Philosophy | Philosophy of Language
P520 | 28026 | Weiner


Topic: Truth and Predication

There is widespread agreement among analytic philosophers that
Tarskiís work has something to teach us about truth.  But what,
exactly, it has to teach us is a matter of controversy.  Nonetheless,
some features seem uncontroversial.  One of Tarskiís great
contributions was to define truth (for formal languages) in terms of
satisfaction.  And satisfaction looks to be a relation that holds
between objects and predicates.  It doesnít seem particularly
difficult to recognize predicates of natural language.  And nobody
who has taken a symbolic logic course has any difficulty recognizing
or talking about the predicates of formal languages.  Except,
perhaps, one person.  That person was Gottlob Fregeó-the first to
formulate a logical language adequate for the expression of first
order logic as we know it today.

His problems with the notion of predicate led him to make the
notorious statement that the concept HORSE is not a concept.  And the
apparent absurdity of Fregeís statement was, perhaps, one reason that
the problem was roundly ignored for many years.  Recently, Donald
Davidson has argued that we need to return to the problem of
predication.

Davidson offers us not only an argument for the importance of an
apparently intractable problem, but also a purported solution in (a
modified version of) Tarskiís work.

The problem of predication and its ramifications for our conception
of truth is the topic of this course.  Readings will include writings
by Tarski, Quine, Davidson and Frege as well as some contemporary
writings about truth and vagueness.  Some background with symbolic
logic will be assumed.