Truths are determined not by what we believe, but by the way the world is. Or so realists about truth believe. Philosophers call such theories correspondence theories of truth. Truthmaking theory, which now has many adherents among contemporary philosophers, is the most recent development of a realist theory of truth, and in this book D. M. Armstrong offers the first full-length study of this theory. He examines its applications to different sorts of truth, including contingent truths, (...) modal truths, truths about the past and the future, and mathematical truths. In a clear, even-handed and non-technical discussion he makes a compelling case for truthmaking and its importance in philosophy. His book marks a significant contribution to the debate and will be of interest to a wide range of readers working in analytical philosophy. (shrink)
Now in a new edition, this volume updates Davidson's exceptional Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation (1984), which set out his enormously influential philosophy of language. The original volume remains a central point of reference, and a focus of controversy, with its impact extending into linguistic theory, philosophy of mind, and epistemology. Addressing a central question--what it is for words to mean what they do--and featuring a previously uncollected, additional essay, this work will appeal to a wide audience of philosophers, (...) linguists, and psychologists. (shrink)
John MacFarlane explores how we might make sense of the idea that truth is relative. He provides new, satisfying accounts of parts of our thought and talk that have resisted traditional methods of analysis, including what we mean when we talk about what is tasty, what we know, what will happen, what might be the case, and what we ought to do.
Hilary Putnam deals in this book with some of the most fundamental persistent problems in philosophy: the nature of truth, knowledge and rationality. His aim is to break down the fixed categories of thought which have always appeared to define and constrain the permissible solutions to these problems.
In this paper, we offer a brief, critical survey of contemporary work on truth. We begin by reflecting on the distinction between substantivist and deflationary truth theories. We then turn to three new kinds of truth theory—Kevin Scharp's replacement theory, John MacFarlane's relativism, and the alethic pluralism pioneered by Michael Lynch and Crispin Wright. We argue that despite their considerable differences, these theories exhibit a common "pluralizing tendency" with respect to truth. In the final section, we (...) look at the underinvestigated interface between metaphysical and formal truth theories, pointing to several promising questions that arise here. (shrink)
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)
It is tempting to think that, if a person's beliefs are coherent, they are also likely to be true. This truth conduciveness claim is the cornerstone of the popular coherence theory of knowledge and justification. Erik Olsson's new book is the most extensive and detailed study of coherence and probable truth to date. Setting new standards of precision and clarity, Olsson argues that the value of coherence has been widely overestimated. Provocative and readable, Against Coherence will make stimulating (...) reading for epistemologists and anyone with a serious interest in truth. (shrink)
The mainstream view in the philosophy of language holds that every meaningful sentence has a truth-condition. This view, however, runs into difficulties with non-objective sentences such as sentences on matters of taste or value: these do not appear to be either true or false, but are generally taken to be meaningful. How can this conflict be resolved? -/- Truth Without Objectivity examines various ways of resolving this fundamental problem, before developing and defending its own original solution, a relativist (...) theory of truth. Standard solutions maintain either that in uttering non-objective sentences speakers make implicit reference to their own preferences and thus have unproblematic truth conditions, or that they have no truth conditions at all. Max Kölbel argues that both of these proposed solutions are inadequate, and that a third well-known position, minimalism, can only solve the problem if it is developed in the direction of relativism about truth. -/- Kölbel defends the idea that truth (as invoked in semantics) is a neutral notion: a sentence’s possessing a truth condition does not yet entail that it concerns an objective subject matter, because truth and objectivity are independent of one another. He argues that this notion of ‘truth without objectivity’ leads directly to relativism about truth, and goes on to defend one form of relativism against well-known objections. (shrink)
Truth is one of the most debated topics in philosophy; Wolfgang Kunne presents a comprehensive critical examination of all major theories, from Aristotle to the present day. He argues that it is possible to give a satisfactory 'modest' account of truth without invoking problematic notions like correspondence, fact, or meaning. The clarity of exposition and the wealth of examples will make Conceptions of Truth an invaluable and stimulating guide for advanced students and scholars.
