We present a theory of truth in fiction that improves on Lewis's  ‘Analysis 2’ in two ways. First, we expand Lewis's possible worlds apparatus by adding non-normal or impossible worlds. Second, we model truth in fiction as belief revision via ideas from dynamic epistemic logic. We explain the major objections raised against Lewis's original view and show that our theory overcomes them.
Why, when asking oneself whether to believe that p, must one immediately recognize that this question is settled by, and only by, answering the question whether p is true? Truth is not an optional end for first-personal doxastic deliberation, providing an instrumental or extrinsic reason that an agent may take or leave at will. Otherwise there would be an inferential step between discovering the truth with respect to p and determining whether to believe that p, involving a bridge (...) premise that it is good (in whichever sense of good one likes, moral, prudential, aesthetic, allthings-considered, etc.) to believe the truth with respect to p. But there is no such gap between the two questions within the first-personal deliberative perspective; the question whether to believe that p seems to collapse into the question whether p is true. (shrink)
The concept of truth arguably plays a central role in many areas of philosophical theorizing. Yet, what seems to be one of the most fundamental principles governing that concept, i.e. the equivalence between P and , is inconsistent in full classical logic, as shown by the semantic paradoxes. I propose a new solution to those paradoxes, based on a principled revision of classical logic. Technically, the key idea consists in the rejection of the unrestricted validity of the structural principle (...) of contraction. I first motivate philosophically this idea with the metaphysical picture of the states-of-affairs expressed by paradoxical sentences as being distinctively . I then proceed to demonstrate that the theory of truth resulting from this metaphysical picture is, in many philosophically interesting respects, surprisingly stronger than most other theories of truth endorsing the equivalence between P and (for example, the theory vindicates the validity of the traditional laws of excluded middle and of non-contradiction, and also vindicates the traditional constraint of truth preservation on logical consequence). I conclude by proving a cutelimination theorem that shows the consistency of the theory. (shrink)
Truth-talk exhibits certain features that render it philosophically suspect and motivate a deflationary account. I offer a new formulation of deflationism that explains truth-talk in terms of semantic pretense. This amounts to a fictionalist account of truth-talk but avoids an error-theoretic interpretation and its resulting incoherence. The pretense analysis fits especially well with deflationism’s central commitment, and it handles truth-talk’s unusual features effectively. In particular, this approach suggests an interesting strategy for dealing with the Liar paradox. (...) This version of deflationism has advantages over the formulations currently available in the literature, mainly because it offers a more satisfying account of the generalizing role deflationary views take as truth-talk’s central function. Explaining the notion of truth in terms of pretense generates some special concerns, but none we cannot address through careful consideration of how pretense operates in truth-talk and of the attitudes instances of pretending involve. (shrink)
"In this exceptionally brilliant book, ranging effortlessly from Herodotus and Thucydides to Diderot and Nietzsche, Bernard Williams daringly asks--and still more daringly answers--one of the central questions of philosophy: what is the ...
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.
