A Prosentential Theory of Truth

A Prosentential Theory of Truth

Copyright Date: 1992
Pages: 300
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    A Prosentential Theory of Truth
    Book Description:

    In a number of influential articles published since 1972, Dorothy Grover has developed the prosentential theory of truth. Brought together and published with a new introduction, these essays are even more impressive as a group than they were as single contributions to philosophy and linguistics. Denying that truth has an explanatory role, the prosentential theory does not address traditional truth issues like belief, meaning, and justification. Instead, it focuses on the grammatical role of the truth predicate and asserts that "it is true" is a prosentence, functioning much as a pronoun does. Grover defends the theory by indicating how it can handle notorious paradoxes like the Liar, as well as by analyzing some English truth-usages. The introduction to the volume surveys traditional theories of truth, including correspondence, pragmatic, and coherence theories. It discusses the essays to come and, finally, considers the implications of the prosentential theory for other theories. Despite the fact that the prosentential theory dismisses the "nature of truth" as a red herring, Grover shows that there are important aspects of traditional truth theories that prosentential theorists have the option of endorsing.

    Originally published in 1992.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6268-9
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-2)
  4. CHAPTER 1 Introductory Essay
    (pp. 3-45)

    At the beginning of the century, it was common to write about the nature of truth. Correspondence theorists advocated an analysis of truth in terms of a correspondence relation between linguistic entities, or beliefs, and extralinguistic entities. Pragmatists have been described as reducing truth to ʺwhat worksʺ or to ʺwhat scientists are destined to agree uponʺ; and coherence theorists offered analyses in terms of consistency and comprehensiveness. Frequently different schools of philosophical thought are associated with these theories, e.g., realists are often identified as correspondence theorists, while instrumentalists and anti-realists are assumed to endorse a pragmatic account of truth. In...

  5. CHAPTER 2 Propositional Quantifiers
    (pp. 46-69)

    Propositional quantifiers—are we doing something ʺbadʺ like quantifying ʺover propositionsʺ? Must we have sentences ʺdoubling as namesʺ? Does Carnapʹs semantic definition of truth lack an essential predicate? It is to questions such as these that we address ourselves.

    Quine (1940) has drawn attention to the ʺpronominalʺ character of bound individual variables: Such a characterization is justified by the facts that individual variables are terms (with predicates they form sentences), that the substituends of individual variables are names or definite descriptions of some kind, and that by means of individual variables linguistic cross-references are made. Quine (1970) argues that we...

  6. CHAPTER 3 A Prosentential Theory of Truth
    (pp. 70-120)

    What is a theory of truth? Some take themselves to be giving an account of the property of being true, an explanation of what it is that makes X true when it is true (correspondence, coherence), while others address themselves to the problem of what sorts of things are most fundamentally to be said to be true (propositions, statements, sentences). Underlying these theories and others is a standard grammatical analysis of ordinary English sentences containing ʹis trueʹ: ʹX is trueʹ is analyzed into a subject ʹXʹ and a predicate ʹis trueʹ, where the role of the predicate is to express...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Inheritors and Paradox
    (pp. 121-136)

    Those who hold the traditional view that the primary role of the truth predicate is property ascription encounter problems when they try to determine the truth or falsity of sentences such as ʹThis is falseʹ (the Liar sentence), which appear to be true if false and false if true. In order to save the truth property, it has been customary to seek ways of excluding such sentences from the extensions of ʹtrueʹ and ʹfalseʹ. The source of the problem, and also a way out of the seeming ascription of inconsistent properties, has been seen to lie sometimes with self-reference, sometimes...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Prosentences and Propositional Quantification: A Response to Zimmerman
    (pp. 137-145)

    In Chapter 3 of this book (Grover, Camp and Belnap 1975), we propose an alternative to the simple subject-predicate grammatical analysis of sentences containing ʹtrueʹ and ʹfalseʹ; we then develop an account of the semantic and pragmatic roles of ʹtrueʹ and ʹfalseʹ which is suggested by that alternative. If the prosentential theory is right, ordinary truth talk can be explained without making the assumption that ʹtrueʹ and ʹfalseʹ have as their (primary) role, property ascription. In Part I of his paper, Zimmerman (1978) gives a good summary of our prosentential characterization of ʹtrueʹ.

