The Metaphysical Interpretation of Logical Truth

In Penelope Rush (ed.), The Metaphysics of Logic: Logical Realism, Logical Anti-Realism and All Things In Between. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 233-248 (2014)
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The starting point of this paper concerns the apparent difference between what we might call absolute truth and truth in a model, following Donald Davidson. The notion of absolute truth is the one familiar from Tarski’s T-schema: ‘Snow is white’ is true if and only if snow is white. Instead of being a property of sentences as absolute truth appears to be, truth in a model, that is relative truth, is evaluated in terms of the relation between sentences and models. I wish to examine the apparent dual nature of logical truth (without dwelling on Davidson), and suggest that we are dealing with a distinction between a metaphysical and a linguistic interpretation of truth. I take my cue from John Etchemendy, who suggests that absolute truth could be considered as being equivalent to truth in the ‘right model’, i.e., the model that corresponds with the world. However, the notion of ‘model’ is not entirely appropriate here as it is closely associated with relative truth. Instead, I propose that the metaphysical interpretation of truth may be illustrated in modal terms, by metaphysical modality in particular. One of the tasks that I will undertake in this paper is to develop this modal interpretation, partly building on my previous work on the metaphysical interpretation of the law of non-contradiction (Tahko 2009). After an explication of the metaphysical interpretation of logical truth, a brief study of how this interpretation connects with some recent important themes in philosophical logic follows. In particular, I discuss logical pluralism and propose an understanding of pluralism from the point of view of the metaphysical interpretation.

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Tuomas E. Tahko
University of Bristol


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