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Schantz, Richard, editor. What is Truth? Current Issues in Theoretical Philosophy.

SCHANTZ, Richard, editor. What is Truth? Current Issues in Theoretical Philosophy, vol. 1. New York: de Gruyter, 2002. 339 pp. Cloth, $54.95--"'What is truth?' said jesting Pilate and would not stay for an answer," writes Francis Bacon, in his "On Truth." The Pilatean question stands in the title of this collection of twenty original papers, a time-honored question that today is again a focal point of philosophical discussion. The aim of the editor, Richard Schantz, who teaches at the University of Siegen, is to provide an assessment of rive competing answers: truth is correspondence, truth is coherence, truth is pragmatical utility, truth is a primitive unanalyzable property, and truth is disquotation.

The correspondence theory opens the volume supported by papers by William Alston, David Armstrong, Richard Boyd, Michael Devitt, and Richard Schantz. In order to maintain a robust theory of truth, which is the main point of this first group of papers, one has to continue developing accounts of the ontological status of facts, the status of correspondence, and the status of propositions. Papers by Robert Brandom, Dorothy Grover, Paul Horwich, and Michael Williams defend the deflationist theory of truth, which is most accredited among the epistemic accounts of truth, claiming, namely, that the truth of a statement does not consist in an external relation to a feature of reality but in its possessing a positive epistemic status within our conceptual scheme or within our experience. Deflationary or minimalist views of truth, some of them inspired by Tarski's seminal works, others by the second Wittgenstein, end up maintaining the exact contrary of the correspondence theory, that is, truth has no substantive role to play in philosophy. Deflationism is attacked in the papers submitted by Marian David, Colin McGinn, and Peter van Inwangen, while Tarski himself is revisited by Anil Gupta and Jaakko Hintikka. Pragmatic theories of truth insist that there is a close connection between the concept of truth and our human experience and practice. They are represented by the paper of Jay Rosenberg. The notion that truth is an unanalyzable primitive concept is discussed by Michael Dummett, Lorenz Puntel, Ralph Walker, and David Wiggin. Quine's own disquotational definition of truth is explained by Wolfgang Kunne.

This is an important book, the first of a series of three volumes dedicated to debates in contemporary philosophy (a second volume is planned on the externalist challenge, and a third on prospects for meaning), and one is indeed thankful to Schantz for having brought together such a complex variety of positions. Schantz himself is a defender of the correspondence theory, which, to his view, finds only one serious competitor: deflationist or minimalist theories.--Riccardo Pozzo, University of Verona.
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Author:Pozzo, Riccardo
Publication:The Review of Metaphysics
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 2004
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