Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

A Realist Conception of Truth

Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

A Realist Conception of Truth

Article excerpt

ALSTON, William P. A Realist Conception of Truth. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996. xii + 274 pp. Cloth, $42.50; paper, $17.95--Alston's two overarching theses are that "the realist conception of truth is the right way to think of truth in the sense of `true' in which it applies to beliefs, statements, and propositions" and that "truth is important" (p. 1). Seven out of eight chapters go toward establishing the first thesis, and that task has a constructive side and a critical side.

The constructive side consists in settling on propositions as the proper bearers of truth-value and formulating alethic realism. Alston considers a proposition to be that which uniquely determines the content of beliefs and illocutionary acts, he requires only that they be the specifiers of that-clauses. With this notion of proposition in mind, Alston formulates the T-schema: "(p) The proposition that p is true if p" (p. 28). The T-schema is supposed to provide us with a mechanism whereby we grasp what truth is, and we are to grasp what truth is by seeing that any substitution instance of the T-schema is "analytically, ""conceptually true" (p. 27). Anyone who sees that an instance of the T-schema is true possesses the realist conception of truth. The T-schema is a minimal but nondeflationary account of truth. It is minimal in that Alston goes no further into the nature of truth, for example, the nature of correspondence, and nondeflationary in that he is committed to a property of truth. Furthermore, the T-schema is metaphysically neutral: it has no implications for what the metaphysical truths are, so that one could consistently hold the T-schema along with virtually any metaphysical position. Now since he holds that the T-schema is a conceptual, necessary truth, Alston believes that if he can show rival conceptions of truth to be faulty, then the realistic conception has won the field.

So begins the critical side to establishing the first overarching thesis. …

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