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Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation$
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Donald Davidson

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199246298

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199246297.001.0001

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In Defence of Convention T

In Defence of Convention T

(p.65) 5 In Defence of Convention T
Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation

Donald Davidson

Oxford University Press

As in Essay 4, Davidson rehearses the demands for an acceptable theory of meaning, and stresses the demand that the stock of concepts used by metalanguage in which the truth theory is stated extends minimally beyond, and ideally includes, that of the object language. He explains how this demand to keep technical machinery at a minimum is congenial to Tarksi's Convention T and his own favoured restriction to first‐order quantification. He then looks at how alternative approaches to semantics fare under this constraint and concludes that the prospects of those employing modal logics, possible world semantics, or substitutional quantification are accordingly dim. In specific, those programmes rely on relativized notions of truth, such as truth on a model, at the expense of leaving the absolute concept of truth undefined; yet it is this absolute concept we naturally apply to sentences and require when specifying their truth conditions or meanings.

Keywords:   absolute truth, Convention T, formal semantics, modal logics, possible world semantics, relativized truth, substitutional quantification, Tarksi

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