The pragmatic theory of truth (PTT) seeks to illuminate the concept of truth by focusing on concepts like usefulness or adaptivity. However, contrary to common opinion, PTT does not merely face a narrow band of (perhaps) rather artificial counterexamples (as in a case of empirically unfounded but life-extending optimism in a cancer patient); instead, PTT is faced with a fast psychological research literature which suggests that inaccurate beliefs are both (1) pervasive in human beings and, nonetheless, (2) (...) fully adaptive in many cases. Call this the "pervasive adaptive illusions" (PAI) objection to PTT. According to PAI, the kind of connection drawn by PTT between the beliefs that we (intuitively or pretheoretically) regard as "true" and the beliefs we regard as useful is undercut by hard-nosed empirical work in psychology -- work that no empirically minded pragmatist can ignore. According to PAI, the connection drawn between truth and utility by PTT is subject to a simply overwhelming set of counterexamples (drawn from psychological research, and reviewed below). Thus, PTT is a theory any sensible theorist of truth must reject. (shrink)
In On Truth and the Representation of Reality, Dan Nesher develops a new theory of truth in the framework of pragmatisttheory of representation. Using the pragmatisttheory of perception for the basis of his epistemological explanation of our confrontation with external Reality and how it's represented, Nesher shows that in our perceptual operations we quasi-prove the truth of our perceptual judgments.
Cheryl Misak argues that truth ought to be reinstated to a central position in moral and political philosophy. She argues that the correct account of truth is one found in a certain kind of pragmatism: a true belief is one upon which inquiry could not improve, a belief which would not be defeated by experience and argument. This account is not only an improvement on the views of central figures such as Rawls and Habermas, but it can also (...) make sense of the idea that, despite conflict, pluralism, and the expression of difference, our moral and political beliefs aim at truth and can be subject to criticism. Anyone interested in a fresh discussion of political theory and philosophy will find this a fascinating read. (shrink)
C i lewis, regarding himself as a pragmatist, repeatedly attempts to identify truth with verification. it is here argued, however, that a correspondence or semantic theory is required by (1) lewis's interpretation of objective judgments in terms of "possible experience" and of possible experience in terms of counterfactual conditions; (2) his distinction between the justification of knowledge and the truth of knowledge; and (3) his logical analysis of truth in terms of the extension (known or (...) unknown) of propositions. it is then argued that verification determines knowledge but reality determines truth, and that lewis himself emphasizes "the transcendence by reality of our present knowledge of it.". (shrink)
The connection between theories of truth and meaning is explored. Theories of truth and meaning are connected in a way such that differences in the conception of what it is for a sentence to be true are engendered by differences in the conception of how meanings depend on each other, and on a base of underlying facts. It is argued that this view is common ground between Davidson and Dummett, and that their dispute over realism is really a (...) dispute in the theory of meaning over holism and molecularism. The view offered is contrasted with influential pragmatist and modest views. (shrink)
Although Sartre rejects a certain kind of idealism in "Truth and Existence", I argue that a commitment to a kind of transcendental idealism remains. I explore the expression of this idealism in "Truth and Existence" and how it enhances an idealist tradition which begins with Kant. More importantly, I examine Sartre's divergence from Kantian idealism and his blending of pragmatism with idealism, in a way most similar to Wittgenstein's. Unlike Wittgenstein's idealism, however, Sartre's idealism, I argue, brings him (...) dangerously close to solipsism and creates for his theory of truth a serious problem of cognitive splintering. (shrink)
The pragmatic theory of truth seeks to illuminate the concept of truth by focusing on concepts like usefulness or adaptivity. However, contrary to common opinion, PTT does not merely face a narrow band of rather artificial counterexamples ; instead, PTT is faced with a vast psychological research literature which suggests that inaccurate beliefs are both pervasive in human beings and nonetheless fully adaptive in many cases. Call this the “pervasive adaptive illusions” objection to PTT. According to PAI, (...) the kind of connection drawn by PTT between the beliefs that we regard as “true” and the beliefs we regard as useful is undercut by hard-nosed empirical work in psychology—work that no empirically-minded pragmatist can ignore. According to PAI, the connection drawn between truth and utility by PTT is subject to a simply overwhelming set of counterexamples. Thus, PTT is a theory any sensible theorist of truth must reject. (shrink)
