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9. Convention, Role of


Subject Philosophy

Key-Topics science

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631230205.2001.00012.x


The claim that some assertion is true “as a matter of convention” is likely to arise only in the circumstance that the assertion is allowed to be true, though an account of its believability as being warranted by its conformity to observable facts is taken to be inadequate. One important realm where truth is alleged to be truth merely by convention is in the positivist account of the nature of logical truth (see logical positivism; logical empiricism ). If one accepts some logicist reduction of all scientifically respectable a priori truth to the truths of logic, supplemented by the definitions needed to extend logical truth to analytical truth, one still has the problem of accounting for the truth of the truths of logic. The positivist program was to disarm the threat of this last domain of a priori knowledge by alleging that all logical truths themselves merely reflect convention or decision on our part to utilize our terms in a certain way. Thus the correct filling in of the truth table for a simple truth-functional logical connective was allegedly warranted by the merely definitional status of the truth table in “giving the meaning we assigned” to the connective in question. Needless to say, the doctrine that all logical truths are true merely by convention is fraught with problematic aspects. While the anti-conventionalist will freely admit that the adoption of the English ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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