What does it mean to be truthful? What role does truth play in our lives? What do we lose if we reject truthfulness? No philosopher is better suited to answer these questions than Bernard Williams. Writing with his characteristic combination of passion and elegant simplicity, he explores the value of truth and finds it to be both less and more than we might imagine.Modern culture exhibits two attitudes toward truth: suspicion of being deceived and skepticism that objective (...)truth exists at all. This tension between a demand for truthfulness and the doubt that there is any truth to be found is not an abstract paradox. It has political consequences and signals a danger that our intellectual activities, particularly in the humanities, may tear themselves to pieces.Williams's approach, in the tradition of Nietzsche's genealogy, blends philosophy, history, and a fictional account of how the human concern with truth might have arisen. Without denying that we should worry about the contingency of much that we take for granted, he defends truth as an intellectual objective and a cultural value. He identifies two basic virtues of truth, Accuracy and Sincerity, the first of which aims at finding out the truth and the second at telling it. He describes different psychological and social forms that these virtues have taken and asks what ideas can make best sense of them today. Truth and Truthfulness presents a powerful challenge to the fashionable belief that truth has no value, but equally to the traditional faith that its value guarantees itself. Bernard Williams shows us that when we lose a sense of the value of truth, we lose a lot both politically and personally, and may well lose everything. (shrink)
The relative merits and demerits of historically prominent views such as the correspondence theory, coherentism, pragmatism, verificationism, and instrumentalism have been subject to much attention in the truth literature and have fueled the long-lived debate over which of these views is the most plausible one. While diverging in their specific philosophical commitments, adherents of these historically prominent views agree in at least one fundamental respect. They are all alethic monists. They all endorse the thesis that there is only one (...) property in virtue of which propositions can be true, and so, in this sense, take truth to be one. The truth pluralist, on the other hand, rejects this idea. There are several properties in virtue of which propositions can be true. The literature on truth pluralism has been growing steadily for the past twenty years. This volume, however, is the first of its kind—the first collection of papers focused specifically on pluralism about truth. Part I is dedicated to the development, investigation, and critical discussion of different forms of pluralism. An additional reason to look at truth pluralism with interest is the significant connections it bears to other debates in the truth literature—the debates concerning traditional theories of truth and the deflationism/inflationism divide being cases in hand. Parts II and III of the volume connect truth pluralism to these two debates. (shrink)
This paper argues that truth predicates in natural language and their variants, predicates of correctness, satisfaction and validity, do not apply to propositions (not even with 'that'-clauses), but rather to a range of attitudinal and modal objects. As such natural language reflects a notion of truth that is primarily a normative notion of correctness constitutive of representational objects. The paper moreover argues that 'true' is part of a larger class of satisfaction predicates whose semantic differences are best accounted (...) for in terms of a truthmaker theory along the lines of Fine's recent truthmaker semantics. (shrink)
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)
Why, when asking oneself whether to believe that p, must one immediately recognize that this question is settled by, and only by, answering the question whether p is true? Truth is not an optional end for first-personal doxastic deliberation, providing an instrumental or extrinsic reason that an agent may take or leave at will. Otherwise there would be an inferential step between discovering the truth with respect to p and determining whether to believe that p, involving a bridge (...) premise that it is good to believe the truth with respect to p. But there is no such gap between the two questions within the first-personal deliberative perspective; the question whether to believe that p seems to collapse into the question whether p is true. (shrink)
It is argued that if we take grounding to be univocal, then there is a serious tension between truth-grounding and one commonly assumed structural principle for grounding, namely transitivity. The primary claim of the article is that truth-grounding cannot be transitive. Accordingly, it is either the case that grounding is not transitive or that truth-grounding is not grounding, or both.
Introductory students regularly endorse naïve skepticism—unsupported or uncritical doubt about the existence and universality of truth—for a variety of reasons. Though some of the reasons for students’ skepticism can be traced back to the student—for example, a desire to avoid engaging with controversial material or a desire to avoid offense—naïve skepticism is also the result of how introductory courses are taught, deemphasizing truth to promote students’ abilities to develop basic disciplinary skills. While this strategy has a number of (...) pedagogical benefits, it prevents students in early stages of intellectual development from understanding truth as a threshold concept. Using philosophy as a case study, I argue that we can make progress against naïve skepticism by clearly discussing how metadisciplinary aims differ at the disciplinary and course levels in a way that is meaningful, reinforced, and accessible. (shrink)
