Lepore and Ludwig on ‘explicit meaning theories’


The fundamental problem proponents of truth conditional semantics must face is to specify what role a truth theory is supposed to play within a meaning theory. The most detailed proposal for tackling this problem is the account developed by Ernest Lepore and Kirk Ludwig. However, as I will show in this paper, theories along the lines of Lepore and Ludwig do not suffice to put someone into the position to understand the objectlanguage. The fundamental problem of truth conditional semantics thus remains unsolved.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. 1.

    Lepore & Ludwig (2005), (2006), (2007), (2011), Ludwig (2002).

  2. 2.

    At least within the context of Davidsonian semantics, this conception is clearly central; cp. Davidson (1973, p. 125; 1976, p. 171; 1977, p. 215; 1990, p. 312).

  3. 3.

    This corresponds to Davidson’s use of ‘knowing a theory’; cp. Davidson (1976, p. 175).

  4. 4.

    Cp. Larson and Segal (1995, 40 FN), Kölbel (2001; 2002, p. 77), Ludwig (2002, p. 159).

  5. 5.

    Larson and Segal (1995, p. 34).

  6. 6.

    E.g. Foster (1976), Soames (1992, 2008), Ludwig (2002).

  7. 7.

    E.g. Davidson (1990, p. 312), Heim and Kratzer (1998, p. 1).

  8. 8.

    Davidson (1976, p. 174f.).

  9. 9.

    See e.g. Soames (2008).

  10. 10.

    Higginbotham (1992).

  11. 11.

    Again, see Soames (2008).

  12. 12.

    In various places, L&L present versions of their proposal that differ somewhat from each other. I will concentrate on their 2007 monograph, which includes the most comprehensive presentation of their approach; see e.g. Lepore and Ludwig (2007, p. 90).


  1. Davidson, D. (1973). Radical interpretation. Inquiries into truth and interpretation (2nd ed., pp. 125–139). Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  2. Davidson, D. (1976). Reply to Foster. Inquiries into truth and interpretation (2nd ed., pp. 171–179). Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  3. Davidson, D. (1977). Reality without reference. Inquiries into truth and interpretation (2nd ed., pp. 215–225). Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  4. Davidson, D. (1990). The structure and content of truth. The Journal of Philosophy, 87, 279–328.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Foster, J. (1976). Meaning and truth-theory. In G. Evans & J. McDowell, J. (Eds.), Truth and meaning: Essays in semantics (pp. 1–32). Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  6. Heim, I., & Kratzer, A. (1998). Semantics in generative grammar. Oxford: Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Higginbotham, J. (1992). Truth and understanding. Philosophical Studies, 65, 3–16.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Kölbel, M. (2001). Two dogmas of Davidsonian semantics. Journal of Philosophy, 98, 613–635.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Kölbel, M. (2002). Truth without objectivity. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Larson, R., & Segal, G. (1995). Knowledge of meaning. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Lepore, E., & Ludwig, K. (2005). Donald Davidson: Meaning, truth, language, and reality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  12. Lepore, E., & Ludwig, K. (2006). Ontology in the theory of meaning. International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 14, 325–335.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Lepore, E., & Ludwig, K. (2007). Donald Davidson’s truth-theoretic semantics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  14. Lepore, E., & Ludwig, K. (2011). Truth and meaning redux. Philosophical Studies, 154, 251–277.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Ludwig, K. (2002). What is the role of a truth-theory in a meaning-theory? In J. K. Campbell, et al. (Eds.), Meaning and truth: Investigations in philosophical semantics (pp. 142–163). New York: Seven Bridges Press.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Soames, S. (1992). Truth, meaning, and understanding. Philosophical Studies, 65, 17–35.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Soames, S. (2008). Truth and meaning in perspective. Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 32, 1–19.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


For discussion and helpful comments I would like to thank Lars Dänzer, Nick Haverkamp, Kirk Ludwig, Benjamin Schnieder, Moritz Schulz, Alex Steinberg, and an anonymous referee.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Miguel Hoeltje.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Hoeltje, M. Lepore and Ludwig on ‘explicit meaning theories’. Philos Stud 165, 831–839 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11098-012-9977-5

Download citation


  • Donald Davidson
  • Truth-theoretic semantics
  • Meaning
  • Meaning theories
  • Ernest Lepore
  • Kirk Ludwig