The Tarskian Turn: Deflationism And Axiomatic Truth (Mit Press)

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  • Publish Date: 2011-07-15
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Author: Leon Horsten

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A philosopher proposes a new deflationist view of truth, based on contemporary proof-theoretic approaches.

In The Tarskian Turn, Leon Horsten investigates the relationship between formal theories of truth and contemporary philosophical approaches to truth. The work of mathematician and logician Alfred Tarski (19011983) marks the transition from substantial to deflationary views about truth. Deflationismwhich holds that the notion of truth is light and insubstantialcan be and has been made more precise in multiple ways. Crucial in making the deflationary intuition precise is its relation to formal or logical aspects of the notion of truth. Allowing that semantical theories of truth may have heuristic value, in The Tarskian Turn Horsten focuses on axiomatic theories of truth developed since Tarski and their connection to deflationism.

Arguing that the insubstantiality of truth has been misunderstood in the literature, Horsten proposes and defends a new kind of deflationism, inferential deflationism, according to which truth is a concept without a nature or essence. He argues that this way of viewing the concept of truth, inspired by a formalization of Kripke's theory of truth, flows naturally from the best formal theories of truth that are currently available. Alternating between logical and philosophical chapters, the book steadily progresses toward stronger theories of truth. Technicality cannot be altogether avoided in the subject under discussion, but Horsten attempts to strike a balance between the need for logical precision on the one hand and the need to make his argument accessible to philosophers.

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