Functionalism about truth, or alethic functionalism, is one of our most promising approaches to the study of truth. In this chapter, I chart a course for functionalist inquiry that centrally involves the empirical study of ordinary thought about truth. In doing so, I review some existing empirical data on the ways in which we think about truth and offer suggestions for future work on this issue. I also argue that some of our data lend support to (...) two kinds of pluralism regarding ordinary thought about truth. These pluralist views, as I show, can be straightforwardly integrated into the broader functionalist framework. The main result of this integration is that some unexplored metaphysical views about truth become visible. To close the chapter, I briefly respond to one of the most serious objections to functionalism, due to Cory Wright. (shrink)
The paper criticizes epistemological conceptions of analytic or conceptual truth, on which assent to such truths is a necessary condition of understanding them. The critique involves no Quinean scepticism about meaning. Rather, even granted that a paradigmatic candidate for analyticity is synonymy with a logical truth, both the former and the latter can be intelligibly doubted by linguistically competent deviant logicians, who, although mistaken, still constitute counterexamples to the claim that assent is necessary for understanding. There are no (...) analytic or conceptual truths in the epistemological sense. The critique is extended to purportedly analytic inference rules. An alternative account is sketched on which understanding a word is a matter of participation in a linguistic practice, while synonymy and concept identity consist in sameness of truth-conditional semantic properties. Although there are philosophical questions about concepts, the idea that philosophical questions in general are conceptual questions generates only an illusion of insight into philosophical methodology. (shrink)
Many in philosophy understand truth in terms of precise semantic values, true propositions. Following Braun and Sider, I say that in this sense almost nothing we say is, literally, true. I take the stand that this account of truth nonetheless constitutes a vitally useful idealization in understanding many features of the structure of language. The Fregean problem discussed by Braun and Sider concerns issues about application of language to the world. In understanding these issues I propose an alternative (...) modeling tool summarized in the idea that inaccuracy of statements can be accommodated by their imprecision. This yields a pragmatist account of truth, but one not subject to the usual counterexamples. The account can also be viewed as an elaborated error theory. The paper addresses some prima facie objections and concludes with implications for how we address certain problems in philosophy. (shrink)
The goal of this paper is to make sense of relativism about truth. There are two key ideas. (1) To be a relativist about truth is to allow that a sentence or proposition might be assessment-sensitive: that is, its truth value might vary with the context of assessment as well as the context of use. (2) Making sense of relativism is a matter of understanding what it would be to commit oneself to the truth of an (...) assessment-sensitive sentence or proposition. (shrink)
Functionalists about truth employ Ramsification to produce an implicit definition of the theoretical term _true_, but doing so requires determining that the theory introducing that term is itself true. A variety of putative dissolutions to this problem of epistemic circularity are shown to be unsatisfactory. One solution is offered on functionalists' behalf, though it has the upshot that they must tread on their anti-pluralist commitments.
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.
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)
Gettier presented the now famous Gettier problem as a challenge to epistemology. The methods Gettier used to construct his challenge, however, utilized certain principles of formal logic that are actually inappropriate for the natural language discourse of the Gettier cases. In that challenge to epistemology, Gettier also makes truth claims that would be considered controversial in analytic philosophy of language. The Gettier challenge has escaped scrutiny in these other relevant academic disciplines, however, because of its façade as an epistemological (...) analysis. This article examines Gettier's methods with the analytical tools of logic and analytic philosophy of language. (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)
We might suppose it is not only instrumentally valuable for beliefs to be true, but that it is intrinsically valuable – truth makes a non-derivative, positive contribution to a belief's overall value. Some intrinsic goods are better than others, though, and this article considers the question of how good truth is, compared to other intrinsic goods. I argue that truth is the worst of all intrinsic goods; every other intrinsic good is better than it. I also suggest (...) the best explanation for truth's inferiority is that it is not really an intrinsic good at all. It is intrinsically neutral. (shrink)
In a paper in this journal, I defend the view that truth is the fundamental norm for assertion and, in doing so, reject the view that knowledge is the fundamental norm for assertion. In a recent response, Littlejohn raises a number of objections against my arguments. In this reply, I argue that Littlejohn’s objections are unsuccessful.