    Although we recognize that the semanticist may...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Truth
    (pp. 146-172)

    On the one hand it seems that ʹIt is true that snow is whiteʹ, ʹ ʺSnow is whiteʺ is trueʹ, and ʹSnow is whiteʹ all seem to say the same thing: Proponents of some theories of truth claim ʹtrueʹ is redundant; yet on the other hand, if we ask what the sentences are about, different answers come to mind: Proponents of other theories claim ʹtrueʹ is used to ascribe a property or relation to sentences or propositions. Despite the apparent conflict between these positions, each appeals to intuitions that most of us have; our understanding of ʹtrueʹ would be enhanced...

  10. CHAPTER 7 Truth: Do We Need It?
    (pp. 173-206)

    In a recent paper (Chapter 6 of this volume) I considered the possibility that prosentences may be used to define ʺappropriate extensionsʺ for ʹtrueʹ and ʹfalseʹ. The case I considered was one in which meaningful sentence tokens were the candidates for membership in the extensions of ʹtrueʹ and ʹfalseʹ: A sentence token belongs to the extension of ʹtrueʹ just in case it is true, and it belongs to the extension of ʹfalseʹ just in case it is false. For example, ʹSnow is whiteʹ belongs to the extension of ʹtrueʹ just in case it is true. (ʹIt is trueʹ and ʹIt...

  11. CHAPTER 8 Berryʹs Paradox
    (pp. 207-214)

    Given a list of descriptions in English which ʺnameʺ integers, there will be a least integer which is not named in less than nineteen syllables. It seems that the integer is described as

    (1) The least integer not described in less than nineteen syllables

    Suppose we add (1) to the list. Then the candidate referent of (1) fails to satisfy the description. In failing to satisfy the description, it can no longer be the referent of (1), but if itʹs not the referent, it again becomes the candidate referent. This is Berryʹs paradox.¹

    Berryʹs description, like the Liar sentence (ʹThis...

  12. CHAPTER 9 On Two Deflationary Truth Theories
    (pp. 215-233)

    At one time, debates about truth centered on questions concerning the ʺnature of truth.ʺ Then Ramsey (1927) observed that ʺ ʹit is true that Caesar was murderedʹ means no more than that Caesar was murdered, and ʹIt is false that Caesar was murderedʹ means that Caesar was not murdered.ʺ Such observations have led philosophers to question the assumption that truth has a nature that must be theorized about. So there are now two schools of thought concerning truth: Some philosophers argue that truth is to be analyzed in terms of either epistemic or metaphysical concepts (as in ʺTruth is a...

  13. CHAPTER 10 Propositional Quantification and Quotation Contexts
    (pp. 234-243)

    In his discussion concerning the concept of truth in colloquial language, Tarski (1936) raises doubts as to whether we can sensibly quantify into quotation mark names. In this context he considers two ways of treating quotation mark names. The first treats a quotation mark name as a single word, i.e., as a syntactically simple expression. The second treats a quotation mark name as a syntactically composite expression of which both the quotation marks and the expression within the quotation marks are parts. I shall be concerned to develop this second approach in the next few pages. According to this approach,...

  14. CHAPTER 11 Quantifying in and out of Quotes
    (pp. 244-276)

    Logic is many things: a science, an art, a toy, a joy, and sometimes a tool. One thing the logician can do is provide useful systems, systems that are both widely applicable and efficient: Set theory has been developed for the mathematician, modal logic for the metaphysician, Boolean logic for the computer scientist, syllogistics for the rhetorician, and the first-order functional calculus for us all.

    It is in this spirit that we should like to discuss the combination of quotation with quantifiers bearing the substitutional interpretation, for use by the logicians themselves or indeed by any practicing metalinguist. We do...

  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 277-284)
  16. Index
    (pp. 285-288)