Analytical Philosophy - Vol. 1

By R. J. Butler | Go to book overview

PROPOSITIONS

R. CARTWRIGHT

1. WHAT is it that is susceptible of truth or falsity? In spite of the attention given to it, this question can hardly be said to have been settled. The answers suggested constitute a bewildering variety: sentences, utterances, ideas, beliefs, judgments, propositions, statements--each has had its advocates. Perhaps variation in terminology explains some of the apparent disagreement, but it does not explain it all. And the current fashion among logicians of taking sentences to be the bearers of truth and falsity indicates less an agreement on philosophical theory than a desire for rigour and smoothness in calculative practice. Thus there is ample reason for re-opening the issue.

2. Treatments of the question often proceed upon one or the other of two assumptions. Some assume that there is just one kind of thing susceptible of truth or falsity, that truths and falsehoods together comprise a single type or category of things; and accordingly we are sometimes told that it is only judgments or only utterances or only propositions that are, properly speaking, true or false. Others assume that there is some one category of things that are, in some sense, the 'ultimate' or 'primary' subjects of ascriptions of truth and falsity and that anything else which is true or false is so only 'derivatively' or 'secondarily'. Thus we are sometimes told that although beliefs and sentences may with propriety be said to be true (or false), their truth or falsity is 'derivative from' that of something else--propositions, perhaps, or statements; and to this it is added that only these latter are true 'in the primary way'. Perhaps it is unfair to speak of either of these as assumptions rather than as reasoned conclusions. The point need not be debated here. For I mention them only for the purpose of explaining that they are not presupposed by the question I wish to discuss. This explanation may be unnecessary in the case of the second; for perhaps we should not naturally take the question, 'What is it that is susceptible of truth or falsity?' to presuppose that things of some one kind are 'ultimately' true (or false). But the question is so worded that it might

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Analytical Philosophy - Vol. 1
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Symposium - Effects, Results and Consequences 1
  • Causation - J. R. Lucas 32
  • Counterfactuals and Causal Laws 66
  • Propositions 81
  • On Some Paradoxes 104
  • Nonentities 120
  • Some Remarks About the Senses 133
  • Symposium - Avowals 154
  • Non-Other Minds 187
  • Dreaming and 'Depth Grammar' 211
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