This Presidential Address to the 2008 Annual Meeting of the William James Society pursues an overlooked avenue to understanding what James might have intended by his claim in Pragmatism to offer a “genetic theory of what is meant by truth.” The author argues that we can plausibly interpret this specific claim of James by appealing to Hermann Lotze’s conception of “genetic definition,” explicated in his 1874 Logik, which James read and annotated closely. The essay concludes by pursuing the (...) implications of this thesis for understanding Pragmatism, ‘truth’ in James, and truth and pragmatism in relation to James’s other philosophical commitments. (shrink)
In his lectures on pragmatism presented in the academic year 1913—14 at the Sorbonne, Durkheim argued that James’s pragmatisttheory of truth, due to its emphasis on individual satisfaction, was unable to account for the obligatory, necessary and impersonal character of truth. But for Durkheim to make this charge is only to raise the question whether he himself could account for the morally obligatory or normative character of truth. Although rejecting individualism may be necessary for (...) explaining the existence of norms, it is not sufficient. I argue that Durkheim never succeeded in providing a full account of normativity. Of course, this is a problem that remains unresolved today. Nevertheless, Durkheim took an important step beyond James in recognizing the insufficiency of his individualist account of truth. (shrink)
This paper argues for a rearticulation of the theory of truthmaking within pragmatism. The concept of truthmaking hasusually been employed by metaphysical realists , but it can be reinterpreted in a pragmatistmanner, following both classical and more recent pragmatists’ ideas on the“making of truth” as a process within human experience and world-categorization. Thus, a pragmatist criticism of metaphysical realism can be extended to the core areas of realist metaphysics, including the truthmaking theory.
This entry explores Charles Peirce's account of truth in terms of the end or ‘limit’ of inquiry. This account is distinct from – and arguably more objectivist than – views of truth found in other pragmatists such as James and Rorty. The roots of the account in mathematical concepts is explored, and it is defended from objections that it is (i) incoherent, (ii) in its faith in convergence, too realist and (iii) in its ‘internal realism’, not realist enough.
Charles Sanders Peirce complained that James allowed pragmatism to become "infected" with "seeds of death" like the idea that truth is mutable. The Truth is What Works is an attempt to defend James's pragmatic theory of truth from a wide range of critics including Peirce, Betrand Russell, Hilary Putnam, and Cornel West. Cormier runs the gauntlet of historical and contemporary criticism in an attempt to show, not that Jamesian pragmatism does in fact contain a perfectly good (...)theory of objective reality after all, but rather that it doesn't, and is still a kind of realism anyway because it does not leave individuals and their subjective desires behind in an attempt to describe the real world. (shrink)
We investigate axiomatizations of Kripke's theory of truth based on the Strong Kleene evaluation scheme for treating sentences lacking a truth value. Feferman's axiomatization KF formulated in classical logic is an indirect approach, because it is not sound with respect to Kripke's semantics in the straightforward sense: only the sentences that can be proved to be true in KF are valid in Kripke's partial models. Reinhardt proposed to focus just on the sentences that can be proved to (...) be true in KF and conjectured that the detour through classical logic in KF is dispensable. We refute Reinhardt's Conjecture, and provide a direct axiomatization PKF of Kripke's theory in partial logic. We argue that any natural axiomatization of Kripke's theory in Strong Kleene logic has the same proof-theoretic strength as PKF, namely the strength of the system RA< ωω ramified analysis or a system of Tarskian ramified truth up to ωω. Thus any such axiomatization is much weaker than Feferman's axiomatization KF in classical logic, which is equivalent to the system RA<ε₀ of ramified analysis up to ε₀. (shrink)
This paper assesses the prospects of a pragmatisttheory of content. I begin by criticising the theory presented in D.H. Mellor’s essay ‘Successful Semantics’. I then identify problems and lacunae in the pragmatisttheory of meaning sketched in Chapter 13 of Dummett’s The Logical Basis of Metaphysics. The prospects are brighter, I contend, for a tempered pragmatism, in which the theory of content is permitted to draw upon irreducible notions of truth and falsity. (...) I sketch the shape of such a theory and illustrate the role of its pragmatist elements by showing how they point towards a promising account of the truth conditions of indicative conditionals. A feature of the account is that it validates Modus Ponens whilst invalidating Modus Tollens. (shrink)