This takes a closer look at the actual semantic behavior of apparent truth predicates in English and re-evaluates the way they could motivate particular philosophical views regarding the formal status of 'truth predicates' and their semantics. The paper distinguishes two types of 'truth predicates' and proposes semantic analyses that better reflect the linguistic facts. These analyses match particular independently motivated philosophical views.
The revisionary approach to semantic paradox is commonly thought to have a somewhat uncomfortable corollary, viz. that, on pain of triviality, we cannot affirm that all valid arguments preserve truth (Beall2007, Beall2009, Field2008, Field2009). We show that the standard arguments for this conclusion all break down once (i) the structural rule of contraction is restricted and (ii) how the premises can be aggregated---so that they can be said to jointly entail a given conclusion---is appropriately understood. In addition, we briefly (...) rehearse some reasons for restricting structural contraction. (shrink)
When talking about truth, we ordinarily take ourselves to be talking about one-and-the-same thing. Alethic monists suggest that theorizing about truth ought to begin with this default or pre-reflective stance, and, subsequently, parlay it into a set of theoretical principles that are aptly summarized by the thesis that truth is one. Foremost among them is the invariance principle.
Presenting a selection of thirteen essays on various topics at the foundations of philosophy--one previously unpublished and eight accompanied by substantial new postscripts--this book offers outstanding insight on truth, meaning, and propositional attitudes; semantic indeterminacy and other kinds of "factual defectiveness;" and issues concerning objectivity, especially in mathematics and in epistemology. It will reward the attention of any philosopher interested in language, epistemology, or mathematics.
D O N A L D D AV I D S O N’S “ Meaning and Truth,” re vo l u t i o n i zed our conception of how truth and meaning are related (Davidson ). In that famous art i c l e , Davidson put forw a rd the bold conjecture that meanings are satisfaction conditions, and that a Tarskian theory of truth for a language is a theory of meaning (...) for that language. In “Meaning and Truth,” Davidson proposed only that a Tarskian truth theory is a theory of meaning. But in “Theories of Me a n i n g and Learnable Languages,” he argued that the ﬁnite base of a Tarskian theory, together with the now familiar combinatorics, would explain how a language with unbounded expre s s i ve capacity could be learned with finite means ( Davidson ). This certainly seems to imply that learning a language is, in p a rt at least, learning a Tarskian truth theory for it, or, at least, learning what is speciﬁed by such a theory. Davisdon was cagey about committing to the view that meanings actually a re satisfaction conditions, but subsequent followers had no such scru p l e s . We can sum this up in a trio of claims: Davidson’s Conjecture () A theory of meaning for L is a truth-conditional semantics for L. () To know the meaning of an expression in L is to know a satisfaction condition for that expression. () Meanings are satisfaction conditions. For the most part, it will not matter in what follows which of these claims is at stake. I will simply take the three to be different ways of formulating what I will call Davidson’s Conjecture (or sometimes just The Conjecture). Davidson’s Conjecture was a very bold conjecture. I think we are now in a.. (shrink)
Attention to the conversational role of alethic terms seems to dominate, and even sometimes exhaust, many contemporary analyses of the nature of truth. Yet, because truth plays a role in judgment and assertion regardless of whether alethic terms are expressly used, such analyses cannot be comprehensive or fully adequate. A more general analysis of the nature of truth is therefore required – one which continues to explain the significance of truth independently of the role alethic terms (...) play in discourse. We undertake such an analysis in this paper; in particular, we start with certain elements from Kant and Frege, and develop a construct of truth as a normative modality of cognitive acts (e.g., thought, judgment, assertion). Using the various biconditional T-schemas to sanction the general passage from assertions to (equivalent) assertions of truth, we then suggest that an illocutionary analysis of truth can contribute to its locutionary analysis as well, including the analysis of diverse constructions involving alethic terms that have been largely overlooked in the philosophical literature. Finally, we briefly indicate the importance of distinguishing between alethic and epistemic modalities. (shrink)
Dialetheism is the view that some contradictions are true. This is a view which runs against orthodoxy in logic and metaphysics since Aristotle, and has implications for many of the core notions of philosophy. Doubt Truth to Be a Liar explores these implications for truth, rationality, negation, and the nature of logic, and develops further the defense of dialetheism first mounted in Priest's In Contradiction, a second edition of which is also available.
