Chapter

True to the Facts

Donald Davidson

in Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation

Published in print September 2001 | ISBN: 9780199246298
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191715181 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199246297.003.0003

Series: The Philosophical Essays of Donald Davidson (5 Volumes)

 True to the Facts

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Davidson explores whether the semantic concept of truth utilized in Essay 2 (i.e. a theory of truth recursively defined on satisfaction) can be developed into a ‘correspondence’ theory of truth, i.e. into a theory that explains the property of being true ‘by a relation between a statement and something else.’ He shows how reducing truth to either its disquotational function (the redundancy theory of truth associated with Ramsey) or to a notion of correspondence insensitive to more advanced semantic considerations both fail. In the former case, idioms such as ‘everything he said was true’ cannot be analysed without universally quantifying over propositions and defining truth for them recursively on satisfaction; in the latter case, the position of q in the sentential predicate ‘corresponds to the fact that q’ allows coextensive redescriptions to the effect of collapsing all q into one fact (the ‘One Great Fact’, as Davidson calls it). Davidson adds that traditional correspondence theories of the latter sort invariably suffer from assigning distinct entities, such as facts, to sentences as a whole (entities with which to compare sentences); whereas on his preferred theory, such assignments take place at the subsentential level via the apparatus of satisfaction and denotation ( Essay 15).

Keywords: correspondence theory of truth; facts; Ramsey; redundancy theory of truth; satisfaction (semantics); semantic theory of truth

Chapter.  7463 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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