarski-style compositional definitions are needed in order to accommodate generalizations about truth (e.g., that all instances of ‘p→p’ are true). (shrink)
Let me start with an example. Presumably our understanding of the sentence ‘dogs bark’ arises somehow from our understanding of its components and our appreciation of how they are combined. That is to say, ‘dogs bark’ somehow gets its meaning from the meanings of the two words ‘dog’ and ‘bark’, from the meaning of the generalization schema ‘ns v’, and from the fact that the sentence results from placing those words in that schema in a certain order. However, as Davidson (...) was the first to emphasize, it is not possible to produce a strict logical deduction of what ‘dogs bark’ means from these more basic facts alone. So a question arises as to which further premises are required. What assumptions about the character of meaning should be added in order to obtain an explanation of the meaning of the sentence on the basis of the meanings of its words? (shrink)
How should we go about identifying the particular non-semantic property of a given word that is responsible for its meaning? And what sort of property will that turn out to be? The use theory, as I want to develop it, offers answers to these questions. It begins with the observation that the meaning of a word is a common factor in the explanations of its various occurrences and proceeds to argue, on that basis, that each word means what it does (...) in virtue of the acceptance conditions of certain specified sentences containing it. For the sake of concreteness here are some examples of the sort of meaning-constitution claims that may issue from UTM. (shrink)