Bilkent University
Department of Computer Engineering


A Performatory Analysis of the Overt Use of the Predicate "True"


Mahmut Burak Þenol
MSc Student
Computer Engineering Department
Bilkent University

The deflationary theory has been one of the most influential theories of truth in contemporary philosophy. This theory holds that there is no property of truth at all, and that occurrences of the predicate “true” in our sentences are redundant, having absolutely no efect on what we express. However, all hypothetical examples used by de?ationary theorists in exemplifying the theory, in papers, books, have been taken out of context. Thus, there is no way to examine and analyze what the predicate adds to the sentence within context. We oppose this theory not on philosophical grounds, but on empirical grounds, with an “ordinary language philosophy” approach. We computationally collect 7610 occurrences of explicit uses of the predicate “true” in the form “it is true that”, from 10 influential periodicals (newspapers and magazines) published in the United States. We classify and annotate these examples with respect to coordinating and subordinating conjunctions’ positions they contain. We investigate contextual relations of the proposition following the phrase “it is true that” with its surrounding propositions. We encounter 34 different syntactical patterns. We propose that in some occurrences of overt uses of the predicate “true”, existence of the predicate makes an emphasis, performs an action in the same manner as a performatory verb does. We provide ordinary language appearances of explicit uses of the predicate “true”, which have been used in linguistically reliable media and constitute pragmatic ‘counter-examples’ to the deflationary theory of truth.


DATE: 19 July, 2013, Friday@ 10:40