Truth and the Determination of Content: Variations on Themes from Frege's Logische Untersuchungen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes


In his late writings, Frege was tempted by a minimalist, or deflationary, account of truth. I elaborate a version of minimalism that is consistent with Frege's key insights into the nature of truth. No form of minimalism, though, is consistent with the thesis that a statement's truthconditions determine its sense, so the present theory of truth needs to be supplemented with an alternative account of the determination of content. I argue that Frege was not committed to a truth-conditional account of the determination of content; I then sketch a non-truthconditional theory—called evidentialism—that incorporates insights from his account of Sinn. On this theory, it is the evidence that would fully support an affirmative use of a statement that determines its content. As formulated, however, evidentialism collapses into an anti-realism that Frege would certainly have repudiated. So I conclude by elaborating and recommending a variant theory called bilateral evidentialism. On this view, a statement's content is determined jointly by the evidence that would fully support its affirrmation and the evidence that would fully support its rejection. If bilateral evidentialism is not to collapse into evidentialism simpliciter, one of Frege's claims in “Die Verneinung” needs to be repudiated: rejecting a statement cannot be analysed as accepting its negation.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-48
Number of pages46
JournalGrazer Philosophische Studien
Publication statusPublished - 2011