6 Two Pleas for Modesty

In Chapter 3.1.3 , I pointed out a difficulty that all theories of Object-based Correspondence from Aristotle to Bolzano share. This difficulty arises from a Procrustean structural presumption concerning truth-value bearers, the presumption that all truth-candidates ascribe a property to one or several objects. One can try to avoid this difficulty by applying the Tarskian strategy of recursion. But this strategy applies only to those complex truth-candidates whose truth-values are determined by the truth-values of their constituents, and there are long-standing questions as to whether every truth-candidate has such a structure. So one should rather try to avoid the difficulty by explaining the concept of truth in such a way that the internal structure of the truth-value bearers is left entirely open. This is the way the difficulty is avoided by nihilists, since they try to explain this concept without assuming that there are any truth-value bearers at all (Ch. 2.2), and, less ironically, by theorists of Fact-based Correspondence of the prodigal variety (Ch. 3.2.1) and by disquotationalists (Ch. 4.2). The two views of truth which form the topic of the present chapter both take truth to be a property of propositions (see Question 11 1). Like the theories just mentioned, they put no constraints on the internal structure of truth-candidates, but arguably they do not run foul of the problems that plague those theories. By taking the concept of truth not to be explanation-resistant, they oppose Propositional Primitivism, the position of Frege, on the one hand, and early Moore and Russell on the other, which I sketched out in my first chapter only to set it aside (see Question 13). I shall start with an exposition and discussion of Paul Horwich's Minimalism, registered under the left branch of Question 14. Most of the time, however, I shall be occupied with propounding and defending its opposite number, the conception of truth that I call the Modest Account. Note that the notion of a property which is used in both accounts is the liberal one I explained in Chapter 2.2 : properties are ascribables, which can be

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Conceptions of Truth
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Conceptions of Truth iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • 1: Some Questions About Truth 1
  • 2: A Bogus Predicate? 33
  • 3: Varieties of Correspondence 93
  • 4: In and Out of Quotation Marks 175
  • 5: Propositions, Time, and Eternity 249
  • 6: Two Pleas for Modesty 317
  • 7: Truth and Justifiability 375
  • Bibliography 455
  • Name Index 481
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