Truth

Truth

Truth

Truth

Synopsis

This is a concise, advanced introduction to current philosophical debates about truth. A blend of philosophical and technical material, the book is organized around, but not limited to, the tendency known as deflationism, according to which there is not much to say about the nature of truth. In clear language, Burgess and Burgess cover a wide range of issues, including the nature of truth, the status of truth-value gaps, the relationship between truth and meaning, relativism and pluralism about truth, and semantic paradoxes from Alfred Tarski to Saul Kripke and beyond. Following a brief introduction that reviews the most influential traditional and contemporary theories of truth, short chapters cover Tarski, deflationism, indeterminacy, realism, antirealism, Kripke, and the possible insolubility of semantic paradoxes. The book provides a rich picture of contemporary philosophical theorizing about truth, one that will be essential reading for philosophy students as well as philosophers specializing in other areas.

Excerpt

This volume is, in accordance with the aims of the series in which it appears, a somewhat opinionated introductory survey of its subject, at a level suitable for advanced undergraduate or beginning graduate students of philosophy, or the general reader with some philosophical background. the subject is truth, and more specifically, what it is for something to be true, with special emphasis on the question whether there is anything interesting all truths have in common, besides their all being true.

We set aside the postmodernist answer, “All truths are enforced by the hegemonic structures of society,” on the grounds that it confuses somethings passing for true in a given society with its actually being true, overlooking the question, “What is something that passes for true in a given society passing for?.” Questions about what passes for true but isn’t, and how it is able to do so, are needless to say of great importance, but writers addressing them have not been lacking.

We also leave to others the question of “the value of truth,” at least insofar as it is a question of intrinsic value, not just practical utility. the important issues that have been extensively discussed under this heading seem to us really about the intrinsic value, not so much of truth itself, as of something else related to it: of discovering the truth, or of speaking the truth. That one should value knowledge and honesty, rather than contenting oneself with what Harry Frankfurt calls bullshit, we take for granted without comment, and we take for granted that the reader takes it for granted, too.

The issues about truth that remain, the ones we do address, have in recent years been made the subject of dozens of monographs and anthologies, as well as scores of journal articles not yet anthologized. Any survey of this large volume of material will inevitably give more attention to some parts of it than others, with more than a few subtopics getting merely a passing mention (plus references to further literature for the interested reader). Though other authors would doubtless make different judgments about . . .

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