That truth provides the standard for believing appears to be a platitude, one which dovetails with the idea that in some sense belief aims only at the truth. In recent years, however, an increasing number of prominent philosophers have suggested that knowledge provides the standard for believing, and so that belief aims only at knowledge. In this paper, I examine the considerations which have been put forward in support of this suggestion, considerations relating to lottery beliefs, Moorean beliefs, (...) the criticism and defence of belief, and the value of knowledge. I argue that those considerations do not give us reason to give up the truth view in favour of the knowledge view and, moreover, that reflection on those considerations gives us some reason to reject the knowledge view. Thus, I conclude, we can continue to the take the apparent platitude at face value. (shrink)
Common-sense allows that talk about moral truths makes perfect sense. If you object to the United States’ Declaration of Independence’s assertion that it is a truth that ‘all men’ are ‘endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights’, you are more likely to object that these rights are not unalienable or that they are not endowed by the Creator, or even that its wording ignores the fact that women have rights too, than that this is not the sort of (...) thing which could be a truth. Whether it is a truth or not seems beside the point, anyway; the writers of the Declaration could just have well written, ‘We hold it to be self-evident that all men are created equal, and also that it is self-evident that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,’ save only that its cadence would lack some of the poetic resonance of the version which garnered Hancock’s signature. Yet famously, ethical noncognitivists have proclaimed that moral sentences can’t be true or false – that, like ‘Hooray!’ or ‘dammit!’, they are not even the kinds of things to be true or false. Noncognitivism is sometimes even defined as the view that this is so, but even philosophers who define ‘noncognitivism’ more broadly, as consistent with the idea that moral sentences may be true or false, have believed that they needed to do important philosophical spadework in order to make sense of how moral sentences could be true or false. In this article we’ll look at the puzzle about moral truth as it is faced by early noncognitivists and by metaethical expressivists, the early noncognitivists’ contemporary cousins. We’ll look at what it would take for expressivists to ‘earn the right’ to talk about moral truths at all, and in particular at what it would take for them to earn the right to claim that moral truths behave in the ways that we should expect – including that meaningful moral sentences which lack presuppositions are true or false, and that classically valid arguments are truth-preserving.. (shrink)
In the early 20th century, scepticism was common among philosophers about the very meaningfulness of the notion of truth – and of the related notions of denotation, definition etc. (i.e., what Tarski called semantical concepts). Awareness was growing of the various logical paradoxes and anomalies arising from these concepts. In addition, more philosophical reasons were being given for this aversion.1 The atmosphere changed dramatically with Alfred Tarski’s path-breaking contribution. What Tarski did was to show that, assuming that the syntax (...) of the object language is specified exactly enough, and that the metatheory has a certain amount of set theoretic power,2 one can explicitly define truth in the object language. And what can be explicitly defined can be eliminated. It follows that the defined concept cannot give rise to any inconsistencies (that is, paradoxes). This gave new respectability to the concept of truth and related notions. Nevertheless, philosophers’ judgements on the nature and philosophical relevance of Tarski’s work have varied. It is my aim here to review and evaluate some threads in this debate. (shrink)
What is truth? Philosophers are interested in a range of issues involving the concept of truth beginning with what sorts of things can be true. This is a collection of eighteen new and original research papers on truth and other alethic phenomena by twenty of the most promising young scholars working on truth today.
