Paul Horwich

Second edition

Published in print December 1998 | ISBN: 9780198752233
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597732 | DOI:

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This book presents a deflationary perspective called ‘minimalism’—a reaction against the traditional and widespread idea that the property of truth has some sort of underlying nature and that our problem as philosophers is to say what that nature is, to analyse truth either conceptually or substantively, to specify, at least roughly, the conditions necessary and sufficient for something to be true. In contrast, minimalism makes three correlated claims. First, the function of our concept of truth is merely to permit the formulation of certain generalizations (e.g. we are able to say ‘Every instance of “p→p” is true’, but without such a concept it is unclear how one might articulate the logical law whose instances are ‘dogs bark → dogs bark’, ‘Killing is wrong → killing is wrong’, etc.). Second, the meaning of the word ‘true’ derives, not from any explicit definition of the familiar kind, but rather from the fact that we are disposed to infer ‘It is true that ‘p’ from ‘p’, and vice versa. Third, such a mundane logical notion cannot play the fundamental role in philosophical theorizing to which it is often assigned within debates surrounding the nature of meaning, vagueness, normativity, reality, etc. Thus minimalism has ramifications throughout the subject. The book begins by articulating these claims and proceeds to refine and defend them in the course of responding to 39 potential objections (which are set out in the Contents).

Keywords: definition; deflationary; function; generalization; Horwich; meaning; minimalism; normativity; reality; truth; vagueness

Book.  176 pages. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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