Friday, June 26, 2015

My latest paper (with my views about truth)

It is titled “Naturalism, Realism and Normativity” and it has just appeared in the new Journal of the American Philosophical Association/Volume 1/Issue 02/June 2015/pp. 312-328.

It argues, inter alia, that Tarski’s results do not support deflationism about truth, contrary to what is often assumed. I write there,
Tarski’s formal methods intuitively draw on and presuppose not just one property of truth, the T-Schema, or Disquotation, but on that property AND the further property that the extension of “true” depends on the extension of “refers”. The concepts of truth and of reference are intimately related, and his entire procedure exploits the relation.”

I also briefly describe and endorse Tyler Burge’s claim that reference is psychologically more primitive and more ubiquitous than language use.

If you are a member of the APA you will receive the journal automatically (it is free to members this first year of publication). If you aren’t, please get your library to subscribe, or at least to get online access!

This paper is directly relevant to my current posts on Davidson and on truth-evaluable content.


  1. You may be interested in hearing that Field was not the first to push the importance of reference to the philosophical interest of Tarski's definition of truth. Way back in 1952, Everett Hall, in his book "What is Value?" wrote,

    “Suppose we wish to gain insight into the nature of fact. We can start by saying “Any fact is an exemplification of a property by a particular.” But…’any fact’ is an improper variable. Its values should be names of facts, but we cannot name a fact. Correct language limits us to the assertion of facts, i.e., to the use of full sentences, not mere names, to refer to them, sentences which in any given case may be false, and thus fail to refer to a fact without being completely without reference (since its terms may still name entities). A given singular sentence is adequate to the assertion of some individual fact, as for example ‘a exemplifies A.’ But now we want to get at its factuality. We can try again by saying, “The fact is that which is in the world when ‘a exemplifies A’ is true but is absent when ‘a exemplifies A’ is false.” But again we cannot tolerate ‘the fact.’ If we eliminate the word ‘fact’ and its equivalents, what can still be done? We can still name sentences, which can be asserted to be true or false, and we can assert facts. In this situation we can get a good deal of help toward showing (not saying) what a fact is by the use of Tarski’s truth-condition: ‘“a exemplifies A’ is true if and only if a exemplifies A, where ‘a’ designates a, and ‘A’ designates A.”

    Coincidentally, Hall thought that unless designation rules (like “‘a’ designates a”) are not entirely meta-linguistic: unless they in some sense actually contain the extra-linguistic entities being designated in them, they are incapable of completely capturing reference. (Perhaps you’d call this a “noetic ray” theory; whatever it is, Hall fought with Carnap about it on several occasions.) But in Hall’s view, not even an infinite number of purely linguistic truths (not even ALL of them) can remedy this failure of intensional constraints to get us precisely to cats or cherries. All the rules would just be, as you have so well said, “more theory” of an ineffectual kind.


    Walter Horn

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