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Filtering Theories of Truth: Compositionality as a Criterion

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The traditional way to filter out the implausible candidate solutions to the semantic paradoxes is to appeal to the so-called “cost/benefit analyses.” Yet it is often tedious and controversial to carry out such analyses in detail. Facing this, it would be helpful for us to rely upon some principles to filter out at least something, if not everything, from them. The proposal in this paper is thereby rather simple: We may use principles of compositionality as a “filter” for this purpose. The paper has four sections. In Section 2, the author uses the filter to examine Kripke’s fixed-point theory and to thereby show how it works. In Section 3, the author gives more examples from the classical theories of truth to demonstrate the power of the filter. In Section 4, the author addresses the skepticism concerning whether there is any consistent or non-trivial theory of truth that can survive this filtering procedure. A “nearly sufficient” condition for a theory of truth to survive this test is discussed in order to show that at least some consistent or non-trivial theories of truth do indeed survive the filtering procedure.


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