Ideas from 'Truth' by Pascal Engel [2002], by Theme Structure

[found in 'Truth' by Engel,Pascal [Acumen 2002,1-902683-58-7]].

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1. Philosophy / F. Analytic Philosophy / 3. Analysis of Preconditions
In "if and only if" (iff), "if" expresses the sufficient condition, and "only if" the necessary condition
                        Full Idea: Necessary and sufficient conditions are usually expressed by "if and only if" (abbr. "iff"), where "if" is the sufficient condition, and "only if" is the necessary condition.
                        From: Pascal Engel (Truth [2002], §1.1)
                        A reaction: 'I take my umbrella if and only if it is raining' (oh, and if I'm still alive). There may be other necessary conditions than the one specified. Oh, and I take it if my wife slips it into my car…
3. Truth / A. Truth Problems / 5. Truth Bearers
Are truth-bearers propositions, or ideas/beliefs, or sentences/utterances?
                        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'
                        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
                        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
                        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
                        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
                        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
                        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
                        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.
5. Theory of Logic / D. Assumptions for Logic / 1. Bivalence
Deflationism must reduce bivalence ('p is true or false') to excluded middle ('p or not-p')
                        Full Idea: It is said that deflationism cannot even formulate the principle of bivalence, for 'either p is true or p is false' will amount to the principle of excluded middle, 'either p or not-p'.
                        From: Pascal Engel (Truth [2002], §2.4)
                        A reaction: Presumably deflationists don't lost any sleep over this - in fact, it looks like a good concise way to state the deflationist thesis. However, excluded middle refers to a proposition (not-p) that was never mentioned by bivalence. Cf Idea 6163.
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 4. Belief / a. Beliefs
The Humean theory of motivation is that beliefs may be motivators as well as desires
                        Full Idea: A problem for the Humean theory of motivation is that it is disputed that beliefs are only representational states, which cannot, unlike desires, move us to act.
                        From: Pascal Engel (Truth [2002], §4.2)
                        A reaction: This is a crucial issue for Humeans and empiricists. Rationalists claim that people act for reasons, so that reasons are intrinsically motivational (like the Form of the Good), and reasons may even be considered direct causes of actions.
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 4. Belief / c. Aim of beliefs
Our beliefs are meant to fit the world (i.e. be true), where we want the world to fit our desires
                        Full Idea: Belief is said to 'aim at truth', in the sense that beliefs are the kind of mental states that have to be true for the mind to 'fit' the world (where our desires have the opposite 'direction of fit'; the world is supposed to fit our desires).
                        From: Pascal Engel (Truth [2002], §2.5)
                        A reaction: I don't think it is possible to give a plausible definition of belief without mentioning truth. Hume's account of them as thoughts with a funny feeling attached is ridiculous. Thinking is an activity, not a passive state.
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 4. Belief / d. Cause of beliefs
'Evidentialists' say, and 'voluntarists' deny, that we only believe on the basis of evidence
                        Full Idea: The 'evidentialists' (such as Locke and Hume) deny, and the 'voluntarists' (such as William James) affirm, that we ought to, or at least may, believe for other reasons than evidential epistemic reasons (e.g. for pragmatic reasons).
                        From: Pascal Engel (Truth [2002], §5.2)
                        A reaction: No need to be black-or-white here. Blatant evidence compels belief, but we may also come to believe by spotting a coherence, without additional evidence. We can also be in a state of trying to believe something. But see 4764.
12. Knowledge Sources / D. Empiricism / 3. Pragmatism
Pragmatism is better understood as a theory of belief than as a theory of truth
                        Full Idea: Pragmatism in general is better construed as a certain conception of belief, rather than as a distinctive conception of truth.
                        From: Pascal Engel (Truth [2002], §1.5)
                        A reaction: Which is why aspiring relativists drift towards the pragmatic theory - because they want to dispense with truth (and hence knowledge), and put mere belief in its place.
13. Knowledge Criteria / C. External Justification / 5. Controlling Beliefs
We cannot directly control our beliefs, but we can control the causes of our involuntary beliefs
                        Full Idea: Direct psychological voluntarism about beliefs seems to be false, but we can have an indirect voluntary control on many of our beliefs, by manipulating the states in us that are involuntary and which lead to certain beliefs.
                        From: Pascal Engel (Truth [2002], §5.2)
                        A reaction: Very nice! This points two ways - to scientific experiments, which can have compelling outcomes (see Fodor), and to brain-washing, and especially auto-brainwashing (only reading articles which support your favourites theories). What magazines do you take?
17. Mind and Body / C. Functionalism / 1. Functionalism
Mental states as functions are second-order properties, realised by first-order physical properties
                        Full Idea: For functionalism mental states as roles are second-order properties that have to be realised in various ways in first-order physical properties.
                        From: Pascal Engel (Truth [2002], §3.3)
                        A reaction: I take that to be properties-of-properties, as in 'bright red' or 'poignantly beautiful'. I am inclined to think (with Edelman) that mind is a process, not a property.