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“Dyadic Truth” by Zoltán Gendler Szabó (Yale University)

Date: 3:30pm - 5:00pm PST December 7, 2012 Location: J.R. Howard Hall 202

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J.R. Howard Hall 202

Dyadic Truth


Zoltán Gendler Szabó

Yale University


Philosophical orthodoxy holds that ‘true’ is a monadic predicate. I think this view is only halfway correct: there is indeed a monadic truth-predicate in English and other natural languages but this is not the fundamental truth-predicate we use. What can be true simpliciter are particular mental states (beliefs, hopes, wishes, etc.) a thinker might be in or particular speech acts (assertions, denials, suppositions, etc.) a speaker might perform. These mental states and speech-acts are truth-apt because they have propositional contents. But propositions are not true simpliciter – they are true ofsituations. Thus, the fundamental notion of truth is relational. My argument for this claim is simple. Monadic truth-predicates are ill-suited for the purposes of semantics. Those who think semantic explanations are any good must provide adequate paraphrases for the various relational notions we employ in formulating those explanations. For most non-monadictruth-predicates employed by semanticists adequate paraphrases in terms of monadic propositional truth can be given. But when it comes to ‘sentence S is true at context c and situation s’ we can only provide a paraphrase in terms of dyadic propositional truth. Since our best semantics arguably needs this particular truth-predicate we have good reason to think that propositional truth is dyadic. 

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Claire Kodachi, Administrative Coordinator, Philosophy Department.  503-768-7480
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