Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Title

Problems With Truth: Scope, Mixing, and Truth Pluralism

Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

M.A. in Philosophy

First Advisor

Robert Barnard

Second Advisor

Steven Skultety

Third Advisor

Neil Manson

Abstract

In this paper, I will be taking up the debate between monistic and pluralistic inflationary theories of truth. Truth monism claims that there is one explanatory story which accounts for the truth of all and only true propositions. There seem to be, however, certain domains of discourse wherein monistic theories fail. If monistic theories cannot provide an explanation for how all true propositions are true, then they would not be adequate theories of truth. Truth pluralism is motivated to avoid the scope problem. The pluralist sees that there are as many truth properties as there are domains of discourse. A true proposition about objects in the physical world will be true because of a truth property belonging to objects in the physical world. A true proposition about funny jokes will be true because of a truth property pertaining to funny jokes. The nature of truth is variant across discourses, but there is no domain in which a pluralistic truth theory cannot provide an explanation for the truth of true propositions. The scope problem is thus avoided. But truth pluralism encounters a new problem, one of its own creation. If two or more pluralistically true propositions stand as premises and conclusion in a valid argument, in what way is the inference true? Logic preserves truth between propositions, but in cases where the truth to be preserved is heterogeneous, it is unclear as to what the truth property would be. This is the (logical) mixing problem, and it appears to be as intractable as the scope problem. I argue that the debate between truth pluralists and monists reduces to the choice of accepting the epistemic consequences of the scope problem or accepting the logical consequences of the mixing problem. The scope problem assumes truth monism, but also a specific epistemological view about the conditions for using the truth predicate. The mixing problem entails that we revise logic in some way.

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