Kripke’s theory of truth, 690–716; 1975) has been very successful but shows well-known expressive difficulties; recently, Field has proposed to overcome them by adding a new conditional connective to it. In Field’s theories, desirable conditional and truth-theoretic principles are validated that Kripke’s theory does not yield. Some authors, however, are dissatisfied with certain aspects of Field’s theories, in particular the high complexity. I analyze Field’s models and pin down some reasons for discontent with them, focusing on (...) the meaning of the new conditional and on the status of the principles so successfully recovered. Subsequently, I develop a semantics that improves on Kripke’s theory following Field’s program of adding a conditional to it, using some inductive constructions that include Kripke’s one and feature a strong evaluation for conditionals. The new theory overcomes several problems of Kripke’s one and, although weaker than Field’s proposals, it avoids the difficulties that affect them; at the same time, the new theory turns out to be quite simple. Moreover, the new construction can be used to model various conceptions of what a conditional connective is, in ways that are precluded to both Kripke’s and Field’s theories. (shrink)
Arguments pro and contra convergent realism - underdetermination of theory by observational evidence and pessimistic meta-induction from past falsity- are considered. It is argued that, to meet the counter-arguments challenge, convergent realism should be considerably changed with a help of modification of the propositions from this meta-programme’s “hard core” and “protecting belt”. Maybe one of the ways out is to turn to the coherent theory of truth. Some of the works of Hegel (as interpreted by Merab Mamardashvili (...) and Alexandre Kojev), Husserl and Heidegger can help to dig still deeper into the background of this theory. Key words: Husserl, Heidegger, Hegel, convergent realism, internal realism, coherent theory of truth. -/- . (shrink)
The identity theory of truth takes on different forms depending on whether it is combined with a dual relation or a multiple relation theory of judgment. This paper argues that there are two significant problems for the dual relation identity theorist regarding thought’s answerability to reality, neither of which takes a grip on the multiple relation identity theory.
This article considers the validity and strength of Richard Rorty’s pragmatisttheory of interpretation in the light of two ethical issues related to literature and interpretation. Rorty’s theory is rejected on two grounds. First, it is argued that his unrestrained account of interpretation is incompatible with the distinctive moral concerns that have been seen to restrict the scope and nature of valid approaches to artworks. The second part of the paper claims that there is no indispensable relationship (...) between supporting Rorty’s pragmatisttheory of interpretation and the important place that is attached to literature in the liberal society outlined by him. A reading of Donald Davidson’s texts on literary language and interpretation implies that an intentionalist theory of interpretation can accommodate those features that Rorty values in literature as well. (shrink)
It is argued that if there are truth-value gaps then the disquotational theory of truth is false. Secondly, it is argued that the same conclusion can be reached even without the assumption that there are truth-value gaps.
The aim of this dissertation is to offer and defend a correspondence theory of truth. I begin by critically examining the coherence, pragmatic, simple, redundancy, disquotational, minimal, and prosentential theories of truth. Special attention is paid to several versions of disquotationalism, whose plausibility has led to its fairly constant support since the pioneering work of Alfred Tarski, through that by W. V. Quine, and recently in the work of Paul Horwich. I argue that none of these theories (...) meets the correspondence intuition---that a true sentence or proposition in some way corresponds to reality---despite the explicit claims by each to capture this intuition. I distinguish six versions of the correspondence theory, and defend two against traditional objections, standardly taken as decisive against them, and show, plainly, that these two theories capture the correspondence intuition. Due to the importance of meeting this intuition, only these two theories stands a chance of being a satisfactory theory of truth. I argue that the version of the correspondence theory incorporating a simple semantic representation relation is preferable to its rival, for which the representation relation is complex. I present and argue for a novel version of this correspondence theory according to which truth is a correspondence property sensitive to semantic context. One consequence of this context-sensitivity is that an ungrounded sentence does not express a proposition. In addition to accounting for the similarity between the Liar and Truth-Teller sentences, this theory of truth is immune to the Liar Paradox, including empirical versions. It is argued that the Liar Paradox is devastating to all of the other theories above, and even formal theories of truth designed to solve it, such as the revision and vagueness theories. Customized versions of the Liar Paradox besetting this theory are handled by its context-sensitivity, and by enforcing the distinction between truth and truth value. This same pair of considerations also yields solutions to Lob's Paradox and Grelling's Paradox. Arguments similar to those given to defend this correspondence theory show that with one minor alteration, Kripke's fixed point theory may be used to model this correspondence notion of truth. (shrink)