Many topics have not been covered, in most cases because I don't know quite what to say about them. Would it be possible to add a decidability predicate to the language? What about stronger connectives, like exclusion negation or Lukasiewicz implication? Would an expanded language do better at expressing its own semantics? Would it contain new and more terrible paradoxes? Can the account be supplemented with a workable notion of inherent truth (see note 36)? In what sense does stage (...) semantics lie “between” fixed point and stability semantics? In what sense, exactly, are our semantical rules inconsistent? In what sense, if any, does their inconsistency resolve the problem of the paradoxes?The ideals of strength, grounding, and closure together define an intuitively appealing conception of truth. Nothing would be gained by insisting that it was the intuitive conception of truth, and in fact recent developments make me wonder whether such a thing exists. However that may be, until the alternatives are better understood it would be foolish to attempt to decide between them. Truth gives up her secrets slowly and grudgingly, and loves to confound our presumptions. (shrink)
A wide-ranging study of the central concepts in epistemology - belief, truth and knowledge. Professor Armstrong offers a dispositional account of general beliefs and of knowledge of general propositions. Belief about particular matters of fact are described as structures in the mind of the believer which represent or 'map' reality, while general beliefs are dispositions to extend the 'map' or introduce casual relations between portions of the map according to general rules. 'Knowledge' denotes the reliability of such beliefs as (...) representations of reality. Within this framework Professor Armstrong offers a distinctive account of many of the main questions in general epistemology - the relations between beliefs and language, the notions of proposition, concept and idea, the analysis of truth, the varieties of knowledge, and the way in which beleifs and knowledge are supported by reasons. The book as a whole if offered as a contribution to a naturalistic account of man. (shrink)
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)
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)
Engel argues that, although the minimalist conception of truth is basically right, it does not follow that truth can be eliminated from our philosophical thinking, as is claimed by some radical deflationists. In particular, he shows that some deflationist views have a definitively relativist and "postmodernist" ring and should be rejected. Even if a metaphysically substantive theory of truth has little chance to succeed, he argues, truth plays a central role as a norm or guiding value (...) of our rational inquiries and practices in the philosophy of knowledge and in ethics. (shrink)
In general, most, but not necessarily all, patients want truthfulness about their health. Available evidence indicates that truth-telling practices and preferences are, to an extent, a cultural artefact. It is the case that practices among nurses and doctors have moved towards more honest and truthful disclosure to their patients. It is interesting that arguments both for and against truth-telling are established in terms of autonomy and physical and psychological harm. In the literature reviewed here, there is also the (...) view that truth-telling is essential because it is an intrinsic good, while it is argued against on the grounds of the uncertainty principle. Based on this review, it is recommended that practitioners ought to ask patients and patients' families what informational requirements are preferred, and research should continue into truth-telling in clinical practice, particularly to discover its very nature as a cultural artefact, and the other conditions and contexts in which truth-telling may not be preferred. (shrink)
We show that the set of ultimately true sentences in Hartry Field's Revenge-immune solution model to the semantic paradoxes is recursively isomorphic to the set of stably true sentences obtained in Hans Herzberger's revision sequence starting from the null hypothesis. We further remark that this shows that a substantial subsystem of second-order number theory is needed to establish the semantic values of sentences in Field's relative consistency proof of his theory over the ground model of the standard natural numbers: -CA0 (...) (second-order number theory with a -comprehension axiom scheme) is insufficient. We briefly consider his claim to have produced a solution to the semantic paradoxes by introducing this conditional. We remark that the notion of a operator can be introduced in other settings. (shrink)
Conceptual engineering is to be explained by appeal to the externalist distinction between concepts and conceptions. If concepts are determined by non-conceptual relations to objective properties rather than by associated conceptions (whether individual or communal), then topic preservation through semantic change will be possible. The requisite level of objectivity is guaranteed by the possibility of collective error and does not depend on a stronger level of objectivity, such as mind-independence or independence from linguistic or social practice more generally. This means (...) that the requisite level of objectivity is exhibited not only by natural kinds, but also by a wide range of philosophical kinds, social kinds and artefactual kinds. The alternative externalist accounts of conceptual engineering offered by Herman Cappelen and Derek Ball fall back into a kind of descriptivism which is antithetical to externalism and fails to recognise this basic level of objectivity. (shrink)
