This essay is a study of ontological commitment, focused on the special case of arithmetical discourse. It tries to get clear about what would be involved in a defense of the claim that arithmetical assertions are ontologically innocent and about why ontological innocence matters. The essay proceeds by questioning traditional assumptions about the connection between the objects that are used to specify the truth-conditions of a sentence, on the one hand, and the objects whose existence is required in order for the truth-conditions thereby specified to be satisfied, on the other. This allows one to set forth an assignment of truth-conditions to arithmetical sentences whereby nothing is required of the world in order for the truth-conditions of a truth of pure arithmetic to be satisfied. The essay then argues that such an assignment can be used to account for the a priori knowability of certain arithmetical truths.
Agustín Rayo; On Specifying Truth-Conditions. The Philosophical Review 1 July 2008; 117 (3): 385–443. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00318108-2008-003
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