Relative Charity

Revista Brasileira de Filosofia 233:159-172 (2009)
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Abstract

Our aim is to propose a non-referential semantics for the principle of logical charity: neither logical universalism (one logic, one way of thinking), nor logical relativism (several logics, several ways of thinking) afford an adequate conceptual framework to interpret the meaning of any speech act. But neither of them is totally wrong, either. The point is to know to which extent each of these views is partly right, thus leading to a more consensual but paradoxical-sounding "relative principle of charity". After recalling the theoretical background of logical charity, we suggest a four-valued logic of acceptance and rejection (hereafter: AR4); then we explain how such a non-referential semantics does justice both to the champions of logical charity and its opponents. While endorsing coherence as a precondition for rationality, we argue that such a criterion does not entail that classical logic is a necessary conceptual scheme to interpret the others' beliefs. A better application of charity should take account of the questions implicitly asked by a statement, and we bring these questions out in replacing Quine's truth-functions by Quine’s verdict functions while emphasizing upon their varying degrees of strength.

Author's Profile

Fabien Schang
Universidade Federal de Goiás (PhD)

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