A new approach to Aristotle’s definitions of truth and falsehood in Metaphysics Γ.7 (Christopher Izgin)

The Logic and Metaphysics Workshop will meet on November 14th from 4:15-6:15 (NY time) in-person at the Graduate Center (Room 7314) for a talk by Christopher Izgin (Humboldt University).

Title: A new approach to Aristotle’s definitions of truth and falsehood in Metaphysics Γ.7

Abstract: At Metaphysics Γ.7, 1011b26–7, Aristotle defines truth and falsehood as follows: to assert of what is that it is or of what is not that it is not, is true; to assert of what is that it is not or of what is not that it is, is false. In their attempts to interpret the definitions, scholars usually distinguish between the veridical, 1-place, and 2-place uses of ‘to be’. The dominant view holds that all occurrences of ‘is’ in the definientia are interpreted veridically (Kahn 1966, Kirwan 1993, Crivelli 2004, Kimhi 2018, Szaif 2018). So the first truth condition is interpreted as follows: to assert of what is the case that it is the case, is true. I argue against this and side with those who favor a comprehensive—i.e. a jointly 1- and 2-place—interpretation (Matthen 1983, Wheeler 2011), according to which the first truth condition says: to assert of what is (F, exists) that it is (F, exists), is true. It is an open question how this interpretation makes Aristotle’s definitions sufficiently general so as to accommodate all propositional truth-value bearers. I first show that all Aristotelian propositions are reducible to propositions involving a 1- or 2-place ‘is’ and that formal properties, such as quantity and modality, merely modify the ‘is’, thus lending support to the comprehensive interpretation.

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