, Volume 160, Issue 3, pp 441-444
Date: 11 Sep 2011

Precis of When Truth Gives Out

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Mainstream accounts of meaning have either truth conditional semantics or the assignment of truth bearing propositions to sentences as their primary goal. When Truth Gives Out (WT, henceforth) argues that while giving truth conditions and assigning truth bearers to sentences and mental states plays a role in an account of meaning, important aspects of meaning are not explained in such terms. It argues further that when we invoke truth conditions or truth bearers in an account of meaning, we must employ a non-standard notion of truth, on which truth is relative to both a possible world and something contributed by human interests—a perspective, a set of standards for applying our concepts, or the like.

WT’s first three chapters look at some of the ways in which the performative aspects of our talk—what we do with our words—bear on whether and when our talk should or can be evaluated in terms of truth. Chapter 1 argues that talk involving racial slurs may be truth valueless as a result of