Assessment Sensitivity: Relative Truth and its Applications

John MacFarlane
Berkeley Book Chats
MacFarlane's book cover
Wednesday, Mar 16, 2016 | 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall
United States

Professor of Philosophy John MacFarlane specializes in the philosophy of language, philosophical logic, and related issues in metaphysics and epistemology. His book, Assessment Sensitivity: Relative Truth and Its Applications (Oxford, 2014) debates how we might make sense of the idea that truth is relative, and how we might use this idea to give satisfying accounts of parts of our thought and talk that have resisted traditional methods of analysis.

Although there is a substantial philosophical literature on relativism about truth, going back to Plato's Theaetetus, this literature (both pro and con) has focused on refutations of the doctrine, or refutations of these refutations, at the expense of saying clearly what the doctrine is. In contrast, Assessment Sensitivity begins with a clear account of what it is to be a relativist about truth, and uses this view to give satisfying accounts of what we mean when we talk about what is tasty, what we know, what will happen, what might be the case, and what we ought to do. The book seeks to provide a richer framework for the description of linguistic practices than standard truth-conditional semantics affords.

After an introduction by Hannah Ginsborg (Philosophy), Professor MacFarlane will speak briefly about his work and then open the floor for discussion.