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Philosophical Writings$
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P. F. Strawson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199587292

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199587292.001.0001

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Knowledge and Truth

Knowledge and Truth

Chapter:
(p.109) 9 Knowledge and Truth
Source:
Philosophical Writings
Author(s):

P. F. Strawson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199587292.003.0009

An enquiry into the nature of truth tends to turn, on the one hand, into an enquiry into the nature of meaning, on the other hand into an enquiry into the nature of knowledge. These are not independent enquiries. A theory of meaning must be a theory of understanding. It must not only show how the meanings of sentences are systematically determined by the meanings of constituent words and constructions. It must be able to show how we understand meanings as so determined. Understanding a sentence is knowledge of its truth conditions. But the claim to know what the truth conditions of a sentence were would be an empty claim if accompanied by a total disclaimer of the ability to recognize when those truth conditions were fulfilled. More exactly, it would be nonsense to claim to know the truth conditions of a sentence but to admit to having no idea what would justify one in either affirming or denying that the conditions were fulfilled. Now a general theory of the justifying conditions for affirming or denying propositions is just what has been traditionally understood as a theory of knowledge. And so a theory of meaning points to a theory of knowledge. But, as this chapter shows, it may be a slightly misleading pointer.

Keywords:   truth, knowledge, belief, meaning

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