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The Philosophy of J. L. Austin$
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Martin Gustafsson and Richard Sørli

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199219759

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199219759.001.0001

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Truth and Merit

Truth and Merit

(p.175) 7 Truth and Merit
The Philosophy of J. L. Austin

Charles Travis

Oxford University Press

This chapter investigates Austin’s conception of truth, comparing it with Frege’s. Of central importance is the relation between the conceptual and the non‐conceptual, and, in particular, how to understand the generality that characterizes the conceptual. Frege thinks of it in terms of a function mapping objects onto truth‐values, such that once the function is determined it will not be left open how to apply it in a particular case. Austin rejects the very idea of such determinacy. For him, a concept does determine something, but what it determines leaves its application in particular cases negotiable. Still, he retains many of Frege’s central insights, such as the indefinability of truth, the shareability of content, and the notion of a fundamental distinction between the generality of the conceptual and particularity of the non‐conceptual. Frege’s and Austin’s views might even be fully reconcilable, given the different purposes for which they were proposed.

Keywords:   J. L. Austin, Gottlob Frege, truth, conceptual, generality, content

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