This chapter reviews interpretations of Davidson's project in the theory of meaning and argues against a variety of views according to which Davidson intended to reduce meaning to some variety of truth conditions or replace the project of giving a theory of meaning with a theory of truth, and in support of interpreting him as offering an indirect way of achieving the goals of the traditional project by appeal to knowledge of facts about a semantic (...)theory of truth for the language, including that it was confirmable from the standpoint of the radical interpreter. (shrink)
In this paper, I give a systematic account of the core features of Jürgen Habermas’s revised approach to truth that comprises both realist and epistemic components. While agents in the lifeworld are pragmatic realists and work on the basic assumption that their beliefs about the world are true, beliefs that have become problematic can be scrutinized only in the form of validity-claims in rational discourses. Thus Habermas introduces a discursive truth predicate that involves a procedural idealization of the (...) conditions of discourse in terms of ‘justified acceptability under conditions that are currently ideal’. He argues that this truth predicate has to be understood in connection with agents’ pragmatic realism to give a comprehensive account of truth. This paper is concerned with the tension between truth-in-the-lifeworld and discursive truth. I argue that Habermas’s account is troubled by two problems: firstly an unclear conception of the role of the truth predicate; and secondly, the suggestion that agents in discourse temporarily abandon their lifeworldly realism. While the first problem can be remedied by exploring the distinction between a truth predicate and a truth criterion, the second difficulty requires a modification of Habermas’s account. I show that the consistency of his approach depends on the acceptance of the principle of bivalence throughout, and hence on the subscription to a certain kind of realism that extends beyond the lifeworld. Key Words: bivalence • discourse • Habermas • lifeworld • pragmatism • realism • truth. (shrink)
The concept of truth arises from puzzling over distinctions between the real and the apparent, while the origin of these distinctions lies in the neurobiology of mammalian cerebral lateralization, that is, in the evolution of brains that can address the world both indicatively and subjunctively; brains that represent the world both categorically and hypothetically. After some 2,500 years of thinking about it, the Western philosophical tradition has come up with three major theories of truth: correspondence, coherence, and (...) class='Hi'>pragmatist. Traditional philosophy has nevertheless failed to arbitrate much among these views; certainly no clear winner has emerged. I argue, however, that contemporary neuroscience provides adequate theoretical grounds for a unified theory of truth. More specifically, I contend that the correspondence, the coherence, and the pragmatic utility of symbols are each biological features of our neurophysiological information processing systems—that is to say, our brains. On my view, the traditional trifurcation of philosophical accounts of the predicate, “is true”, stems from a trifurcation of focus on the information latent in sensory, motor, and somatosensory cortices of the human brain. (shrink)
Nicholas Rescher tackles the major questions of philosophical inquiry, pondering the nature of truth and existence. In the authoritative voice and calculated manner that we’ve come to expect from this distinguished philosopher, Rescher argues that the development of knowledge is a practice, pursued by humans because we have a need for its products. This pragmatic approach satisfies our innate urge as humans to make sense of our surroundings. Taking his discussion down to the level of particular details, and addressing (...) such topics as inductive validation, hypostatization fallacies, and counterfactual reasoning, Rescher abandons abstract generalities in favor of concrete specifics. For example, philosophers usually insist that to reason logically from a counterfactual, we must imagine a possible world in which the statement is fact. But Rescher argues that there’s no need to attempt to accept the facts of a world outside our cognition in order to reason from them. He shows us how we can use our own natural system of prioritizing, our own understanding of the fundamental, to resolve the inconsistencies in such statements as, “If the Eiffel Tower were in Manhattan, then it would be in New York State.” In using dozens of real-world examples such as these, and in arguing in his characteristically succinct style, Rescher casts light on a wide variety of concrete issues in the classical theory of knowledge, and reassures us along the way that the inherent limitations on our knowledge are no cause for distress. In pragmatic theory and inquiry, we must accept that the best we can do is good enough, because we only have a certain set of tools and conceptualizations available to us. A unique synthesis, this endeavor into pragmatic epistemology will be of interest to scholars and students of philosophy and cognitive science. (shrink)