In this paper we explain our pretense account of truth-talk and apply it in a diagnosis and treatment of the Liar Paradox. We begin by assuming that some form of deflationism is the correct approach to the topic of truth. We then briefly motivate the idea that all T-deflationists should endorse a fictionalist view of truth-talk, and, after distinguishing pretense-involving fictionalism (PIF) from error- theoretic fictionalism (ETF), explain the merits of the former over the latter. After presenting (...) the basic framework of our PIF account of truth-talk, we demonstrate a few advantages it offers over T-deflationist accounts that do not explicitly acknowledge pretense at work in the discourse. In turning to the Liar Paradox, we explain how the quasi-anaphoric functioning that our account attributes to truth-talk provides a diagnosis of the Liar Paradox (and other instances of semantic pathology) as having no content—in the sense of not specifying any of what we call M-conditions. At the same time, however, we vindicate the intuition that we can understand liar sentences, thereby avoiding one standard objection to “meaningless strategy” responses to the Liar Paradox. With this diagnosis in place, we then, by way of treatment, introduce a new predicate, ‘semantically defective’, and show how the explanation we give for its application allows for a consistent, yet revenge-immune, (dis)solution of the Liar Paradox, and semantic pathology generally. (shrink)
This paper distinguishes two projects in Davidson's theory of meaning, an initial project of providing a compositional meaning theory for a natural language for which a Tarski-style truth theory is pressed into service and an extended project that aims to illuminate the basis of meaning in its relation to the neutrally described behavioral evidence in terms of which an interpretive truth theory for a language can ultimately be confirmed, and then argues that having distinguished the two projects we (...) can see that the goal that the radical interpreter sets himself cannot be achieved given the limits on his data. (shrink)
The notion of truth is a central subject both in Philosophy and Mathematical Logic. The logical approach on the one side and the philosophical one on the other, however, mostly deal with problems which, apparently, require different tools to be tackled. In this paper I argue that such a separation can and should be overcome, and, in order to build a bridge, I focus on the philosophical issue of the insubstantiality of truth, which is a crucial topic to (...) distinguish inflationist from deflationist proposals. Elaborating on the interpretation of insubstantiality in terms of the sparse/abundant classification of properties, I put forward a refined version in which certain flaws afflicting other formulations are solved. Then, I show how, using this improved variant, the philosophical notion of abundance can be fruitfully related to the formal notion of expandability of models, if a logical framework is adopted. Among other virtues, the obtained link can shed new light on the debate of deflationism and conservativity. (shrink)
Sherrilyn Roush defends a new theory of knowledge and evidence, based on the idea of "tracking" the truth, as the best approach to a wide range of questions about knowledge-related phenomena. The theory explains, for example, why scepticism is frustrating, why knowledge is power, and why better evidence makes you more likely to have knowledge. Tracking Truth provides a unification of the concepts of knowledge and evidence, and argues against traditional epistemological realist and anti-realist positions about scientific theories (...) and for a piecemeal approach based on a criterion of evidence, a position Roush calls "real anti-realism." Epistemologists and philosophers of science will recognize this as a significant original contribution. (shrink)
In this paper, I take issue with an idea that has emerged from recent relativist proposals, and, in particular, from Lasersohn, according to which the correct semantics for taste predicates must use contents that are functions of a judge parameter rather than implicit arguments lexically associated with such predicates. I argue that the relativist account and the contextualist implicit argument-account are, from the viewpoint of semantics, not much more than notational variants of one another. In other words, given any sentence (...) containing a taste predicate, and given any assignment of values to the relevant parameters, the two accounts predict the same truth value and are, in that sense, equivalent. I also look at possible reasons for preferring one account over the other. The phenomenon of "faultless disagreement" is often believed to be one such reason. I argue, against Kölbel and Lasersohn, that disagreement is never faultless: either the two parties genuinely disagree, hence if the one is right then the other is wrong, or the two parties are both right, but their apparent disagreement boils down to a misunderstanding. What is more, even if there were faultless disagreement, I argue that relativism would fail to account for it. The upshot of my paper, then, is to show that there is not much disagreement between a contextualist account that models the judge parameter as an implicit argument to the taste predicate, and a relativist account that models it as a parameter of the circumstances of evaluation. The choice between the two accounts, at least when talking about taste, is thus, to a large extent, a matter of taste. (shrink)
How does metaphysical grounding interact with the truth-functions? I argue that the answer varies according to whether one has a worldly conception or a conceptual conception of grounding. I then put forward a logic of worldly grounding and give it an adequate semantic characterisation.
