2.59 Truth

Category: Logic and Mathematics

Keywords: tarski, liar, snow, truth, paradoxes, falsity, paradox, sentences, sentence, correspondence, semantical, false, schema, true, sen

Number of Articles: 454
Percentage of Total: 1.4%
Rank: 16th

Weighted Number of Articles: 536.8
Percentage of Total: 1.7%
Rank: 8th

Mean Publication Year: 1984.7
Weighted Mean Publication Year: 1978.9
Median Publication Year: 1989
Modal Publication Year: 2002

Topic with Most Overlap: Verification (0.036)
Topic this Overlaps Most With: Vagueness (0.062)
Topic with Least Overlap: Liberal Democracy (0.00024)
Topic this Overlaps Least With: Psychology (0.00083)


Figure 2.135: Truth

Truth Articles in Each Journal

Figure 2.136: Truth Articles in Each Journal


The graphs by journal do not make this look like a particularly big topic, but as you can see from the numbers at the top, it’s the 8th biggest by weighted count. And that’s not surprising - I would have guessed that theories of truth would be a big deal. And so they are, except they aren’t a particularly big part of any journal in any year except for Mind in the early 2000s.

The spike in the late 1900s and early 1910s is due to an interest in theories of truth in pragmatist and voluntarist philosophical theories. Some of these papers involved early contributions from Susan Stebbing, who would go on to contribute many papers to the British journals we’re looking at.

The only one of these 27 articles that is actually in this topic is the earliest of them, a two page note critical of Schiller’s defences of pragmatism. But an interest in how different theories think about truth runs through a lot of her work. And the model picks this up; a lot of these articles are as much about truth as anything else. For instance, her Aristotelian Society article on Bergson (which was extracted from her MA thesis!) cuts across a number of the topics in this model.

Table 2.29: L. S. Stebbing (1913) “The Notion Of Truth In Bergson’s Theory Of Knowledge” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 13:224-256.
Subject Probability
Life and Value 0.2510
Idealism 0.2147
Truth 0.0808
Kant 0.0624
Knowledge 0.0550
Dewey and Pragmatism 0.0505
Other History 0.0397
Methodology of Science 0.0393
Early Modern 0.0280
Ordinary Language 0.0261
Classical Space and Time 0.0259
Promises and Imperatives 0.0251

Unlike almost every other topic with a notable presence in pre-war philosophy, Truth was undergoing a resurgence towards the end of the period I’m looking at. It’s moved from being a metaphysical (or perhaps epistemological) concern to a more distinctively logical one. That is, most of those articles on the right of the graph are about paradoxes, and about how and whether classical logic should be revised to handle them. That’s a somewhat different subject matter to what, say, Stebbing and Schiller were debating, but I think the model got it right in linking them together.

And between them we see a lot of articles on Tarskian and Davidsonian theories of truth. A perhaps surprising result of this is that ‘snow’ is a keyword for the topic. I’m a little surprised that ‘white’ doesn’t come with it.