The metaphysical implications of disquotationalism

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The metaphysical implications of disquotationalism

Post by Yahadreas on Sun Oct 18, 2015 7:08 pm

Let's start with something simple. "The chair exists" is true iff the chair exists. Are there any metaphysical implications of this? For example, does this imply realism? Some might say that it does; that anti realism or idealism require a different account of truth, e.g "The chair exists" is true iff a chair is seen. I disagree. I believe that the disquotational account simply states the relationship between a used statement, a mentioned statement, and truth-predication (as a linguistic event), hence it being a linguistic account of truth rather than a metaphysical account, and so that it neither implies realism nor is inconsistent with anti realism or idealism.

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Re: The metaphysical implications of disquotationalism

Post by Cpt_Fantastic on Sun Oct 18, 2015 8:41 pm

I don't think it says much of anything, really.
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Re: The metaphysical implications of disquotationalism

Post by mcdoodle on Sun Oct 18, 2015 9:33 pm

Yahadreas wrote:Let's start with something simple. "The chair exists" is true iff the chair exists. Are there any metaphysical implications of this? For example, does this imply realism? Some might say that it does; that anti realism or idealism require a different account of truth, e.g "The chair exists" is true iff a chair is seen. I disagree. I believe that the disquotational account simply states the relationship between a used statement, a mentioned statement, and truth-predication (as a linguistic event), hence it being a linguistic account of truth rather than a metaphysical account, and so that it neither implies realism nor is inconsistent with anti realism or idealism.
I'd like to ask a Witty-type question about this disquotational idea.

In what way is a generalised statement like 'The chair exists.' meaningful without a writer and a reader. Can we take sentences of ordinary language, place them on a pedestal as if no-one in particular spoke or wrote them to no-one in particular, and claim they are truth-apt, and if so, how and why would we do that?

I can for instance imagine a scene in a Beckettian drama in which there is no chair on stage. 'Sit in the chair,' says teacher to pupil. The pupil looks round at emptiness. 'The chair exists,' says teacher. The pupil sighs in acquiescence, mimes pulling up a chair and sitting in one. The pupil doesn't fall over.

Cue audience laughter. And no chair in existence.

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Re: The metaphysical implications of disquotationalism

Post by Dunnagan on Mon Oct 19, 2015 3:50 am

mcdoodle wrote:
I'd like to ask a Witty-type question about this disquotational idea.

In what way is a generalised statement like 'The chair exists.' meaningful without a writer and a reader.  Can we take sentences of ordinary language, place them on a pedestal as if no-one in particular spoke or wrote them to no-one in particular, and claim they are truth-apt, and if so, how and why would we do that?  
.
Sadly, I'm not Nagase, who would give a learned response. I was Kelvin, and then Mongrel.. but I did spend some time trying to get a handle on this issue. I think it's especially true if you're wanting to be as deflationist as possible to embrace Austin's view of the statement. Yes, it is something that is spoken by someone. It's assumed that the speaker means something by it. It is assumed that you, the listener, are able to discern the intention of the speaker. What Austin doesn't allow is analysis of the statement into things like utterance, sentence, and proposition. Austin feels that this analysis is dubious, and in some ways, he's probably right. A statement does have a cohesive, unified quality to it. Maybe there's an aspect to it that is convention. Maybe there's an apriori component to understanding what someone is saying. Maybe we're partially telepathic. Austin doesn't particularly care about the mechanics of understanding... or at least see it as the province of philosophy. He observes that we do appear to understand one another. We occasionally agree, and when we do, we're prone to speaking in terms of truth when we're confident that what "we" are saying is right. There's some Correspondence Theory being smuggled in here. Though Frege seems to have laid it to waste, it rises again from the surf unmolested. We can't seem to entirely dispense with it.

Best wishes, and the peace of an Appalachian forest to you dudes... Arrow


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Re: The metaphysical implications of disquotationalism

Post by TheWillowOfDarkness on Mon Oct 19, 2015 11:31 am

Yahadreas wrote:Let's start with something simple. "The chair exists" is true iff the chair exists. Are there any metaphysical implications of this? For example, does this imply realism? Some might say that it does; that anti realism or idealism require a different account of truth, e.g "The chair exists" is true iff a chair is seen. I disagree. I believe that the disquotational account simply states the relationship between a used statement, a mentioned statement, and truth-predication (as a linguistic event), hence it being a linguistic account of truth rather than a metaphysical account, and so that it neither implies realism nor is inconsistent with anti realism or idealism.

