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I Wasn’t Talking about That

I Wasn’t Talking about That

Chapter:
(p.7) 1 I Wasn’t Talking about That
Source:
Aboutness
Author(s):
Stephen Yablo
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691144955.003.0002

This chapter argues that partial truth is apt to strike us as sneaky, unclean, the last refuge of a scoundrel. But, whether a statement is partly true, or true in what it says about BLAH, may be all that we want to know. A statement S is partly true insofar as it has wholly true parts: wholly true implications whose subject matter is included in that of S. An account of subject matter will thus be needed, and of the relation (“aboutness”) that sentences bear to their subject matters, if we want to understand partial truth. Aboutness has been somewhat neglected in philosophy. But not entirely; think of Frege on identity, Kripke on counterparts, van Fraassen on empirical adequacy, Yalcin on epistemic modals, and Hempel on confirmation. Subject matter will be treated here as an independent factor in meaning, over and above truth-conditional content. Not completely independent, though, for what a sentence is about is tied up with its ways of being true and false.

Keywords:   aboutness, partial truth, subject matter, meaning, truth-conditions

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