Truth and goodness : a minimalist study
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Philosophers are often thought to be in the business of analysing concepts, in particular, concepts taken to be fundamental in human thought and practice: truth, goodness, beauty, knowledge, meaning, rightness, causation, to name just a few. But what can we expect from such analyses? Can we expect a comprehensive account of one concept in terms of one or more others? Can we expect to reduce these kinds of concepts to concepts which are taken to be more fundamental? This study is concerned with a particular approach to conceptual analysis, minimalism, which, in general, offers very modest answers to these questions. Minimalist theories, by and large, hold that the strategy for analysing concepts ought not to go much further than the collection of some rather ordinary, ‘platitudinous’ thoughts about those concepts. Accordingly, minimalist theories do not often encourage ambitious pro jects of giving a comprehensive analysis of one concept in terms of another, where this process encourages the construction of such biconditional claims as ‘X falls under concept F iff X falls under concept G’. Just how far we are to extend our analysis beyond the point of a collection of platitudinous principles is a point of contention between different types of minimalist theories. This study has three main aims. Firstly, it aims to give a taxonomy of minimalist theories. Secondly, it aims to examine in detail the types of minimalist theories pertinent to the study of truth, and propose the best view available. Thirdly, it aims to examine how the minimalist methodology may be extended to other normative concepts, taking the concept of goodness as a case study.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: Electronic copy restricted until 16th July 2015
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations
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