The problem is that '"The chair exists" is true iff the chair exists' is actually a metaphysical point. It states relationship of logical expres​sion(hence, it is metaphysical) between a true statement and the world. Logically, if "the chair exists" is a true statement, then the chair exists.

Under the disquotational account, there is, indeed, nothing more than a relationship between a used statement and the world: it is about what is the case when truth is spoken. And therein lies the problem for anti-realism and idealism. Since all language use is public (viz Witty), there is nothing about the world or logic which lies beyond language. The unspeakable world which anti-realism and idealism require, the world outside language, cannot be defined. Any state of the world may be spoken in language: it can be spoken in a true statement and the particular fluctuations of language use at a given time do not change this. When something is true, it is so regardless of whether anyone is talking or thinking about it at the time.

Your analysis makes the mistake of treating this metaphysical point as if it is empirical. The supposed problem with realism is we are unable to know what things are around in the absence of our experience- how does one know the moon is there is they do not see it? This misses the realist's point. Moon or no moon, the realist wins. States of the world remain defined without them appearing in experience. What you Cartesian style doubt actually challenges is whether or not we know some state of the world is so, if we aren't experiencing it. Rather than challenging whether there is an "external world"- a world not defined by experience- it only challenges whether the unobserved world is in some particular state we argue it is.

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Re: The metaphysical implications of disquotationalism

Post by TheWillowOfDarkness on Mon Oct 19, 2015 11:38 am

mcdoodle wrote:In what way is a generalised statement like 'The chair exists.' meaningful without a writer and a reader.  Can we take sentences of ordinary language, place them on a pedestal as if no-one in particular spoke or wrote them to no-one in particular, and claim they are truth-apt, and if so, how and why would we do that?  

We never do that though, by are definition as writers and readers. If we are discussing "the chairs exists," even in the context of it being unobserved, we are the writers and readers to whom the language means. At all times we are stuck in our language. We never place language on a pedestal as if no-one in particular spoke or wrote it.

If we talk about whether statement is truth apt, we are investigating the meaning of a truth-apt statement and its relationship to the world. It means to us and that is what our use of language amounts to.

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Re: The metaphysical implications of disquotationalism

Post by Yahadreas on Mon Oct 19, 2015 11:59 am

TheWillowOfDarkness wrote:Under the disquotational account, there is, indeed, nothing more than a relationship between a used statement and the world

This, I believe, is a misunderstanding. The disquotational account says nothing about the world (beyond language). It only explains the relationship between a used statement and a mentioned statement; "'the chair exists' is true" means "the chair exists". It doesn't make any metaphysical claim regarding the existence of chairs. As such it does not entail realism. The anti realist is quite capable of saying that the statements "the chair exists" and "'the chair exists' is true" mean the same thing, and this is all that is required to accept the disquotational account of truth.

Since all language use is public (viz Witty), there is nothing about the world or logic which lies beyond language. The unspeakable world which anti-realism and idealism require, the world outside language, cannot be defined.

You have it backwards. Realism requires a world beyond language (that to which a true statement corresponds). Realism argues for unspoken, verification-transcendent truths. It is the anti realist who argues against such a thing. It is the anti realist who argues that nothing (coherent) transcends language (and experience).

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Re: The metaphysical implications of disquotationalism

Post by TheWillowOfDarkness on Mon Oct 19, 2015 12:17 pm

Yahadreas wrote:
TheWillowOfDarkness wrote:Under the disquotational account, there is, indeed, nothing more than a relationship between a used statement and the world

This, I believe, is a misunderstanding. The disquotational account says nothing about the world (beyond language). It only explains the relationship between a used statement and a mentioned statement; "'the chair exists' is true" means "the chair exists". It doesn't make any metaphysical claim regarding the existence of chairs. As such it does not entail realism. The anti realist is quite capable of saying that the statements "the chair exists" and "'the chair exists' is true" mean the same thing, and this is all that is required to accept the disquotational account of truth.

Not directly, no. It does, however, do so through the significance of language. In stating the logical requirement of any true statement (e.g. a chair, if the statement "chair exists" is true), it renders definition a state by other states (e.g. experiences) incoherent.

The problem for the anti-realist is not in accepting or rejecting the disquotational account of truth per se. Rather, it is in the logical consequences of states being defined in-themselves (i.e. if chair, then chair). The antirealist says: "If experience of chair (as that is, for them, a chair), then chair."

