Introduction

The aim of this book is to illuminate the notion of truth and the role it plays in our ordinary thought, as well as in our logical, philosophical, and scientific theories. The main questions to be investigated include "Why do we need a truth predicate at all?," "What theoretical tasks does it allow us to accomplish?," and "How must we understand the content of any predicate capable of accomplishing these tasks?" The discussion of these questions is organized into three parts. Part I, which consists of chapters 1 and 2, addresses substantive background issues that bear directly on serious philosophical discussions of truth: the identification of the bearers of truth; the basis for distinguishing truth from other notions, like certainty, with which it is often confused; and the formulation of positive responses to well-known forms of philosophical skepticism about truth. Part II, which consists of chapters 3-6, explicates the formal theories of Alfred Tarski and Saul Kripke, including their treatments of the Liar paradox, and evaluates the philosophical significance of their work. Part III, consisting of chapters 7 and 8, extends important lessons drawn from Tarski and Kripke to new domains: vague predicates, the Sorites paradox, and the development of a larger, deflationary perspective on truth.

The end result does not fit neatly into familiar preexisting categories. The book is not a survey of formal work on truth, a critique of informal philosophical speculation on the subject, a textbook on leading approaches, or a fundamentally new

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Understanding Truth
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents xi
  • Introduction 3
  • Part I Foundational Issues 11
  • One: Truth Bearers 13
  • Two: Forms of Truth Skepticism 20
  • Part 11 Two Theories of Truth 65
  • Three: Tarski's Definition of Truth 67
  • Four: The Significance of Tarski's Theory of Truth 98
  • Five: Lessons of the Liar 148
  • Six: Truth, Paradox, and Partially Defined Predicates 163
  • Part III Extensions 201
  • Seven: Vagueness, Partiality, and the Sorites Paradox 203
  • Eight What is Truth? - The Deflationary Perspective 228
  • Index 263
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