Whether truth, morality, and beauty have an objective basis has been a perennial question for philosophy, ethics, and aesthetics, while for a great many relativists and skeptics it poses a problem without a solution. In this essay, the author proposes an innovative approach that shows how cognitive intelligence, moral intelligence, and aesthetic intelligence provide the basis needed for objective judgments about truth, morality, and beauty.
In this study we investigate the influence of reason-relation readings of indicative conditionals and ‘and’/‘but’/‘therefore’ sentences on various cognitive assessments. According to the Frege-Grice tradition, a dissociation is expected. Specifically, differences in the reason-relation reading of these sentences should affect participants’ evaluations of their acceptability but not of their truth value. In two experiments we tested this assumption by introducing a relevance manipulation into the truth-table task as well as in other tasks assessing the participants’ acceptability and probability (...) evaluations. Across the two experiments a strong dissociation was found. The reason-relation reading of all four sentences strongly affected their probability and acceptability evaluations, but hardly affected their respective truth evaluations. Implications of this result for recent work on indicative conditionals are discussed. (shrink)
It is often claimed by theorists of truth that truth is objective. Upon reflection, however, this familiar principle can be understood in multiple ways. With this in mind, we have conducted empirical studies designed to elicit people’s responses to questions about the objectivity of truth. These studies suggest the following: (1) overall, individuals tend to endorse claims that are consistent with the objectivity of truth; (2) individuals’ conceptions of the objectivity of truth can be importantly (...) different from one another; (3) philosophers and non-philosophers both endorse the objectivity of truth, but the apparent commitment of philosophers is stronger. (shrink)
What is truth? Michael Lynch defends a bold new answer to this question. Traditional theories of truth hold that truth has only a single uniform nature. All truths are true in the same way. More recent deflationary theories claim that truth has no nature at all; the concept of truth is of no real philosophical importance. In this concise and clearly written book, Lynch argues that we should reject both these extremes and hold that (...) class='Hi'>truth is a functional property. To understand truth we must understand what it does, its function in our cognitive economy. Once we understand that, we'll see that this function can be performed in more than one way. And that in turn opens the door to an appealing pluralism: beliefs about the concrete physical world needn't be true in the same way as our thoughts about matters -- like morality -- where the human stain is deepest. (shrink)
I present two counterexamples to the recently back-in-favour truth-tracking account of knowledge: one involving a true belief resting on a counterfactually robust delusion, one involving a true belief acquired alongside a bunch of false beliefs. These counterexamples carry over to a recent modification of the theory due to Briggs and Nolan (2012), and seem invulnerable to a recent defence of the theory against known counterexamples, by Adams and Clarke (2005).
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. (shrink)
I offer a new theory of faultless disagreement, according to which truth is absolute (non-relative) but can still be non-objective. What's relative is truth-aptness: a sentence like ‘Vegemite is tasty’ (V) can be truth-accessible and bivalent in one context but not in another. Within a context in which V fails to be bivalent, we can affirm that there is no issue of truth or falsity about V, still disputants, affirming and denying V, were not at fault, (...) since, in their context of assertion V was bivalent. This theory requires a theory of assertion that is a form of cognitive expressivism. (shrink)
This article surveys different philosophical theories about the nature of truth. We give much importance to truth; some demand to know it, some fear it, and others would even die for it. But what exactly is truth? What is its nature? Does it even have a nature in the first place? When do we say that some truth-bearers are true? Philosophers offer varying answers to these questions. In this article, some of these answers are explored and (...) some of the problems raised against them are presented. (shrink)