Thus, for there to be any truth (if X, then X), the anti-realist must posit experience at all times- "If experience of X (as that is, for them X) ,then X. The anti-realist is committed to arguing the infinite presence of experience, as there can be no truth without it.

This is, of course, a contradiction. Experiences are states of the world, meaning they are all finite.


Yahadreas wrote:You have it backwards. Realism requires a world beyond language (that to which a true statement corresponds). Realism argues for unspoken, verification-transcendent truths. It is the anti realist who argues against such a thing. It is the anti realist who argues that nothing (coherent) transcends language (and experience).

Yeah... that's your misunderstanding. Realism has never argued for a world beyond language: that which a true statement corresponds has the same meaning as the language which talks about it. For the realist, nothing is beyond language. Language talks about other things, about things which are not the state of language itself. What the realist argues is that everything which outside given experience or language use is significant in language. It just not the language used at the given point. Nothing transcends language for the realist (i.e. is outside what language can possibly talk about).

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Re: The metaphysical implications of disquotationalism

Post by Yahadreas on Mon Oct 19, 2015 12:30 pm

TheWillowOfDarkness wrote:
Yahadreas wrote:
TheWillowOfDarkness wrote:Under the disquotational account, there is, indeed, nothing more than a relationship between a used statement and the world

This, I believe, is a misunderstanding. The disquotational account says nothing about the world (beyond language). It only explains the relationship between a used statement and a mentioned statement; "'the chair exists' is true" means "the chair exists". It doesn't make any metaphysical claim regarding the existence of chairs. As such it does not entail realism. The anti realist is quite capable of saying that the statements "the chair exists" and "'the chair exists' is true" mean the same thing, and this is all that is required to accept the disquotational account of truth.

Not directly, no. It does, however, do so through the significance of language. In stating the logical requirement of any true statement (e.g. a chair, if the statement "chair exists" is true), it renders definition a state by other states (e.g. experiences) incoherent.

The problem for the anti-realist is not in accepting or rejecting the disquotational account of truth per se. Rather, it is in the logical consequences of states being defined in-themselves (i.e. if chair, then chair). The antirealist says: "If experience of chair (as that is, for them, a chair), then chair."

Thus, for there to be any truth (if X, then X), the anti-realist must posit experience at all times- "If experience of X (as that is, for them X) ,then X. The anti-realist is committed to arguing the infinite presence of experience, as there can be no truth without it.

This is, of course, a contradiction. Experiences are states of the world, meaning they are all finite.  


I think you're confusing antirealism with phenomenalism. The anti realist need not say "chair iff experience of chair". The antirealist can say "chair iff chair". The antirealist can even say "the chair exists even when not seen". All he has to do is reject what you say you reject - that there is a world beyond language and that the truth of a sentence consists in it corresponding to this trans-linguistic world (this correspondence theory being the hallmark of realism).

Antirealism is consistent with a coherency account of truth (which does not preclude the disquotational account) and the coherency account of truth allows for "chair iff chair" (and does not require "chair iff experience of chair").

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Re: The metaphysical implications of disquotationalism

Post by TheWillowOfDarkness on Mon Oct 19, 2015 12:43 pm

Yahadreas wrote:I think you're confusing antirealism with phenomenalism. The anti realist need not say "chair iff experience of chair". The antirealist can say "chair iff chair". The antirealist can even say "the chair exists even when not seen". All he has to do is reject what you say you reject - that there is a world beyond language and that the truth of a sentence consists in it corresponding to this trans-linguistic world (this correspondence theory being the hallmark of realism).

Antirealism is consistent with a coherency account of truth (which does not preclude the disquotational account) and the coherency account of truth allows for "chair iff chair" (and does not require "chair iff experience of chair").

But they cannot: if the anti-realist accepts the chair (i.e. that thing people sit in, with arms, a back and comfy cushions,etc.,etc.) exists, then they have accepted there is a world beyond present experience. In doing that they have taken a stance their understanding (i.e. chair exists) corresponds/coheres with state they have never experienced. They claim a chair exists which has not been encountered in experience. Every hallmark of a realist making a claim about the existence of a state outside experience (which is, in fact, what they are in making such a claim).

Phenomenalism is sort of critical here because states of the world defined in how they manifest as phenomena. Take away the place to sit, the arms, the back, the object onto which someone clambers, and there is NO CHAIR at all. Any chair is defined by a particular significance, a meaning, in language, in logic. Without it, there is not the state of a chair. If the anti-realist is going to argue "there is an unseen chair" then they must posit this significance in phenomena, else they aren't talking about a chair and their claim becomes incoherent.

