Prosententialism about Truth, from an Empirical Point of View
Joseph Ulatowski (University of Waikato)

October 18, 2021, 3:30pm - 5:30pm
Virtual International Consortium for Truth Research

United States


  • University of Waikato
  • University of Alabama
  • University of Connecticut Humanities Institute

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The Virtual International Consortium for Truth Research (VICTR) will have a talk by Joseph Ulatowski (University of Waikato), “Prosententialism about Truth, from an Empirical Point of View” on October 18, 3:30 pm EDT / 8:30 pm BST  /  8:30 am NZDT / 19:30 UTC

Abstract:The aim of this paper is to determine whether pre-theoretic intuitive judgments of non-philosophers are compatible with assumptions of the prosentential theory of truth. According to this theory, one may substitute a prosentence, e.g., ‘that’s true’, for the truth predicate (‘… is true’), a pro-form forming operator, such that the putative inter-linguistic word-world relation may be replaced with a purely expressive intralinguistic word-word relation. Such a view does not come without its detractors. For example, a common counterargument to the view has it that truth exemplifies a causal relation between truth-bearers and their truthmakers. The counterargument, so I suggest, may be questioned if there is an adequate amount of empirical data that supports the view it sets out to challenge. Subsequently, I re-examine and re-analyse empirical data that was originally reported by Arne Næss (1938, 1938, 1953). Following that, I expand upon Næss’ data through the employment of linguistic corpus analysis by using two corpora: The Macroscope and the Corpus of Contemporary American English. What the empirical data reveal is support for the hypothesis that non-philosophers use the phrase ‘that is true' and its various iterations as a prosentence. This suggests that non-philosophers express themselves in ways consistent with prosententialism. Whetherwe may say of these folks that they uphold presententialism about truth is beyond the scope of this paper, but if this paper does anything, it is that advocates of prosententialism may do well by calling upon empirical data to reinforce their view.

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The Virtual International Consortium for Truth Research (VICTR) is sponsored by the Future of Truth project at the University of Connecticut Humanities Institute, the University of Waikato, and the University of Alabama.

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October 18, 2021, 3:30pm EST

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