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The Truth in Contextual Semantics

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In a series of papers written over the last two decades, Terence Horgan has articulated a radical position on truth and metaphysics that he calls contextual semantics. According to Horgan, we can abandon referentialism – or the idea that truth is always and everywhere understood in terms of the referential relations between words and world – while still sensibly believing in a mind-independent world. The centerpiece of contextual semantics is that it allows for some flexibility about truth: statements of different sorts can be true in different ways depending on the degree to which they correspond to the world. In this paper, I explore the consequences of this position.While I believe that contextual semantics has significant advantages, there is a deep tension between Horgan'stolerance of more than one kind of truth and his belief in one type of reality – a tension that threatens to undermine the entire position.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2002

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