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Bezuidenhout, Anne, , . Truth-Conditional Pragmatics
2002, Philosophical Perspectives 16:105-134.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Thomas Hodgson

Abstract: The mainstream view in philosophy of language is that sentence meaning determines truth-conditions. A corollary is that the truth or falsity of an utterance depends only on what words mean and how the world is arranged. Although several prominent philosophers (Searle, Travis, Recanati, Moravcsik) have challenged this view, it has proven hard to dislodge. The alternative view holds that meaning underdetermines truth-conditions. What is expressed by the utterance of a sentence in a context goes beyond what is encoded in the sentence itself. Truth-conditional content depends on an indefinite number of unstated background assumptions, not all of which can be made explicit. A change in background assumptions can change truth-conditions, even bracketing disambiguation and reference assignment. That is, even after disambiguating any ambiguous words in a sentence and assigning semantic values to any indexical expressions in the sentence, truth-conditions may vary with variations in the background.

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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Cartwright, Nancy, , . The Truth Doesn’t Explain Much
1980, American Philosophical Quarterly 17(2): 159 – 163.
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Added by: Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Summary: It has sometimes been argued that the covering law model in philosophy of science is too permissive about what gets to count as an explanation. This paper, by contrast, argues that it lets in too little, since there are far too few covering laws to account for all of our explanations. In fact, we rely on ceteris paribus laws that are literally false. Though these are not a true description of nature, they do a good job of allowing us to explain phenomena, so we should be careful to keep those two functions of science separate.

Comment: This relatively brief article offers a good illustration of how, contrary to some preconceptions, science does not always aim at absolute or universal truths, and instead allows pragmatic considerations to play a large role. Useful as part of an examination of what scientific laws really are and what their role is.

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Elgin, Catherine Z., , . True Enough
2004, Philosophical Issues 14 (1): 113-131. also reprinted in Epistemology: and Anthology, Wiley 2008
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Added by: Giada Fratantonio, Contributed by:

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.

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Grover, Dorothy, Joseph Kamp, Nuel Belnap. A Prosentential Theory of Truth
1975, Philosophical Studies 27(1): 73-125.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

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.

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Grover, Dorothy, , . How Significant is the Liar?
2008, In J. C. Beall & Bradley Armour-Garb (eds.), Deflationism and Paradox. OUP Oxford.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

Summary: Grover argues that one should be unconcerned about the liar paradox. In formal languages there are uniform ties between syntax and semantics: a term, in all its occurrences, carries a fixed meaning; and sequences of sentences that are (syntactically) proofs are always (semantically) inferences. These two features do not hold of natural languages. Grover makes use of this claim to argue that there are no arguments to contradictions from liar sentences in natural languages, as the relevant syntactic ‘moves’ do not come with relevant semantic ‘moves’.

Comment: This would be useful in a course on truth, the philosophy of language or paradoxes. It provides a very up to date account of the prosentential theory of truth and how it may be able to deal with semantic paradoxes. Not as technical as some literature on the topic.

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Grover, Dorothy, , . Inheritors and Paradox
1977, Journal of Philosophy 74(10): 590-604
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

Summary: Classic account of the way in which the prosentential theory of truth handles the liar paradox. 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). Liar sentences have no proposition-stating antecedents in the anaphoric chain. As a result, the problem of the liar does not arise.

Comment: Good as a primary reading on a course on truth, paradox, 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. This is particularly useful in courses on paradox, as it is a rare articulation of the idea that the liar paradox is not “deep” and does not require large revisions to classical logic. Would be best used in advanced undergraduate or graduate courses.

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Gupta, Anil, , . A Critique of Deflationism
1993, Philosophical Topics 21: 57-81.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

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.

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Gupta, Anil, , . 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.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

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.

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Haack, Susan, , . Philosophy of Logics
1978, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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Added by: Jie Gao, Contributed by:

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.

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Hieronymi, Pamela, , . Controlling Attitudes
2006, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 87 (1):45-74
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Lizzy Ventham

Abstract: I hope to show that, although belief is subject to two quite robust forms of agency, “believing at will” is impossible; one cannot believe in the way one ordinarily acts. Further, the same is true of intention: although intention is subject to two quite robust forms of agency, the features of belief that render believing less than voluntary are present for intention, as well. It turns out, perhaps surprisingly, that you can no more intend at will than believe at will.

Comment: I find this paper to be a valuable addition to classes on implicit biases, reasons, and moral psychology. It provides a good basis for discussion on how these topics relate to free will, and what sorts of control (and responsibilities) we have over our mental lives – including our desires, our beliefs, and other thoughts.

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Misak, Cheryl, , . Pragmatism and Deflationism
2007, in New Pragmatists, ed. C.Misak. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

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.

