Workshop on Truth, Definability and Quantification into Sentence Position

September 27, 2024 - September 28, 2024
Department of Philosophy, University of Vienna


This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities

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Australian Catholic University
New York University
University of Bristol
University of Toronto, St. George Campus


University of Vienna
University of Vienna
University of Vienna

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Can truth be defined? Frege argued that it couldn't. Ramsey argued that defining it would be easy if only we had an analysis of judgement. Today Horwich claims that truth cannot be defined explicitly because doing so would require quantification into sentence position and such quantification is not coherent. Instead he proposes a “minimal theory” of truth, which comprises all the unproblematic instances of the equivalence schema. Künne, by contrast, argues that quantification into sentence position is coherent and may actually be part of some natural languages. Künne uses such quantification to define truth explicitly:
∀x (x is true iff ∃p ((x is the proposition that p) & p)). Or in English: a representation (belief, assertion etc) is true just if things are as it represents them as being. Künne claims also to find this definition in Frank Ramsey’s posthumous work, which, as an exegetical claim, is not uncontroversial.

Is truth definable? Is propositional quantification coherent? Do natural languages involve propositional quantification, and in what sense? What do the answers to these questions mean for philosophical attempts to define or explain truth? Is truth redundant if explicitly definable? Not redundant if not explicitly definable?

This workshop is supported by the FWF Cluster of Excellence project "Knowledge in Crisis", the FWF project "Truth is Grounded in Facts" and the University of Vienna.

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September 13, 2024, 9:00am CET

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