VICTR Presents: Pascal Engel, “Is Prenectivism a Realism about Truth?”

Is Prenectivism a Realism about Truth?

Pascal Engel (EHESS) will present at the Virtual International Consortium for Truth Research (VICTR), February 7th at 10:00am EST.

ABSTRACT: According to the prenective theory of truth (Prior 1971, Kunne 2003) “true” is a connective or a sentential adverb, not a predicate, and the form of truth ascriptions is neither ‘P’ is true or nor The proposition that P is true , but [It is true] that P or truly P. It is sometimes called an adverbial conception of truth (Kotarbinski 1961, Williams 1976). It can be combined also with a prenective theory of propositional ascriptions: the logical form of propositional ascription is not

[Rose ] believes [that John is smart]
[Rose] believes that [John is smart]

I first review various objections to the prenective theory: how can it preserve our ordinary
syntactic intuitions? how can it account for “blind” ascriptions of truth such as “Everything
you said is true”? Does it presuppose quantification over propositions? What are its
relationships with a redundantist conception of truth? Trueman’s (2021) version of the prenective theory purports to avoid these difficulties. It is based on the “Fregean realist” view that predicates do not refer to objects, propositions are not objects of propositional content ascriptions and beliefs are not relations between individuals and propositional objects. “Rose believes that Rose is smart” expresses a relation between Rose and a way for the world to be, the way expressed by “John is smart”. On the prenective view, propositions are not the sort of thing that can be true or false, and truth is not a predicate. This leads, according to Trueman, to a version of the identity theory of truth: true propositions are facts, although facts are not objects. This leads, according to Trueman, to a
form of direct realism about belief.

I raise doubts about the claim that the prenective theory thus reformulated can lead to a form of realism about belief. It is not a realist theory of truth either. It is rather, as Trueman recognises, a form of redundantism about truth. Realism about truth and belief have to satisfy much stronger conditions. Truth is not an adverbial modifier of propositions, and facts are not the way the world is.

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