Sometimes a belief that p promotes having true beliefs, whether or not p is true. This gives reasons to believe that p, but most epistemologists would deny that it gives epistemic reasons, or that these reasons can epistemically justify the belief that p. Call these reasons to believe “truth promoting non-evidential reasons for belief.” This paper argues that three common views in epistemology, taken together, entail that reasons of this sort can epistemically justify beliefs. These three claims are: epistemic (...) oughts are normative, epistemic oughts have a source, and the source of epistemic oughts is an end that has true belief as a necessary component. These claims would be hard for many epistemologists to deny, but accepting them, and thus accepting that truth promoting non-evidential reasons can justify beliefs, has significant consequences for epistemology. The paper considers accounts of epistemic oughts that endorse these claims but might seem to avoid the consequence that truth promoting non-evidential reasons generate real epistemic oughts, and shows that none do. (shrink)
Mixed inferences are a problem for those who want to combine truth-assessability and antirealism with respect to allegedly nondescriptive sentences: the classical account of validity has apparently to be given up. J.C. Beall's response is that validity can be defined as the conservation of designated valued (Beall 2000). I argue that since it presupposes a truth predicate that can be applied to all sentences, this suggestion is not helpful. I also consider problems arising from mixed conjunctions and discuss (...) the deeper worry that the distinction between truth which does and truth which does not entail realism is inferentially irrelevant. (shrink)
In this book, Scott Soames illuminates the notion of truth and the role it plays in our ordinary thought as well as in our logical, philosophical, and scientific theories. Soames aims to integrate and deepen the most significant insights on truth from a variety of sources. He powerfully brings together the best technical work and the most important philosophical reflection on truth and shows how each can illuminate the other. Investigating such questions as whether we need a (...)truth predicate at all, what theoretical tasks it allows us to accomplish, and how we are to understand the content of any predicate capable of accomplishing these tasks, Soames organizes his discussion into three parts. Part I addresses crucial foundational issues as it identifies the bearers of truth, provides a basis for distinguishing truth from other notions, and formulates positive responses to well-known forms of truth-skepticism. Part II explicates the formal theories of Alfred Tarski and Saul Kripke and evaluates the philosophical significance of their work. It discusses their treatments of the Liar paradox, the relationship between truth and proof, the notion of a partially defined predicate, the concepts of logical truth and logical consequence, and the connection between truth and meaning. Part III extends important lessons drawn from Tarski and Kripke into new domains: vague predicates, the Sorites paradox, and the development of a larger, deflationary perspective on truth. Throughout the book, Soames examines a wide range of deflationary theories of truth, and attempts to separate what is correct and worth preserving in them from what is not. In doing so, he seeks to clear up many of the most significant philosophical doubts about truth. Written for a general audience while offering engaging material to the specialist, this rich study will be profitably read by both. (shrink)
Knowledge requires truth, and truth, we suppose, involves unflawed representation. Science does not provide knowledge in this sense but rather provides models, representations that are limited in their accuracy, precision, or, most often, both. Truth as we usually think of it is an idealization, one that serves wonderfully in most ordinary applications, but one that can terribly mislead for certain issues in philosophy. This article sketches how this happens for five important issues, thereby showing how philosophical method (...) must take into account the idealized nature of our familiar conception of truth. (shrink)
This paper describes a theory of accuracy or approximate truth and applies it to problems in the realist interpretation of scientific theories. It argues not only that realism requires approximate truth, but that an adequate theory of approximation also presupposes some elements of a realist interpretation of theories. The paper distinguishes approximate truth from vagueness, probability and verisimilitude, and applies it to problems of confirmation and deduction from inaccurate premises. Basic results are cited, but details appear elsewhere. (...) Objections are surveyed, including arguments by Miller, Laymon, and Laudan. Comparison is made with Niiniluoto's theory of verisimilitude, and the utility of his theory for realism assessed. (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)
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)