redundancy theory of truth

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Frank Plumpton Ramsey (1903—1930) mathematician and philosopher

Gottlob Frege (1848—1925) German philosopher and mathematician, founder of modern logic




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The theory also known as minimalism, or the deflationary view of truth, fathered by Frege and Ramsey. The essential claim is that the predicate ‘…is true’ does not have a sense, i.e. expresses no substantive or profound or explanatory concept that ought to be the topic of philosophical enquiry. The approach admits of different versions, but centres on the points (i) that ‘it is true that p’ says no more nor less than ‘p’ (hence, redundancy); (ii) that in less direct contexts, such as ‘everything he said was true’, or ‘all logical consequences of true propositions are true’, the predicate functions as a device enabling us to generalize rather than as an adjective or predicate describing the things he said, or the kinds of proposition that follow from true propositions. For example, the second may translate as ‘(∀p, q)(p & pqq)’ where there is no use of a notion of truth.

There are technical problems in interpreting all uses of the notion of truth in such ways, but they are not generally felt to be insurmountable. The approach needs to explain away apparently substantive uses of the notion, such as ‘science aims at the truth’ or ‘truth is a norm governing discourse’. Indeed, postmodernist writing frequently advocates that we must abandon such norms, along with a discredited ‘objective’ conception of truth. But perhaps we can have the norms even when objectivity is problematic, since they can be framed without mention of truth: science wants it to be so that whenever science holds that p, then p. Discourse is to be regulated by the principle that it is wrong to assert p, when not-p. See also disquotational theory of truth.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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