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Re: The metaphysical implications of disquotationalism

Post by Yahadreas on Mon Oct 19, 2015 4:18 pm

TheWillowOfDarkness wrote:But they cannot: if the anti-realist accepts the chair (i.e. that thing people sit in, with arms, a back and comfy cushions,etc.,etc.) exists, then they have accepted there is a world beyond present experience. In doing that they have taken a stance their understanding (i.e. chair exists) corresponds/coheres with state they have never experienced. They claim a chair exists which has not been encountered in experience. Every hallmark of a realist making a claim about the existence of a state outside experience (which is, in fact, what they are in making such a claim).

The antirealist can accept the truth of "there are chairs beyond present experience". The difference between the realist and the antirealist is over their explanation of truth-makers. The realist requires a world beyond language - something that you reject - to which a statement must correspond to be true. The antirealist - of the coherency theorist variety - only requires that the statement "there are chairs beyond present experience" coheres with other statements (statements which may describe what we see or offer an instrumental explanation of what we see).

If you reject a world beyond language then you must reject correspondence and so realism. And contrary to your account, antirealism does not require a rejection of the disquotational account (as such an account only explains the semantic equivalence of "'X' is true" and "X").

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Re: The metaphysical implications of disquotationalism

Post by TheWillowOfDarkness on Mon Oct 19, 2015 11:54 pm

Yahadreas wrote:
TheWillowOfDarkness wrote:But they cannot: if the anti-realist accepts the chair (i.e. that thing people sit in, with arms, a back and comfy cushions,etc.,etc.) exists, then they have accepted there is a world beyond present experience. In doing that they have taken a stance their understanding (i.e. chair exists) corresponds/coheres with state they have never experienced. They claim a chair exists which has not been encountered in experience. Every hallmark of a realist making a claim about the existence of a state outside experience (which is, in fact, what they are in making such a claim).

The antirealist can accept the truth of "there are chairs beyond present experience". The difference between the realist and the antirealist is over their explanation of truth-makers. The realist requires a world beyond language - something that you reject - to which a statement must correspond to be true. The antirealist - of the coherency theorist variety - only requires that the statement "there are chairs beyond present experience" coheres with other statements (statements which may describe what we see or offer an instrumental explanation of what we see).

If you reject a world beyond language then you must reject correspondence and so realism. And contrary to your account, antirealism does not require a rejection of the disquotational account (as such an account only explains the semantic equivalence of "'X' is true" and "X").

Coherency and correspondence are two sides of the same coin. The entire point of correspondence is some state (a state of the world) is reflected in language (statements about that state of the world), such that language is talking about a state that exists (as opposed to some imaginary state which doesn't). For correspondence, being within language is the entire point, for it constitutes the "match," the "correspondence" between a use of language and a state of the world (which is NOT the language, but is nevertheless talked about by it). Since we talk about the world in language, correspondence to a world which is outside language is impossible.

When statements cohere, there is actually correspondence between statements and events of the world. If I talk about my computer and its role in making this post, my statements are about my existing computer and what it does. My language "corresponds" to the states of the world which is my computer and making this post. And this is also the "coherence" of my statements on the matter. For all my statements about my computer to cohere, they must correspond to what is happening the the world, else they wouldn't cohere.  If my computer isn't on at the moment and I am not posting a message to this forum (as I think I am), then my statements don't cohere ( "Computer on" ) with statements of what is going on ("Computer off" ).

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Re: The metaphysical implications of disquotationalism

Post by Blueswing on Tue Oct 20, 2015 1:47 pm

Yahadreas wrote:Let's start with something simple. "The chair exists" is true iff the chair exists. Are there any metaphysical implications of this? For example, does this imply realism? Some might say that it does; that anti realism or idealism require a different account of truth, e.g "The chair exists" is true iff a chair is seen. I disagree. I believe that the disquotational account simply states the relationship between a used statement, a mentioned statement, and truth-predication (as a linguistic event), hence it being a linguistic account of truth rather than a metaphysical account, and so that it neither implies realism nor is inconsistent with anti realism or idealism.

Is your initial example supposed to represent a used statement, a mentioned statement and a truth-predication?

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Re: The metaphysical implications of disquotationalism

Post by Yahadreas on Tue Oct 20, 2015 2:08 pm

Yes, Blueswing.

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Re: The metaphysical implications of disquotationalism

Post by Blueswing on Tue Oct 20, 2015 2:24 pm

Yahadreas wrote:Yes, Blueswing.

