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When the Inference ‘p is true, therefore p’ Fails: John Buridan on the Evaluation of Propositions

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Chapter Summary

For John Buridan, truth-bearers are assertions. This fact explains why the inference 'p is true, therefore p' may fail. On the one hand, the tense of the verb plus the time of utterance do not determine the time about which a sentence is intended to be true: the intention of the speaker is needed. On the other hand, since the meaning of vocal and written words is conventional, it may seem that they can be used with different meanings on each side of the inference. While the antecedent may talk about a situation different from the present one, this doesn't make it the actual situation of utterance, and the words have meanings only in the actual situation of use. The biconditional 'p is true, if and only if p' is not valid for John Buridan: further conditions must obtain for the inference to be valid.

Keywords: inference; John Buridan; propositions; verb



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