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PY4804 Philosophy of Logic

Handout 1: Kirkham's Framework

(Kirkham, Theories of Truth, ch. 1)

1. The Four-Dimensional Confusion (pp. 2, 39): what is a theory of truth?

(i) vagueness or unclarity in the description of the project

(ii) ambiguity—different projects may be described in the same words

(iii) misleading reduplication—describing the same project in different words

(iv) conflation of different projects—failure to focus on one specific project

2. Equivalence: the ambiguity of ‘iff’ (‘if and only if’):

(i) material or extensional equivalence: p ≡ q (p and q have the same truthvalue—i.e. in the
actual world)

(ii) natural or naturalistic equivalence: p ↔ q (p and q have the same truthvalue in all
naturalistically possible worlds, i.e. in all worlds with the same laws as the actual world)

(iii) essential equivalence: p ⇔ q, i.e. (p ≡ q) (p and q have the same truthvalue in all possible
(iv) intensional equivalence: p =syn q (p and q have the same meaning)

3. The Locutionary/Illocutionary Distinction

(i) Austin distinguished

(a) performative utterances (such as ‘I promise you £5’ or ‘I do’ uttered in the marriage
ceremony), which are used to do or perform something and not to state anything, from
(b) constative utterances, which are used to state that something is the case
(ii) Austin later claimed that all utterances are used to do something, for constative utterances
are used to state something, promises to promise something, warnings to warn someone of
something, and so on
(iii) Accordingly, he distinguished between the locutionary act, the act of uttering something
with a certain sense and reference, from the illocutionary act, the act of uttering something
with a certain force (the illocutionary force), such as stating, promising, warning etc. (The
illocutionary force was distinguished from the perlocutionary force, the causal effect the
utterance might have, say, in causing the hearer to turn round)


4. Projects for a Theory of Truth (pp. 20-21, 37)

(i) The Speech Act Project The purpose of speaking truly

(a) The Illocutionary Act Project (Strawson, Price)
deny any locutionary purpose, and identify the illocutionary purpose (non-cognitivism)

(b) The Assertion Project

what does ‘is true’ mean? To find an expression intensionally equivalent to ‘true’

(α) The Ascription Project (no takers) to describe the locutionary purpose and
content of truth ascriptions
(β) The Deep Structure Project (Ramsey, White, Williams, Grover et al.)

to discern the underlying hidden locutionary purpose despite misleading surface


(ii) The Metaphysical Project what truth consists in—to find necessary and sufficient
conditions for being true

(a) The Extensional Project (Tarski, Kripke)

to find actually necessary and sufficient conditions (p. 5), to fix the extension of ‘true’
(in the actual world)

(b) The Naturalistic Project (Tarski?, Field)

to find such conditions in all physically possible worlds

(c) The Essence Project (Russell, Austin, Horwich)

to find the essential features (but not the meaning), a definition or analysis of truth (but
distinct from (ib) above)
(iii) The Justification Project (Bradley, James, Blanshard)
(not really a theory of truth at all—p. 26) To find a characteristic mark, which we can
recognise, of most true statements by which their likely truth can be determined

5. Sources of Possible Confusion in reading Kirkham

(i) the Assertion Project (ib), a division of the Speech Act project, is introduced (p. 9) in the
middle of a discussion of the different senses of ‘iff’ which eventually distinguish subclasses
of the Metaphysical project (iia-c). How does (ibα) differ from (iic)?
(ii) necessary and sufficient conditions may identify only the actual extension, or the possible
extension (p. 24): “‘necessary and sufficient conditions’ is ambiguous in a way that parallels
the ambiguity of ‘if and only if’.”

(iii) how does the naturalistic project, as described by Kirkham (p. 20) relate to naturalism as
normally conceived: that everything is composed of natural entities, those studied in science,
and that the best methods of enquiry are those of natural science; and to physicalism? (pp.
196 ff.): “all intellectually respectable concepts can be defined ultimately and entirely in
terms of the concepts of logic, mathematics and physical science.”