John MacFarlane defends a radical form of truth relativism that makes the truth of assertions relative not only to contexts of utterance but also to contexts of assessment, or perspectives. Making sense of assessment-sensitive truth is a matter of making sense of the normative commitments undertaken by speakers in using assessment sensitive sentences. This paper argues against the possibility of making sense of such a practice. Evans raised a challenge to the coherence of relative truth. A modification of the challenge can be given against MacFarlane’s revised views on assertion. The main objection to the relativist is that rational and earnest speakers are not bound by assessment-relative standards of correctness.
KeywordsRelativism Assertion Commitments Correctness conditions John MacFarlane Gareth Evans
Thanks to Manuel García-Carpintero, Sven Rosenkranz, Pedro Santos and Dan Zeman for helpful discussion and feedback on previous versions of this material. Thanks also to an anonymous referee for this journal for very helpful comments and suggestions. The research for this paper was supported by projects Contextualism, Relativism and Practical Conflicts and Disagreement, EuroUnders/0001/2010 (part of the collaborative research project Communication in Contex: of the ESF EUROCORES EuroUnderstanding programme) and Online Companion to Problems of Analytic Philosophy, PTDC/FIL-FIL/121209/2010 (both funded by FCT); The Nature of Assertion: Consequences for Relativism and Fictionalism Code: FFI2010-16049, and PERSP—Philosophy of Perspectival Thouths and Facts, Code: CSD2009-00056 (Spain), and by the AGAUR of the Generalitat de Catalunya (2009SGR-1077).
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