Donald Davidson's Truth-Theoretic Semantics

Ernest Lepore, Kirk Ludwig

Research output: Book/ReportBook

76 Scopus citations


This book examines the foundations and applications of the program of truth-theoretic semantics for natural languages introduced in 1967 by Donald Davidson in his classic paper 'Truth and Meaning'. Its primary aim is to illustrate the promise of the truth-theoretic approach by laying out the philosophical foundations of it, and then sketching and discussing applications to a range of important natural language constructions. A subsidiary aim is to clarify the concept of the logical form of a natural language sentence. Chapter 1 lays out the philosophical foundations of the program of truth-theoretic semantics. Chapters 2-9 consider a variety of topics in natural language semantics: quantifiers, proper names, demonstratives (including complex demonstratives), and quotation, adverbial and adjectival modification, tense, opaque contexts, and non-declarative sentences, that is, imperatives and interrogatives. These treatments are intended to illustrate the sorts of resources we must invoke within a broadly Davidsonian framework in order to provide a compositional semantic theory and to illustrate the sorts of obstacles naturally encountered and which must be overcome. The book considers, where appropriate, Davidson's own suggestions, but often offers a different or modified account to deal with problems that arise in trying to carry those out. Chapters 13 and 14 turn to more general issues: a characterization of sameness of logical form between any two sentences in any two languages, and the relation of the concept of truth employed in the semantic theory to various theories of it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages368
ISBN (Electronic)9780191710445
ISBN (Print)9780199290932
StatePublished - Jan 11 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


  • Demonstratives
  • Logical form
  • Non-declaratives
  • Opaque contexts
  • Proper names
  • Quantifiers
  • Quotation
  • Tense


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