Chapter

In Defence of Convention T

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/10.1093/0199246297.003.0005

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

 In Defence of Convention T

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As in Essay 4, Davidson rehearses the demands for an acceptable theory of meaning, and stresses the demand that the stock of concepts used by metalanguage in which the truth theory is stated extends minimally beyond, and ideally includes, that of the object language. He explains how this demand to keep technical machinery at a minimum is congenial to Tarksi's Convention T and his own favoured restriction to first‐order quantification. He then looks at how alternative approaches to semantics fare under this constraint and concludes that the prospects of those employing modal logics, possible world semantics, or substitutional quantification are accordingly dim. In specific, those programmes rely on relativized notions of truth, such as truth on a model, at the expense of leaving the absolute concept of truth undefined; yet it is this absolute concept we naturally apply to sentences and require when specifying their truth conditions or meanings.

Keywords: absolute truth; Convention T; formal semantics; modal logics; possible world semantics; relativized truth; substitutional quantification; Tarksi

Chapter.  4616 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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