In his influential book Truth, Paul Horwich deploys a philosophical method focused on linguistic usage, that is, on the function(s) the concept of truth serves in actual discourse. In doing so Horwich eschews abstract metaphysics, arguing that metaphysical or ontological conceptions of truth rest on basic misconceptions. From this description, one might reasonably expect Horwich's book to have drawn inspiration from, or even embodied philosophical pragmatism of some kind. Unfortunately Horwich relies upon Russell's tired caricature of pragmatism (...) about truth (''p' is true if and only if it is useful to believe p' (Ibid., p. 34, p. 47)), and as a result underestimates the challenge it poses to Minimalism. This paper develops a pragmatist critique of minimalism that focuses on the seemingly central, plausibly constitutive role played by the concept of truth in the speech-act of assertion. The critique suggests that Horwich's Minimalism does not and cannot accomplish its stated goal of explaining all of the facts involving truth. Indeed, the kind of thorough-going deflationism sought by Horwich and others (including pragmatist sympathizer Bob Brandom) is incompatible with an adequate account of assertion, and perhaps other concepts (like belief, judgement and inquiry) as well. (shrink)
Although it was traditionally thought that self-reference is a crucial ingredient of semantic paradoxes, Yablo (1993, 2004) showed that this was not so by displaying an infinite series of sentences none of which is self-referential but which, taken together, are paradoxical. Yablo's paradox consists of a countable series of linearly ordered sentences s(0), s(1), s(2),... , where each s(i) says: For each k > i, s(k) is false (or equivalently: For no k > i is s(k) true). We generalize Yablo's (...) results along two dimensions. First, we study the behavior of generalized Yablo-series in which each sentence s(i) has the form: For Q k > i, s(k) is true, where Q is a generalized quantifier (e.g., no, every, infinitely many, etc). We show that under broad conditions all the sentences in the series must have the same truth value, and we derive a characterization of those values of Q for which the series is paradoxical. Second, we show that in the Strong Kleene trivalent logic Yablo's results are a special case of a more general fact: under certain conditions, any semantic phenomenon that involves self-reference can be emulated without self-reference. Various translation procedures that eliminate self-reference from a non-quantificational language are defined and characterized. An Appendix sketches an extension to quantificational languages, as well as a new argument that Yablo's paradox and the translations we offer do not involve self-reference. (shrink)
Deflationism is usually thought to differ from the correspondence theory over whether truth is a substantial property. However, I argue that this notion of a ‘substantial property’ is tendentious. I further argue that the Equivalence Schema alone is sufficient to lead to idealism when combined with a pragmatisttheory of truth. Deflationism thus has more powerful metaphysical implications than is generally thought and itself amounts to a kind of correspondence theory.
This systematic development of the internal realist approach, first developed by Hilary Putnam, tries to steer a middle course between metaphysical realism and relativism. It argues against metaphysical realism that it is open to global skepticism and cannot cope with conceptual pluralism. Against relativism it is claimed that there are mind-independent constraints on the validity of our claims to knowledge. The book provides a moderately verificationist account of semantics and novel explanation of the idea of conceptual schemes. It is also (...) argued that internalism realism can accommodate our common sense realist intuitions adn is also compatible with physicalism and naturalism. (shrink)
The paper aims at a perspicuous representation of Isaac Levi's pragmatist epistemology, spanning from the 1967 classic "Gambling with Truth" to his 2004 book on "Mild Contraction". Based on a formal framework for Levi's notion of inquiry, I analyse his decision-theoretic approach with truth and information as basic cognitive values, and with Shackle measures as emerging structures. Both cognitive values figure prominently in Levi's model of inductive belief expansion, but only the value of information is employed in (...) his model of belief contraction. I argue that the former model is more successful than the latter. (shrink)
A formal theory of truth, alternative to tarski's 'orthodox' theory, based on truth-value gaps, is presented. the theory is proposed as a fairly plausible model for natural language and as one which allows rigorous definitions to be given for various intuitive concepts, such as those of 'grounded' and 'paradoxical' sentences.