SOPhiA 2022

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Are Realism and Truth Enigmas? : A Dummetian Response
(Philosophy of Language, English)

The debate between Donald Davidson and Michael Dummett with regard to the notion of meaning have important and interesting bearings upon the discussions in theory of meaning and related issues in philosophy of language. While Davison took a strong realist position, preferring the classical theory of truth, Dummett's take came as a profound challenge to this position of the realist account of meaning, as advocated by Davidson. Dummett's challenge to the realist notion of meaning and the classical idea of truth forms the backbone of his anti-realistic account of meaning.

If we take the classical realist's account of meaning as a comprehensive theory of meaning, a large number of sentences remain outside the explanation of a theory of meaning as those lack any reference. Thus, "what constitutes the meaning of a sentence" itself comes under a review under such a discourse of meaning.

Dummett, challenged the position of the realists which used the classical notion of truth as one coming into play in determining meaning of a sentence and held a strong anti-realist position. He argued that the concern here does not lie in asking the question whether or not the entities of a particular type- universals, or material objects exist, but whether they are among the ultimate constituents of reality (Truth and Other Enigmas, 1978). If one can successfully raise the question whether we can at all claim that the entities like universals, material objects are among the ultimate constituents of reality, the realists' position can be majorly challenged.

This paper will analyse the classical theory of truth and meaning, and build a Dummetian case to argue as to why the realist account of meaning suffers a great deal in offering a "full-blooded theory of meaning". Since Donald Davidson is taken to be a strong defender of realism and truth, an important question of investigation is: can Davidson save his theory from Dummett's attack on realism and truth? If Dummett differs from Davidson in holding the correspondence version of truth and considers such a theory as un-preferable, why is the correspondence theory of truth not preferable for Dummett? What account of truth does Dummett propose which fits into his anti-realistic account of meaning, and thereby, offers a comprehensive theory of meaning?

Chair: Hugo Ribeiro Mota
Time: 11:20-11:50, 09. September 2022 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.007
Remark: (Online Talk)

Satarupa Chakraborty 
(Jawaharlal Nehru University, India)

Testability and Meaning deco