The Tarskian Turn

The Tarskian Turn : Deflationism and Axiomatic Truth

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A philosopher proposes a new deflationist view of truth, based on contemporary proof-theoretic approaches.

In The Tarskian Turn, Leon Horsten investigates the relationship between formal theories of truth and contemporary philosophical approaches to truth. The work of mathematician and logician Alfred Tarski (1901-1983) marks the transition from substantial to deflationary views about truth. Deflationism--which holds that the notion of truth is light and insubstantial--can be and has been made more precise in multiple ways. Crucial in making the deflationary intuition precise is its relation to formal or logical aspects of the notion of truth. Allowing that semantical theories of truth may have heuristic value, in The Tarskian Turn Horsten focuses on axiomatic theories of truth developed since Tarski and their connection to deflationism.

Arguing that the insubstantiality of truth has been misunderstood in the literature, Horsten proposes and defends a new kind of deflationism, inferential deflationism, according to which truth is a concept without a nature or essence. He argues that this way of viewing the concept of truth, inspired by a formalization of Kripke's theory of truth, flows naturally from the best formal theories of truth that are currently available. Alternating between logical and philosophical chapters, the book steadily progresses toward stronger theories of truth. Technicality cannot be altogether avoided in the subject under discussion, but Horsten attempts to strike a balance between the need for logical precision on the one hand and the need to make his argument accessible to philosophers.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 178 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 17mm | 454g
  • MIT Press
  • Cambridge, United States
  • English
  • 0262015862
  • 9780262015868
  • 1,544,557

Review quote

It is short, very clearly and attractively written (often with a pleasing light touch), and it nicely explains the content of some key formal theories and presents the key results about them, sometimes sketching proofs, but often just pointing to proofs in the literature for enthusiasts to follow up....Overall, I think Leon Horsten has succeeded brilliantly at the task of outlining and so making accessible a range of recent work on theories of truth....a beautifully structured guided tour.

--Analysis
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About Leon Horsten

Leon Horsten is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Bristol, UK.
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