, Volume 145, Issue 2, pp 297-310
Date: 08 Apr 2008

Why is a truth-predicate like a pronoun?

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Abstract

I begin with an exposition of the two main variants of the Prosentential Theory of Truth (PT), those of Dorothy Grover et al. and Robert Brandom. Three main types of criticisms are then put forward: (1) material criticisms to the effect that (PT) does not adequately explain the linguistic data, (2) an objection to the effect that no variant of (PT) gives a properly unified account of the various occurrences of “true” in English, and, most importantly, (3) a charge that the comparison with proforms is explanatorily idle. The last objection is that, given a complete semantic account of pronouns, proadjectives, antecedents, etc., together with a complete (PT), the essential semantic character of “true” could be deduced, but then, the idleness of the comparison with pronouns would be apparent. It turns out that objections (2) and (3) are related in the following way: the prosentential terminology is held to conceal the lack of unity in (PT), by describing the different data in the same terms (“proform”, “antecedent”, etc.). But this, I argue, is only a way of truly describing, rather than explaining, the data, these being certain relations of equivalence and consequence between sentences. I consider a language for which (PT) would be not only true, but also explanatory, but note that this language is very different from English. I end by showing that Robert Brandom’s case that “is true” is not a predicate fails, and that his motivation for saying so is based on fallacious reasoning (namely, Boghossian’s argument against deflationism).