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Elgin, Catherine Z., and . True Enough

2004, Philosophical Issues 14 (1): 113-131. also reprinted in Epistemology: and Anthology, Wiley 2008

Abstract: Truth is standardly considered a requirement on epistemic acceptability. But science and philosophy deploy models, idealizations and thought experiments that prescind from truth to achieve other cognitive ends. I argue that such felicitous falsehoods function as cognitively useful fictions. They are cognitively useful because they exemplify and afford epistemic access to features they share with the relevant facts. They are falsehoods in that they diverge from the facts. Nonetheless, they are true enough to serve their epistemic purposes. Theories that contain them have testable consequences, hence are factually defeasible.

Comment: In a context in which epistemology takes truth to be a necessary condition for knowledge and falsehood as an immediate knowledge defeater, this paper offers a new perspective on the epistemic value of falsehood as playing an important role both in science and in philosophy. In a nutshell, the author argues that although falsehoods diverge from the facts, they are "true enough" to serve their epistemic purpose. Some of the falsehoods employed both in science and philosophy result in models, idealisations and thought experiments: by sharing and exemplifying relevant features of the facts, they end up being cognitively useful. This could work as secondary literature for a postgraduate course in epistemology and philsoophy of science, insofar as it gives a new perspective on epistemic value falshood can play.

Grover, Dorothy, Joseph Kamp and Nuel Belnap. A Prosentential Theory of Truth

1975, Philosophical Studies 27(1): 73-125.

Summary: Classic presentation of the prosentential theory of truth: an important, though minority, deflationist account of truth. Prosententialists take ‘It is true that’ to be a prosentence forming operator that anaphorically picks out content from claims made further back in the anaphoric chain (in the same way that pronouns such as ‘he’, ‘she’ and ‘it’ anaphorically pick out referents from nouns further back in the anaphoric chain).

Comment: Good as a primary reading on a course on truth, philosophy of language, or on deflationism more generally. Any course that treats deflationary accounts of truth in any detail would deal with the prosentential theory of truth, and this is one of the most historically important presentations of that theory. Would be best used in advanced undergraduate or graduate courses.

Gupta, Anil, and . A Critique of Deflationism

1993, Philosophical Topics 21: 57-81.

Summary: Argues against deflationary conceptions of truth. Deflationism provides a descriptive account of the term ‘true’, but these claims, argues Gupta, are both very strong and problematic.

Comment: This would be very useful in a course on the nature of truth, or any course in which deflationary conceptions of truth are relevant. The paper is not technical and provides a good account of deflationism about truth. This would be suitable for undergraduates or graduates.

Gupta, Anil, and . Do the Paradoxes Pose a Special Problem for Deflationism?

2006, In J. C. Beall and Bradley Armour-Garb (eds.), Deflationism and Paradox, Oxford University Press. 133-147.

Summary: The Liar and other semantic paradoxes pose a difficult problem for all theories of truth. Any theory that aims to improve our understanding of the concept of truth must, when fully stated, include an account of the paradoxes. Not only deflationism but also its competitors – for instance, correspondence and coherence – must ultimately address the paradoxes. The question that concerns me in this essay is whether it is especially urgent for deflationism to do so. Are the paradoxes a special threat, a special problem, for deflationism? I will argue that they are not.1 Deflationists can leave the paradoxes to the specialists to puzzle over. It is the specialists who will be well served if they keep some insights of deflationism firmly in view.

Comment: This would be useful in a course on the nature of truth, or on paradoxes. This is slightly more specialised than 'A Critique of Deflationism' but still good reading material for an advanced undergraduate or graduate course. The paper is not easy, but clear and not very technical.

Haack, Susan, and . Philosophy of Logics

1978, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Publisher’s Note: The first systematic exposition of all the central topics in the philosophy of logic, Susan Haack’s book has established an international reputation (translated into five languages) for its accessibility, clarity, conciseness, orderliness, and range as well as for its thorough scholarship and careful analyses. Haack discusses the scope and purpose of logic, validity, truth-functions, quantification and ontology, names, descriptions, truth, truth-bearers, the set-theoretical and semantic paradoxes, and modality. She also explores the motivations for a whole range of nonclassical systems of logic, including many-valued logics, fuzzy logic, modal and tense logics, and relevance logics.

Comment: This textbook is intended particularly for philosophy students who have completed a first course in elementary logic. But, though the book is clearly written, such students still may find the content difficult, as it addresses difficult topics in the foundations of logic the primary literature for which is very technical. That said, it has been a widely used textbook for courses on philosophy of logic. Chapters of it can be used individually in accordance with the arrangements of the course.

Misak, Cheryl, and . Pragmatism and Deflationism

2007, in New Pragmatists, ed. C.Misak. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Summary: A contemporary defense of a pragmatist account of truth, which contrasts the view with various versions of deflationism. Misak defends the claim that to grasp the concept of truth by exploring its connections with practices we engage in – including assertion, believing, reason-giving, and inquiry. The pragmatist conception of truth, it is argued, helps to elucidate realism/anti-realism: inquiry is truth-apt when it aims at establishing propositions that are indefeasible.

Comment: A clear and contemporary reading on pragmatist appraoches to truth in a course on theories of truth. Useful for both advanced undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Taylor, Kenneth A., and . Truth and Meaning: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Language

1998, Oxford: Blackwell

Summary: This lucid and wide-ranging volume constitutes a self-contained introduction to the elements and key issues of the philosophy of language. In particular, it focuses on the philosophical foundations of semantics, including the main challenges to and prospects for a truth conditional semantics. Since the book is neither single-mindedly philosophical, nor single-mindedly technical, it is an accessible introduction to the philosophical foundations of semantics, and will provide the ideal basis for a first course in the philosophy of language and philosophical logic.

Comment: This book offers a good introduction to theories of meaning, and includes some good, clear presentations of specialised systems of logic used in philosophy of language, giving students a good example of the existence and practical usefulness of logic beyond first-order. Chapter 3, on Tarski's formal theory of truth, is one of the better treatments of that subject available. Suitable for undergraduate and graduate teaching.

Thalos, Mariam, and . Truth deserves to be believed

2013, Philosophy 88(2): 179-196.

Abstract: Science seems generally to aim at truth. And governmental support of science is often premised on the instrumental value of truth in service of advancing our practical objectives, both as individuals and as communities, large and small. While there is some political expediency to this view, it is not correct. The value of truth is nowise that it helps us achieve our aims. In fact, just the contrary: truth deserves to be believed only on the condition that its claim upon us is orthogonal to any utility it might have in the service of (any and all) practical ends

Comment: A good anti-pragmatist argument, useful in an exploration of the aims of science, or a good introduction to truth and objectivity in science as an illustration of the reason that might matter. Suitable for both undergraduate and graduate teaching.