Truth as an evaluative, semantic property: a defence of the linguistic priority thesis

Berkson, Jacob (2015) Truth as an evaluative, semantic property: a defence of the linguistic priority thesis. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

Thinking and using a language are two different but similar activities. Thinking
about thinking and thinking about language use have been two major strands in the
history of philosophy. One of the principal similarities is that they are both rational
activities. As a result, the ability to think and the ability to use a language require being
able to recognise and respond to reasons. However, there is a further feature of these
activities: we humans are able to have explicit knowledge of how those activities work
and what is done by performances in those activities. Thus, theorists face at least two
constraints:
1. An account of a rational activity must be compatible with the possibility of
agents engaging in that activity.
2. Having described an activity, it must be possible to have knowledge of an
activity which is correctly described like that.
There are a variety of accounts of how thinking works and how using a language
works, and further variation in accounts of what is involved in explicit understanding of
particular performances. These accounts can be distinguished by their views of the
nature of the reasons that govern performances in that activity and by their views of the
way a description of the activity relates to the way the activity proceeds. I argue that any
description of thinking or language use requires showing how the truth conditions of
thoughts/sentences are determined, and how the truth values of thoughts/sentences
affects the way the activity proceeds. I then argue that in order to have explicit
knowledge of what we do, truth has to be a substantial evaluative property of uses of
language, and furthermore a truth conditional theory of meaning has to be taken as the
description of the rationality of using a language. The big result is that, because in
understanding language we understand truth, the philosophy of language is first
philosophy.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > Philosophy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2015 10:07
Last Modified: 28 Sep 2015 14:32
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/54155

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