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Naming, Saying and Structure

ERI Building - Room 149 (1st Floor)
Monday 10 February 2014 (16:15-18:00)

Dr Darragh Byrne (email:

Philosophy Society 2013-2014

Bryan Pickel (University of Edinburgh)

Naming, Saying and Structure


It is commonplace for philosophers to distinguish mere truths from truths that perspicuously represent the world's structure. According to a popular view, the perspicuous truths are supposed to be metaphysically revelatory and to play an important role in the accounts of law-hood, con- firmation, and linguistic interpretation. Yet, there is no consensus about how to characterize this distinction.

I examine strategies such as the one developed in Sider's Writing the Book of the World which purport to explain this distinction in terms of vocabulary: the truths that represent the world perspicuously have better, joint-carving vocabulary. I argue that the distinction between a perspicuous and mere truth concerns both the vocabulary of the sentence and its grammar. I then show that the collective motivations for distinguishing perspicuous from mere truths do not allow them to properly impose constraints on grammar. I conclude by suggesting that the various motivations for introducing the notion of a perspicuous truth might be better treated independently.

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