Chapter

Expression, Truth, and Reality: Some Variations on Themes from Wright

Dorit Bar-On

in Mind, Meaning, and Knowledge

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199278053
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745386 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199278053.003.0007
Expression, Truth, and Reality: Some Variations on Themes from Wright

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In several writings, Crispin Wright lists expressivism among the chief ‘anti-realist paradigms’, and an unsuccessful one at that. The success of expressivism at avoiding unwanted ontological commitments is purchased at the cost of denying that the relevant discourses ‘deal in truth-evaluable contents’. Yet Wright thinks that these discourses do possess truth-evaluability, since they exhibit all the ‘assertoric trappings’, which, on Wright’s minimalist conception, suffice for truth-aptitude and truth. The alliance standardly assumed to exist between expressivism, on the one hand, and the denial of truth-evaluability, as well as anti-realism, on the other, is unfortunate, though historically understandable. Following the neo-expressivist treatment of avowals in Bar-On (2004), this chapter explores the possibility of decoupling the core expressivist idea from the denial of truth-evaluability, and breaking its apparently necessary link to anti-realism. The result presents a viable option in various areas where philosophers have been drawn to expressivism — one which Wright himself may welcome.

Keywords: expressivism; anti-realism; minimalism; truth-evaluability; truth; neo-expressivism; avowals

Chapter.  16105 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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