Truth and Merit

Charles Travis

in The Philosophy of J. L. Austin

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199219759
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191730818 | DOI:
Truth and Merit

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This chapter investigates Austin’s conception of truth, comparing it with Frege’s. Of central importance is the relation between the conceptual and the non‐conceptual, and, in particular, how to understand the generality that characterizes the conceptual. Frege thinks of it in terms of a function mapping objects onto truth‐values, such that once the function is determined it will not be left open how to apply it in a particular case. Austin rejects the very idea of such determinacy. For him, a concept does determine something, but what it determines leaves its application in particular cases negotiable. Still, he retains many of Frege’s central insights, such as the indefinability of truth, the shareability of content, and the notion of a fundamental distinction between the generality of the conceptual and particularity of the non‐conceptual. Frege’s and Austin’s views might even be fully reconcilable, given the different purposes for which they were proposed.

Keywords: J. L. Austin; Gottlob Frege; truth; conceptual; generality; content

Chapter.  17927 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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