Assessment-Sensitivity: the Manifestation Challenge



Wright C (2016) Assessment-Sensitivity: the Manifestation Challenge. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 92 (1), pp. 189-196.

First paragraph: MacFarlane's core project in his deep-reaching, superbly crafted book is the defence of the claim that there is a theoretically respectable, interesting, useful species of relativism about truth—the species he captions by the term,assessment-sensitivity. Assessment-sensitivity contrasts, however, with classic truth relativism—if indeed there is such a thing—in three important respects. First, it is potentially alocalfeature of discourses. MacFarlane, unlike Protagoras, is making no general claim about the metaphysics of truth. So he finesses a broad sweep of traditional concerns about the coherence of truth-relativism, from theTheaetetusonwards, which take it to be a global thesis (so hence, e.g., self-applicable). Second, whereas traditional relative truth is a property of the contents of attitudes, assessment-sensitivity is a characteristic in the first instance of token assertoric utterances—though MacFarlane allows it to apply derivatively to the propositions expressed thereby (which he understands in the usual intuitive way as what are asserted, what are believed, what sustain relations of incompatibility and entailment, and so on).1Finally, MacFarlane's project is harnessed to the task of givingdescriptivelyadequate semantic theories for certain regions of discourse as actually practiced, rather than, at least in the first instance, to any specifically metaphysical controversies. Traditionally, truth-relativism is a player in thenormativedebates about realism and objectivity, one kind of paradigm of anti-realism, alongside and contrasting with non-cognitivism, error-theory, expressivism and the rest—and indeed a paradigm that in the modern (20th century) debates was largely discarded. MacFarlane, as it appears, intends no direct contribution to those debates.

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research: Volume 92, Issue 1

Publication date31/01/2016
Publication date online11/01/2016

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Professor Crispin Wright

Professor Crispin Wright

Professor, Philosophy