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The Tarskian Turn

Deflationism and Axiomatic Truth

Leon Horsten

Publication Year: 2011

A philosopher proposes a new deflationist view of truth, based on contemporary proof-theoretic approaches.

Published by: The MIT Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-ix

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pp. xi-xii

Deflationism is a doctrine about the role of the concept of truth in philosophy as a whole. This makes the doctrine relevant to analytic philosophers from all subdisciplines of philosophy. Deflationism about truth comes in many varieties. These are usually articulated against the background of formal...

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1. About This Book

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pp. 1-10

Horwich’s book Truth first appeared in 1990. It established deflationism about truth as a central subject of philosophical investigation. In the first decade after the appearance of this book, deflationism was mostly associated with an axiomatic theory of truth that is known as the disquotational theory. This theory has its origins in Tarski’s work: It is the earliest...

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2. Axiomatic Theories of Truth

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pp. 11-26

In this chapter, contemporary theories of truth will first be distinguished from more traditional, substantial truth theories. Subsequently, a distinction is drawn, within contemporary theories, between semantic and axiomatic approaches. It will be argued that the axiomatic approach ought to be preferred over the semantic approach. Thus we will...

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3. On the Shoulders of Giants

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pp. 27-45

Our first results concerning axiomatic truth theories are of a negative nature. Gödel proved that no sufficiently strong, consistent mathematical theory proves its own consistency. Using Gödel’s techniques, Tarski’s theorem can be proved. This theorem says that no sufficiently expressive language can define its own truth predicate...

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4. The Disquotational Theory

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pp. 47-58

Tarski wanted to define truth. He saw that truth could not be defined in the object language: It has to be done in an essentially stronger metalanguage. In his definition, Tarski assigned a pivotal role to the Tarski-biconditionals. Nowadays, many a deflationist philosopher takes a suitable class of Tarski-biconditionals as the axioms of her theory...

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5. Deflationism

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pp. 59-67

Deflationism is the most popular philosophical view of truth these days. Many philosophers believe that the view is essentially correct. But there is surprisingly little agreement on what the view is committed to. This is to some extent due to the fact that just as mechanism is not really a physical theory, deflationism is not a theory of the laws of truth...

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6. The Compositional Theory

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pp. 69-78

In this chapter,we investigate a second axiomatic theory that is directly inspired by Tarski’s work on truth. Tarski’s definition of truth in a model inspires an axiomatic theory of truth that explicates the compositional nature of truth. We see that the compositional theory has several advantages when compared with the disquotational...

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7. Conservativeness and Deflationism

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pp. 79-101

In this chapter,we explore the relation between deflationism and the arithmetical nonconservativeness of the compositional theory of truth. In this context, we also describe the role that the concept of truth plays in specific philosophical disciplines such as epistemology, philosophy of language, and metaphysics...

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8. Maximizing Classical Compositionality

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pp. 103-115

We now investigate to what extent Tarski’s compositional theory of truth can be consistently extended. In particular, we look at a theory of truth that was formulated by Harvey Friedman and Michael Sheard, and we discuss its relation with the revision theory of truth...

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9. Kripke’s Theory Axiomatized

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pp. 117-139

Kripke formulated what is currently probably the most influential semantical theory of truth [Kripke 1975]. In this chapter, we see that, like Tarski’s semantical notion of a (classical) model, Kripke’s semantical theory has been a rich source of inspiration for proof-theoretic approaches to truth. Some of our strongest and best axiomatic theories of truth result from attempts to axiomatize...

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10. Truth and Philosophy

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pp. 141-152

In this final chapter, we reflect on the relationship between the concept of truth and philosophy. We have seen that there are sound theories of truth that are considerably stronger even than the typed compositional theory of truth. First, we want to know what becomes of deflationism in the light of the existence of proof-theoretically strong truth theories...


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pp. 153-157


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pp. 159-160

Author Index

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pp. 161-162

Subject Index

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pp. 163-165

E-ISBN-13: 9780262298643
E-ISBN-10: 0262298643
Print-ISBN-13: 9780262015868
Print-ISBN-10: 0262015862

Page Count: 178
Publication Year: 2011