Combining Philosophers

Ideas for Michael Burke, Pascal Engel and Charles Parsons

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8 ideas

3. Truth / A. Truth Problems / 5. Truth Bearers
Are truth-bearers propositions, or ideas/beliefs, or sentences/utterances? [Engel]
     Full Idea: The tradition of the Stoics and Frege says that truth-bearers are propositions, Descartes and the classical empiricist say they are ideas or beliefs, and Ockham and Quine say they are sentences or utterances.
     From: Pascal Engel (Truth [2002], 1.1)
     A reaction: I'm with propositions, which are unambiguous, can be expressed in a variety of ways, embody the 'logical form' of sentences, and could be physically embodied in brains (the language of thought?).
3. Truth / C. Correspondence Truth / 2. Correspondence to Facts
The redundancy theory gets rid of facts, for 'it is a fact that p' just means 'p' [Engel]
     Full Idea: The redundancy theory gets rid of facts, for 'it is a fact that p' just means 'p'.
     From: Pascal Engel (Truth [2002], 2.2)
     A reaction: But then when you ask what p means, you have to give the truth-conditions for its assertion, and you find you have to mention the facts after all.
3. Truth / C. Correspondence Truth / 3. Correspondence Truth critique
We can't explain the corresponding structure of the world except by referring to our thoughts [Engel]
     Full Idea: The correspondence theory implies displaying an identity or similarity of structure between the contents of thoughts and the way the world is structured, but we seem only to be able to say that the world's structure corresponds to our thoughts.
     From: Pascal Engel (Truth [2002], 1.2)
     A reaction: I don't accept this. The structure of the world gives rise to our thoughts. There is an epistemological problem here (big time!), but that doesn't alter the metaphysical situation of what truth is supposed to be, which is correspondence.
3. Truth / D. Coherence Truth / 1. Coherence Truth
The coherence theory says truth is an internal relationship between groups of truth-bearers [Engel]
     Full Idea: The coherence theory of truth says that it is a relationship between truth-bearers themselves, that is between propositions or beliefs or sentences.
     From: Pascal Engel (Truth [2002], 1.1)
     A reaction: We immediately begin to wonder how many truth-bearers are required. Two lies can be coherent. It is hard to make thousands of lies coherent, but not impossible. What fixes the critical number. 'All possible propositions' is not much help.
3. Truth / D. Coherence Truth / 2. Coherence Truth Critique
Any coherent set of beliefs can be made more coherent by adding some false beliefs [Engel]
     Full Idea: Any coherent set of beliefs can be made more coherent by adding to it one or more false beliefs.
     From: Pascal Engel (Truth [2002], 1.3)
     A reaction: A simple but rather devastating point. It is the policeman manufacturing a bogus piece of evidence to clinch the conviction, the scientist faking a single observation to fill in the last corner of a promising theory.
3. Truth / H. Deflationary Truth / 2. Deflationary Truth
Deflationism seems to block philosophers' main occupation, asking metatheoretical questions [Engel]
     Full Idea: Deflationism about truth seems to deprive us of any hope of asking genuinely metatheoretical questions, which are the questions that occupy philosophers most of the time.
     From: Pascal Engel (Truth [2002], 2.5)
     A reaction: This seems like the best reason for moving from deflationism to at least minimalism. Clearly one can talk meaningfully about the success of assertions and theories. You can say a sentence is true, but not assert it.
Deflationism cannot explain why we hold beliefs for reasons [Engel]
     Full Idea: The deflationist view is silent about the fact that our assertions and beliefs are generally made or held for certain reasons.
     From: Pascal Engel (Truth [2002], 2.5)
     A reaction: The point here must be that I attribute strength to my beliefs, depending on how much support I have for them - how much support for their real truth. I scream "That's really TRUE!" when I have very good reasons.
3. Truth / H. Deflationary Truth / 3. Minimalist Truth
Maybe there is no more to be said about 'true' than there is about the function of 'and' in logic [Engel]
     Full Idea: We could compare the status of 'true' with the status of the logical operator 'and' in logic. Once we have explained how it functions to conjoin two propositions, there is not much more to be said about it.
     From: Pascal Engel (Truth [2002], 2.4)
     A reaction: A good statement of the minimalist view. I don't believe it, because I don't believe that truth is confined to language. An uneasy feeling I can't put into words can turn out to be true. Truth is a relational feature of mental states.