Chapter

A truth predicate in the object language

William G. Lycan

in Donald Davidson on Truth, Meaning, and the Mental

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199697519
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191742316 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199697519.003.0006
A truth predicate in the object language

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In “Truth and Meaning”, Davidson acknowledged that the Liar Paradox is a problem for his semantic program; but he did not seem to take it very seriously. This chapter joins Lepore and Ludwig in deploring that. They offer Davidson a way out, in a quite different way, by suggesting a “solution” to the Liar Paradox that is adequate to the facts of natural language, that is fairly simple, and that will make linguistic semantics safe from Tarski's famous argument, in the sense that it will keep truth definitions for particular natural languages from blowing up. (It is a linguist’s solution, not a logician’s. Nor is it intended to reveal anything conceptually deep.) The preferred approach is hierarchical, in the spirit of Tarski’s treatment of formal languages, but is shown to resist the usual objections to hierarchical approaches. Contra Tarski, there is a good and clear, if somewhat grotesque, sense in which a natural language can contain its own truth predicate without paradox.

Keywords: Davidsonian; theory of truth; semantics; Tarskian truth definition; semantic paradoxes; Liar Paradox; truth-theoretic semantic; natural language; Lepore–Ludwig’s interpretation

Chapter.  10864 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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