Alexis G. Burgess
John P. Burgess
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 176
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    This is a concise, advanced introduction to current philosophical debates about truth. A blend of philosophical and technical material, the book is organized around, but not limited to, the tendency known as deflationism, according to which there is not much to say about the nature of truth. In clear language, Burgess and Burgess cover a wide range of issues, including the nature of truth, the status of truth-value gaps, the relationship between truth and meaning, relativism and pluralism about truth, and semantic paradoxes from Alfred Tarski to Saul Kripke and beyond. Following a brief introduction that reviews the most influential traditional and contemporary theories of truth, short chapters cover Tarski, deflationism, indeterminacy, realism, antirealism, Kripke, and the possible insolubility of semantic paradoxes. The book provides a rich picture of contemporary philosophical theorizing about truth, one that will be essential reading for philosophy students as well as philosophers specializing in other areas.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3869-1
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-15)

    Inquiry, it is said, aims at the truth. Yet it’s doubtful there is any such thing asthetruth. So it might be better to say that inquiry aims at truths, and better still to say that different inquiries from archeology to zoology aim at different truths from archeological to zoological. Such inquiries have had many successes, but in many cases inquiries are still underway, and success has not yet been achieved. Thus some truths are known, others unknown. But what, if anything, do the different truths, known and unknown, about different topics have in common, to make them all...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Tarski
    (pp. 16-32)

    Tarski was, by his own account, primarily a mathematician, though also “perhaps a philosopher of a sort.” He foresaw important applications for a notion of truth in mathematics, but also saw that mathematicians were suspicious of that notion, and rightly so given the state of understanding of itcirca1930. In a series of papers in Polish, German, French, and English from the 1930s on he attempted to rehabilitate the notion for use in mathematics, and his efforts had by the 1950s resulted in the creation of a branch of mathematical logic known asmodel theory. This fact alone makes...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Deflationism
    (pp. 33-51)

    In turning from Tarski’s work to the deflationist-realist-antirealist debate we are turning from work largely motivated by concerns about the paradoxes to work more directly motivated by questions about the nature of truth. About this work there is a great deal to be said even ignoring the bearing of the paradoxes, so let us set them aside for the time being, and return to the question with which we began this book, “What do the different truths about different topics all have in common, to make them all truths?”

    The answers offered by traditional views tended to make truth a...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Indeterminacy
    (pp. 52-67)

    The equivalence principle (“Saying something is true is equivalent to just saying it”) has been less controversial than deflationism’s other theses, but it has been challenged by examples of what we will callindeterminacy. These are cases where we have a question “Are things thus?” to which neither the affirmative nor the negative answer seems appropriate, and not just because of ignorance on our part. If the question “Are things thus?” cannot be answered “Yes” or “No,” then it seems the corresponding declarative “Things are thus” cannot be called “true” or “false,” and so it seems we have a counterexample...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Realism
    (pp. 68-82)

    Even in traditional philosophy, the label “realism” had multiple uses whose connections with each other were anything but clear. There was, for instance, realism about universals (properties and relations), as opposed toconceptualismandnominalism, but also realism about material objects, as opposed toidealism. In present-day analytic philosophy the terminological situation is so bad as to have led one important contributor to our subject to say that a philosopher who announces without further explanation that she is a realist has accomplished no more than to clear her throat. With other terms it is reasonable to demand that authors use...

  10. CHAPTER SIX Antirealism
    (pp. 83-101)

    As mentioned at the beginning of the preceding chapter, in traditional philosophy there were several debates pitting a group called “realists” against a group called something else—a different something else in each debate. The realists were those who maintained the “real” or “objective” or “independent” existence of something—a different something in each debate. Early in the last century there was a debate between two groups of mathematicians:classicalmathematicians (now the immense majority) and mathematicalintuitionists(now a tiny minority). The former accepted certain existence proofs that the latter rejected, and so the debate was usually perceived as...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN Kripke
    (pp. 102-115)

    Tarski was the most prominent advocate of theinconsistency theoryof truth, notoriously maintaining that the intuitive notion of truth is self-contradictory. (Holding, like many positivistically inclined philosophers of his day, that languages come equipped with “meaning postulates” or “semantic rules,” he expressed his view that those governing “true” permit the deduction of contradictions by saying that natural languages like English are inconsistent, a claim that some later commentators, in real or feigned ignorance of the historical background, have professed to find unintelligible.) His aim was to define rigorously a restricted substitute for the intuitive notion of truth, safely usable...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT Insolubility?
    (pp. 116-134)

    Those engaged in mainly technical work of the kind considered in the preceding chapter do not generally discuss at any length whether their constructions are to be regarded as models describing our intuitive notion of truth, showing it to be consistent, or as prescriptions for modification of an intuitive notion of truth that is inconsistent. Those writing on the more purely philosophical side of the question of the paradoxes of truth do have to take a stand, and among them consistency theorists far outnumber inconsistency theorists. In surveying the more purely philosophical side of the subject in this chapter we...

  13. Further Reading
    (pp. 135-142)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 143-152)
  15. Index
    (pp. 153-158)