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  • Thinking about Transcendental truth with Heidegger and Davidson In his last, posthumously published book, Truth and Predication, Davidson suggests that the application of Tarskian truth-definitions for particular languages depends upon a pre-existing grasp of a general concept of truth (that is not simply truth-in-L for a particular language). Davidson argues that this cuts against both correspondence and coherence definitions of truth, but also against disquotationalist views on which the notion of truth is empty or redundant. Recently, both Mark Wrathall and Mark Okrent have suggested connections between Davidsons translational project and Heideggers understanding of truth as disclosure in practical situations of action and comportment. I shall consider whether and to what extent Heideggers understanding of truth as disclosure or aletheia indeed can underwrite a general understanding of the basis of truth and predication in such a way as to be capable of synthesis with Davidsons Tarskian picture. In conclusion, I consider the implications of this synthesis for Davidsons argument against the dualism of scheme and content in On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme.
  • Slide 2
  • Propositional Truth and Transcendental Truth In the following, Ill assume that Tarskis convention (T) captures, in an important way, the structure of propositional truth in a language: (T): Snow is white is true-in-English iff snow is white. Tarski offers this as a reformulation that captures the spirit of Aristotles Metaphysics IV, 7, 1011 b 26: To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true In an important sense, an extensionally adequate truth-definition for a language captures everything that can be said about truth and falsity in the language Nevertheless there are still further questions to be raised about the presuppositions or bases of propositional truth, so understood.
  • Slide 3
  • Two questions about transcendental truth: Is there something to say about truth in general (not just truth-in-L for a particular language L)? Is there something to say about the non- sentential preconditions for the truth of sentences?
  • Slide 4
  • Davidson on Tarski (Truth & Predication) My own view is that Tarski has told us much of what we want to know about the concept of truth, and that there must be more. There must be more because there is no indication in Tarskis formal work of what it is that his various truth predicates have in common, and this must be part of the content of the concept. It is not enough to point to Convention-T as that indication, for it does not speak to the question of how we know that a theory of truth for a language is correct. The concept of truth has essential connections with the concepts of belief and meaning, but these connections are untouched by Tarskis work. (Truth and Predication, pp. 27-28)
  • Slide 5
  • Davidson, Truth, and Interpretation (review) Davidson holds that what a speaker knows in knowing a language, as discovered in radical interpretation, can be captured by a recursive (and finitely axiomatizable) truth-theory in Tarskis sense which allows particular sentences to be connected to their truth-conditions, thus yielding as consequences all the true sentences of form (T). Because belief and meaning are interdependent and inseparable factors in interpretation, it is necessary to apply charity principles in arriving at a theory of meaning for a particular language: we must attempt to maximize the agreement between speaker and interpreter.
  • Slide 6
  • Heidegger on the basis of assertoric truth Truth is aletheia, disclosure, or unconcealment. Truth, as aletheia,is not primarily correspondence or the truth of assertions, but the disclosure of entities. The pointing-out which assertion does is performed on the basis of what has already been disclosed in understanding or discovered circumspectively. Assertion is not a free-floating kind of behaviour which, in its own right, might be capable of disclosing entities in general or in a primary way: on the contrary it always maintains itself on the basis of Being-in-the-world. (S&Z, p. 156) Thus assertion is grounded in the prior disclosure of entities: both in the availability of the individual entities involved and in the holistic context of understanding in which they figure. Example: The hammer is too heavy.
  • Slide 7
  • Davidson and Heidegger: initial similarities Both philosophers reject all of the following: i) Correspondence truth ii) Timeless propositions as truth-bearers iii) Epistemic, verificationist, subjectivist, coherence, communitarian, or pragmatist theories of the basis of truth Recent commentary has emphasized the reasons for i) and ii), but not iii)
  • Slide 8
  • Davidson against correspondence truth 1) The slingshot: If a sentence is made true by corresponding to an entity, then (on certain extensionalist assumptions) all true sentences correspond to the same (maximal) entity 2) We cannot understand predication or the unity of the sentence by taking predicates or the copula to have their own, separable, representational reference or by taking there to be special kinds of entities for sentences to correspond to This is because every such assumption involves infinite regresses and fails to clarify the actual structure of predication Example: The chalkboard is black; Theatetus flies
  • Slide 9
  • Heidegger against correspondence truth Asserting is a being-toward the thing itself[In confirmation] the entity itself which one has in mind shows itself just as it is in itself; that is to say, it shows that it, in its selfsameness, is just as it gets pointed out in the assertion as being just as it gets uncovered as being. Representations do not get compared, either among themselves or in relation to the real thing. (S&Z, p. 218)
  • Slide 10
  • Davidson and Heidegger on truth and realism Heidegger: There is truth only in so far as Dasein is and so long as Dasein is. Davidson: Nothing in the world, no object or event, would be true or false if there were not thinking creatures. H. and D. are sometimes seen as agreeing on a conception of truth as grounded in human action and comportment, intersubjective social practices and/or regularities of behavior But this renders mysterious the strenuous arguments of both philosophers against epistemic, verificationist, and (more generally) anti-realist theories of truth
  • Slide 11
  • Davidson against epistemic theories We should not say that truth is correspondence, coherence, warranted assertability, ideally justified assertability, what is accepted in the conversation of the right people, what science will end up maintaining, what explains the convergence on final theories in science, or the success of our ordinary beliefs anti-realism, with its limitation of truth to what can be ascertained, deprives truth of its role as an intersubjective standard (Truth and Predication, pp. 47-48)
  • Slide 12
  • Heidegger against epistemic theories It is not we who need to presuppose that somewhere there is in itself a truth in the form of a transcendent value or valid meaning floating somewhere. Instead, truth itself, the basic constitution of the Dasein, presupposes us, is the presupposition for our own existence. Being-true, unveiledness, is the fundamental condition for our being able to be in the way in which we exist as Dasein. Truth is the presupposition for our being able to presuppose anything at all. For presupposing is in every case an unveiling establishment of something as being. Presupposition everywhere presupposes truth. (Basic Problems, p. 221)
  • Slide 13
  • Wrathall: Practical expertise bestows a normativity on things, a normativity similar to (and Heidegger would say a precursor to) the normative structure discernable in our understanding of truth It is thus on the basis of our pragmatic discovery of things that language is possible, for it is the structure of equipment and involvements built into our comportment which delineates the features of things which are salient to us--the very features which form the content of our beliefs and utterances. (Heidegger and Unconcealment, pp. 46-47) Okrent: [T]here is something substantial to say about truth beyond what Davidson is willing to commit himself to, and Heidegger has gone a long way toward saying it. Truth is uncovering, and it is tied ontologically to the existence of a being whose very definition consists in the ability to unveil the world by actively and successfully coping with it perceptually in a motor-intentional way. (Davidson, Heidegger, and Truth, p. 109)
  • Slide 14
  • Ill argue that: i) If we see how Davidson supplements Heidegger (in the right sort of way) then truth isnt simply uncovering (or being-uncovered) Ii) If we see how Heidegger supplements Davidson (in the right sort of way) truth isnt reducible to the exercise of our abilities or the execution of our actions (or our comportments)
  • Slide 15
  • I. How Tarski-Davidson supplements Heidegger Tarski and Davidson, following Frege, take the assertion (or sentence) to be the primary locus of truth. In Truth and Predication, Davidson argues that this is the key to Tarskis solution to the ancient problem of predication: we can take the truth or falsity of sentences as primary and reconstruct the reference and satisfaction on that basis (without taking predicates to have their own, separate reference). This appears at firs


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