Why Truth Matters for the Study of Religion: A Defense of a Truth-Conditional Semantics

in Method & Theory in the Study of Religion
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?



Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.



Help

Have Institutional Access?



Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?



Connect

Abstract

Truth-conditional semantics holds that the meaning of a linguistic expression is a function of the conditions under which it would be true. This seems to require limiting meaningfulness to linguistic phenomena for which the question of truth or falsity is relevant. Criticisms have been raised that there are vast swatches of meaningful language that are simply not truth-related, with religion representing a particularly rich and prevalent source. I argue that if the concept of truth as used in a truth-conditional semantics is understood in ways other than correspondence to fact, there are suitable reformulations of a truth-conditional semantics that may be appropriate for understanding religion. I further argue that these reformulations offer considerable methodological advantages to the scholar of religion.

Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

Journal of the North American Association for the Study of Religion

Sections

References

Asad, Talal. (1993). Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Austin, J.L. (1962). How to Do Things with Words. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Ayer, A.J. (1936). Language, Truth and Logic. London: V. Gollancz.

Bateson, Gregory. (1956). The message “this is play.” In B. Schaeffner (ed.), Group Processes: Transactions of the Second Conference (Held October 9-12, 195, at Princeton, New Jersey), 145-242. New York: Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation.

Bateson, Gregory. (1972). A theory of play and fantasy. In Steps to an Ecology of Mind, 177-193. New York: Chandler Publishing Company.

Block, Ned. (1987). Advertisement for a semantics for psychology. Midwest Studies In Philosophy 10 (1): 615-678.

Brandom, Robert. (1994). Making It Explicit: Reasoning, Representing, and Discursive Commitment. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.

Brandom, Robert. (1997). From truth to semantics: a path through Making It Explicit. Philosophical Issues 8: 141-154.

Davidson, Donald. (1967 (1984)). Truth and meaning. In Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation, 17-35. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Davidson, Donald. (1973 (1984)). Radical interpretation. In Inquiries into Meaning and Truth, 125-139. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Davidson, Donald. (1974 (1984)-a). Belief and the basis of meaning. In Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation, 141-154. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Davidson, Donald. (1974 (1984)-b). On the very idea of a conceptual scheme. In Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation, 183-198. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Davidson, Donald. (1979 (1984)). Moods and performances. In Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation, 109-121. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Davidson, Donald. (1990). The structure and content of truth. The Journal of Philosophy 87 (6): 279-328.

Davidson, Donald. (1999). Reply to Peter Pagin. In U.M. Zeglen (ed.), Donald Davidson; Truth, Meaning and Knowledge, 72-74. London: Routledge.

Davis, G. Scott. (2012). Believing and Acting: The Pragmatic Turn in Comparative Religion and Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Dummett, Michael. (1981). Frege: Philosophy of Language. London: Duckworth.

Dummett, Michael. (2007). Reply to Lepore and Ludwig. In R.E. Auxier and L.E. Hahn (eds.), The Philosophy of Michael Dummett, 215-228. Chicago, Ill.: Open Court.

Engler, Steven, and Mark Q. Gardiner. (2010). Ten implications of semantic holism for theories of religion. Method & Theory in the Study of Religion 22 (4): 283-292.

Engler, Steven, and Mark Q. Gardiner. (2012). Re-mapping Bateson’s frame. Journal of Ritual Studies 26 (2): 7-20.

Ezcurdia, Maite, and Robert J. Stainton. (2013). The Semantics-Pragmatics Boundary in Philosophy. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press.

Frankenberry, N.K. (2002). Radical Interpretation in Religion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Frankenberry, N.K. (2014). The study of religion after Davidson and Rorty. American Journal of Theology and Philosophy 35 (3): 195-210.

Gardiner, Mark Q. (2015). Semantic holism and methodological constraints in the study of religion. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 79 (3): 281-299.

Gardiner, Mark Q., and Steven Engler. (2012). Semantic holism and the insider-outsider problem. Religious Studies 48 (02): 239-255.

Gardiner, Mark Q., and Steven Engler. (2016). The philosophy and semantics of the cognitive science of religion. Journal for the Cognitive Science of Religion 3 (1): 7-35.

Glüer, Kathrin. (2007). Critical notice: Donald Davidson’s Collected Essays. Dialectica 61 (2): 275-284.

Godlove, Terry F. (1984). In what sense are religions conceptual frameworks? Journal of the American Academy of Religion LII (2): 289-305.

Godlove, Terry F. (1989). Interpretation, reductionism, and belief in God. The Journal of Religion 69 (2): 184-198.

Godlove, Terry F. (2002). “Saving belief: on the new materialism in religious studies.” In N.K. Frankenberry (ed.), Radical Interpretation in Religion, 10-24. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Godlove, Terry F. (2014). Kant and the Meaning of Religion. New York: Columbia University Press.

Hare, R.M. (1964). The Language of Morals. New York: Oxford University Press.

Jensen, Jeppe Sinding. (2009). Explanation and interpretation in the comparative study of religion. Religion 39 (4): 331-339.

Jensen, Jeppe Sinding. (2014). What Is Religion? Durham: Acumen Publishing.

Lewis, David. (1969). Convention: A Philosophical Study. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.

Lewis, David. (1970). General semantics. Synthese 22 (1/2): 18-67.

Lewis, David. (1974). Radical interpretation. Synthese 27 (3/4): 331-344.

McGinn, Colin. (1977). Semantics for nonindicative sentences. Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition 32: 301-311.

Pagin, Peter. (1999). “Radical interpretation and compositional structure.” In U.M. Zeglen (ed.), Donald Davidson; Truth, Meaning and Knowledge, 59-72. London: Routledge.

Penner, Hans H. (1994). Holistic analysis: conjectures and refutations. Journal of the American Academy of Religion 62 (4): 977-996.

Penner, Hans H. (1995). Why does semantics matter to the study of religion? Method & Theory in the Study of Religion 7 (3): 221-249.

Price, Huw, Simon Blackburn, Robert Brandom, Paul Horwich, and Michael Williams. (2013). Expressivism, Pragmatism and Representationalism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Pyysiäinen, Ilkka. (2004). Magic, Miracles, and Religion: A Scientist’s Perspective. Walnut Creek, CA: AltMira Press.

Quine, W.V. (1960). Word and Object. Cambridge MA: Technology Press.

Schilbrack, Kevin. (2002). The study of religious belief after Donald Davidson. Method & Theory in the Study of Religion 14 (3/4): 334-349.

Schilbrack, Kevin. (2014). Philosophy and the Study of Religions; A Manifesto. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Starr, William B. (2014). Mood, force and truth. Protosociology. 31: 160-181.

Vásquez, Manuel A. (2011). More Than Belief: A Materialist Theory of Religion. New York: Oxford University Press.

Wittgenstein, Ludwig. (1953 (1972)). Philosophical Investigations, trans. by G.E.M. Anscombe. Oxford: Blackwell.

Figures

Information

Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 13 13 13
Full Text Views 4 4 4
PDF Downloads 0 0 0
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0