But it doesn't seem possible to tell from looking at the sentence that it is a disquotational sentence. Forgive me if I am being slow, I just want to understand what you are saying.

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Re: The metaphysical implications of disquotationalism

Post by Yahadreas on Tue Oct 20, 2015 2:34 pm

Blueswing wrote:But it doesn't seem possible to tell from looking at the sentence that it is a disquotational sentence. Forgive me if I am being slow, I just want to understand what you are saying.

"The chair exists" is true iff the chair exists.

I'm not sure what you mean by saying that we can't see that the above is a disquotational sentence. It seems obvious to me. It's the standard form.

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Re: The metaphysical implications of disquotationalism

Post by Blueswing on Tue Oct 20, 2015 3:16 pm

Yahadreas wrote:
I'm not sure what you mean by saying that we can't see that the above is a disquotational sentence. It seems obvious to me. It's the standard form.

This is the first time I have come across disquotationalism, I'm trying to understand what it is. At the moment I don't see why your sentence isn't just a standard, general statement (rather than being specifically disquotational).

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Re: The metaphysical implications of disquotationalism

Post by Yahadreas on Tue Oct 20, 2015 7:30 pm

The disquotational account simply explains that the meaning of "'X' is true" is "X". It doesn't try to explain truth in terms of correspondence or coherence or verification, and so on.

There's more info here.

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Re: The metaphysical implications of disquotationalism

Post by Blueswing on Tue Oct 20, 2015 10:30 pm

Yahadreas wrote:The disquotational account simply explains that the meaning of "'X' is true" is "X". It doesn't try to explain truth in terms of correspondence or coherence or verification, and so on.

There's more info here.

I really enjoyed that, thanks Yahadreas. My answer to your question then is that the disquotational account has no metaphysical implications, because the disquotational account is about the language we use to express ideas about metaphysics, and not about metaphysics itself, whatever that is.

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Re: The metaphysical implications of disquotationalism

Post by cavacava on Wed Oct 21, 2015 1:44 am

Yahadreas wrote:Let's start with something simple. "The chair exists" is true iff the chair exists. Are there any metaphysical implications of this? For example, does this imply realism? Some might say that it does; that anti realism or idealism require a different account of truth, e.g "The chair exists" is true iff a chair is seen. I disagree. I believe that the disquotational account simply states the relationship between a used statement, a mentioned statement, and truth-predication (as a linguistic event), hence it being a linguistic account of truth rather than a metaphysical account, and so that it neither implies realism nor is inconsistent with anti realism or idealism.

Interesting, I was looking for a place to insert Kosuth's famous work "Chair":

'

Which 'chair' are you referring to? The written description, the 'chair' siting in the museum or the photo of the 'chair' or are all these different aspects of the same concept, as the unity of the work suggests.

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Re: The metaphysical implications of disquotationalism

Post by Blueswing on Wed Oct 21, 2015 9:30 am

cavacava wrote:
Which 'chair' are you referring to? The written description, the 'chair' siting in the museum or the photo of the 'chair' or are all these different aspects of the same concept, as the unity of the work suggests.

The chair is only being used to make the discussion more concrete, you can think of it as "X".

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Re: The metaphysical implications of disquotationalism

Post by Marchesk on Sat Oct 24, 2015 6:05 am

Disquotationalism implies that language can be about things non-linguistic, otherwise what's the point in disqouting? The disquoted chair is meant to signify a thing you sit in, not a feature of language. That's why it's disquoted. Otherwise, language is just a bunch of symbols referencing other symbols, and it doesn't mean anything.

In a way, it's related to Searle's Chinese room argument that a bunch of rules translating from one language to another does not result in any sort of understanding. Language must be grounded in the world, or it's without meaning.

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Re: The metaphysical implications of disquotationalism

Post by Blueswing on Sat Oct 24, 2015 2:06 pm

Marchesk wrote:Disquotationalism implies that language can be about things non-linguistic, otherwise what's the point in disquoting?

Spell this out for me please?

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Re: The metaphysical implications of disquotationalism

Post by Marchesk on Sun Oct 25, 2015 12:08 pm

Blueswing wrote:
Marchesk wrote:Disquotationalism implies that language can be about things non-linguistic, otherwise what's the point in disquoting?

Spell this out for me please?

The 'chair exists' is true if an only if you can do things like sit in it, bash people over the head with it, burn it, etc. I can't think of a better way to put it. We're able to talk about things which aren't artifacts of language, and we can make note of this by using disquotation.

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