4 In and out of Quotation Marks

The conceptions of truth to be discussed in this chapter assume that truth is a property of sentences (see Question 8 on the flow chart 1), of utterances or tokens of declarative sentences, or of types of such tokens. As announced in Chapter 1 , I shall leave Davidson's Sentential Primitivism aside, i.e. the view that the concept of (sentential) truth is bound to resist any attempt at an explanation (Question 9). Can one finitely state what sentential truth is (Question 10)? Alfred Tarski's work on the Semantic Conception of Truth appears to give an affirmative answer to this question, and because of this appearance, it is (tentatively) registered under the right branch of Question 10. Tarski offered a Criterion of Material Adequacy for any account of sentential truth, and this criterion has been a, if not the, source of inspiration for disquotationalism, the entry under the left branch of Question 10.


4.1 The Semantic Conception

Many claims and counter-claims have been made on behalf of Tarskian truth-definitions that have little to do with Tarski's original intentions. Indeed, it is unclear whether his own later estimation of the significance of such a truth-definition did not diverge considerably from his original intentions.

(Michael Dummett, 'The Source of the Concept of Truth', 197)

In the philosophical, as distinct from the mathematical, community reactions to Tarski's work on truth differ wildly. Carnap hailed it as a liberating step forward in philosophy and gratefully acknowledged that his own approach to semantics 'owes very much to Tarski, more indeed than to any other single influence'. 2 But not all Logical Empiricists shared Carnap's enthusiasm. When

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