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Russell, Gillian, , . The Analytic/Synthetic Distinction
2014, Philosophy Compass 2(5): 712–729.
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Added by: Giada Fratantonio and Berta Grimau, Contributed by:

Abstract: Once a standard tool in the epistemologist’s kit, the analytic/synthetic distinction was challenged by Quine and others in the mid-twentieth century and remains controversial today. But although the work of a lot contemporary philosophers touches on this distinction – in the sense that it either has consequences for it, or it assumes results about it – few have really focussed on it recently. This has the consequence that a lot has happened that should affect our view of the analytic/synthetic distinction, while little has been done to work out exactly what the effects are. All these features together make the topic ideal for either a survey or research seminar at the graduate level: it can provide an organising theme which justifies a spectrum of classic readings from Locke to Williamson, passing though Kant, Frege, Carnap, Quine and Kripke on the way, but it could also provide an excuse for a much more narrowly construed research seminar which studies the consequences of really contemporary philosophy of language and linguistics for the distinction

Comment: This paper can be used as introductory/background reading on the topic of the analytic/synthetic distinction and the famous Quinean critique to it. Suitable for an advance course on philosophy of language or a specialised course on the analytic/synthetic distinction. It can also be used in a course on the history of analytic philosophy.

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Russell, Gillian, , . Truth in Virtue of Meaning: A Defence of the Analytic/Synthetic Distinction
2008, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Giada Fratantonio and Berta Grimau, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: The analytic/synthetic distinction looks simple. It is a distinction between two different kinds of sentence. Synthetic sentences are true in part because of the way the world is, and in part because of what they mean. Analytic sentences – like all bachelors are unmarried and triangles have three sides – are different. They are true in virtue of meaning, so no matter what the world is like, as long as the sentence means what it does, it will be true.

This distinction seems powerful because analytic sentences seem to be knowable in a special way. One can know that all bachelors are unmarried, for example, just by thinking about what it means. But many twentieth-century philosophers, with Quine in the lead, argued that there were no analytic sentences, that the idea of analyticity didn’t even make sense, and that the analytic/synthetic distinction was therefore an illusion. Others couldn’t see how there could fail to be a distinction, however ingenious the arguments of Quine and his supporters.

But since the heyday of the debate, things have changed in the philosophy of language. Tools have been refined, confusions cleared up, and most significantly, many philosophers now accept a view of language – semantic externalism – on which it is possible to see how the distinction could fail. One might be tempted to think that ultimately the distinction has fallen for reasons other than those proposed in the original debate.

In Truth in Virtue of Meaning, Gillian Russell argues that it hasn’t. Using the tools of contemporary philosophy of language, she outlines a view of analytic sentences which is compatible with semantic externalism and defends that view against the old Quinean arguments. She then goes on to draw out the surprising epistemological consequences of her approach.

Comment: This can be used as further/secondary reading for a postgraduate course on epistemology or philosophy of language, focusing on Quine and on the analytic/synthetic distinction.

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Ruth Garrett Millikan, , . Truth, Rules, Hoverflies, and the Kripke-Wittgenstein Paradox
1990, Philosophical Review 99 (3):323-53
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Hannah Ginsborg

Abstract: “[T]he sceptical argument that Kripke attributes to Wittgenstein, and even the ‘sceptical solution’, are of considerable importance regardless of whether they are clearly Wittgenstein’s. The naturalistically inclined philosopher, who rejects Brentano’s irreducibility and yet holds intentionality to be an objective feature of our thoughts, owes a solution to the Kripke-Wittgenstein paradox.” The challenge is a welcome one. Although I will argue that the Kripke-Wittgenstein paradox is not a problem for naturalists only, I will propose a naturalist solution to it. (Should the Kripke-Wittgenstein paradox prove to be soluble from a naturalist standpoint but intractable from other standpoints, that would, I suppose, constitute an argument for naturalism.) Then I will show that the paradox and its solution have an important consequence for the theories of meaning and truth. The Kripke-Wittgenstein arguments which pose the paradox also put in question Dummett’s and Putnam’s view of language understanding. From this view it follows that truth rules must be “verificationist rules” that assign assertability conditions to sentences, rather than “realist rules” that assign correspondence truth conditions. The proposed solution to the paradox suggests another view of language understanding, according to which a speaker can express, through his language practice, a grasp of correspondence truth rules.

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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Sarukkai, Sundar, , . What is science?
2012, National Book Trust, India.
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Added by: Laura Jimenez, Contributed by:

Summary: This book serves as an excellent introduction to Indian philosophy from the standpoint of the Nyãya-Vaisesika worldview. The book is divided into six chapters: (i) Introduction; (ii) Doubt (including sections like “Types of Doubt” and “Limits of Doubt”); (iii) Indian Logic (in which Dignaga, Dharmakïrti, and a “Summary of Themes in Indian Logic Relevant to Philosophy of Science” are discussed); (iv) Logic in Science: The Western Way (dealing, among other things, with induction, deduction, and laws and counterfactuals); (v) Science in Logic: The Indian Way? ; and (vi) Knowledge, Truth and Language (including sections with titles like the Pramäna Theory, Truth in Western and Indian Philosophies and Science, Effability, and Bhartrhai).

Comment: The book is recommendable, not only as an introduction to significant and basic themes in Indian philosophy, but also for insightful details in explaining several complex ideas in science and philosophy and for a clear explication of the Indian contribution to discussions on them. Could be suitable for both undergratuates and postgraduates.

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