Saturday, June 27, 2015

On Tarski’s “Convention T” (expanded)


Convention T embodies our best intuition as to how the concept of truth is used.
-- Donald Davidson

My lone dissent:

More boredom thou shalt never see
than Tarski’s Truth Convention T.
“Snow’s white” is true -- let’s get this right --
if, but only if,  snow is white.

A.T.,  logician and skirt-chaser

When Tarski’s logical machinery is used to provide languages with an interpretation, it should not be seen as giving us a definition of truth. [Emphasis in original.]  When used in this way, it gives us a theory that, for each of the infinitely many sentences of the language, assigns a condition that obtains if and only if that sentence is true -- where truth is something we takes ourselves to understand antecedently, without definition.
-- Scott Soames, Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century (2003), vol. II, p. 293

For a major empirical research program, investigating the validity of Convention T, click here.

A fellow dissenter:

See for example the panegyrics in Wallace:  “It may strike the reader that Convention T is an astonishinglhy powerful intellectual device…” (etc.)  Wallace’s expressed admiration for the achievements of modern logic  is of course sincere, and I share it (not always for his reasons).  But these achievements should not be used to terrorize the reader …
-- Saul Kripke, “Substitutional Quantification”, in Evans & McDowell, eds., Truth and Meaning (1976), p. 340

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