Part 1B Logic: Truth


This is the web page for the Philosophy Part 1B lectures on Truth given by Richard Holton as part of the Logic paper at the University of Cambridge, Lent term 2015. This page provides links to papers and other texts that may be useful and to pdf versions of the handouts. The faculty reading list is here.

I will be focussing on what are there called the ‘correspondence’,‘semantic’ and ‘redundancy’ theories. A good overview, with links to many other resources, can be found in Michael Glanzberg’s Stanford Encyclopedia entry on truth. Note though, that, as he says there, this is really just for orientation: the arguments are largely ommitted. A excellent recent guide, which does have plenty of arguments, is Burgess and Burgess Truth (Princeton University Press 2011). Email me with any questions at rjh221@cam.ac.uk

Lectures


Introduction: traditional approaches, correspondence, deflationism and paradox (15th January)

Handout


Tarski’s projects (22nd January)

Handout

Primary reading

Tarski’s main piece on truth ‘The Concept of Truth in Formalized Languages’ is formidably long and difficult. But you can get a good introduction to the philosophical motivation from ‘The Semantic Conception of Truth and the Foundations of Semantics’ PPR 4 (1944). ‘Truth and Proof’ from The Scientific American, is also helpful.

Secondary reading

There are many introductions to Tarski’s formal method. The first sections of Chapter 2 of Burgess and Burgess are very clear, as is Chapter 3 of Scott Soames Understanding Truth. Field’s complaint about Tarski’s unrealized reductive project occurs in ‘Tarski’s Theory of Truth’ Journal of Philosophy 1972.


Varieties of deflationism and their difficulties (29th January)

Handout

Primary reading

An influential defence of what he calls minimalism is given by Paul Horwich in his book Truth.

Secondary reading


Kripke and other responses to the paradoxes (5th February)

Handout

Primary reading

S. Kripke ‘Outline of a Theory of Truth’. This isn’t quite as hard going as it might first seem. You should be able to read at least the first half. For an introduction, try the section in Burgess and Burgess:

Secondary reading

Burgess and Burgess on Kripke