Fall 2019 HC 431H: The Language of Truth

Fall 2019-2020

Professor: Eric Pederson

4.00 credits

  • CRN 17111: Monday & Wednesday, 16:00 - 17:50 @ CHA 301

How do know when someone is telling the truth? How do we indicate when we are or are not telling the truth? How do languages vary in their expression of truth statements? These questions have always been relevant to the human condition. In an age of “fake news”, “alternative truths”, and an ever-present blurring between “facts” vs. “opinions” and “beliefs” vs. “knowledge”, these questions seem more relevant than ever.

Far from examining the ontology of truth (a topic perhaps best left to the philosophers), this seminar concerns the *expression* of truth and related concepts in natural spoken and written language.

Topics include: truth conditions, 3-valued logic, the use of paradoxes, oxymorons and tautologies, affirmation, speaker authority, question formation, evidentiality and epistemic certainty; plus the pragmatics of denial, deception, and lying.

This will be a project-based class. Generally, we will spend the second period of each week discussing a topic and then the first period of the following week sharing our investigations within this topic (with a short paper due the following period).