Scorpios tend to be luckier than Libras

John does not believe in astrology, and therefore does not believe that one's fortune depends on the part of the year during which one is born. So he thinks this proposition is false. But John, wishing to avoid a painful disagreement, expresses himself by saying, 'Well, that may be true for you, but it isn't true for me'.

As we have just seen, where implicit speaker-relativity is involved, the use of such phrases as 'true for you' is perfectly legitimate. But in the astrology case, the use of this phrase is at best misleading. Is this sentence implicitly speaker-relative? Is the sentence about a preference, belief, or other attitude? It certainly does not seem to be. It is like the sentence about La Paz: it purports to state a fact about the respective fortunes of Scorpios and Libras. Someone asserting the sentence about La Paz expresses their belief concerning La Paz, but they are not talking about themselves; they are talking only about La Paz and Bolivia. This is shown by the fact that the truth of what they say depends only on how things are with La Paz and Bolivia; its truth does not depend in any way on the beliefs of the speaker. Likewise, someone asserting the astrology sentence is not saying anything about their own attitudes towards Scorpios and Libras. So when John says, of the astrology sentence, that it might be true for Julie but not for him, he cannot be saying that the sentence is implicitly speaker-relative, and could therefore be true when Julie says it but false when he says it.

What, then, could John reasonably mean by 'true for you' in this context? As we noted, when someone sincerely asserts a declarative sentence, they express a belief. By 'true for you', then, John could simply mean that according to Julie, the sentence is true. That is to say, he could mean simply that Julie believes the proposition expressed by the sentence: that she believes that Scorpios tend to be luckier than Libras. John, of course, denies this very same proposition. So this is a straightforward case of genuine factual disagreement. In suggesting that the sentence is true for Julie and not for himself, all that John is doing is pointing out the fact that he and Julie do disagree: Julie believes, and John disbelieves, the very same proposition. Unfortunately, by using the phrase 'true for you', he makes it sound as if it's a case of implicit speaker-relativity, in which case there is no actual disagreement. Since that is the sort of case where 'true for me' has a legitimate point to it, he makes it sound as if there is no actual disagreement, thus smoothing over his difference with Julie. This is perhaps polite of him, but it is really just an evasion.

With these points in mind concerning 'true-for-me', we can now dispel the myth that all truth is relative. The myth is often expressed by saying that we cannot legitimately speak simply of what is true, but only of what is true for me, or true for you, or more generally true-for-X, where X is some person (or perhaps culture). If this is explained as the claim that all statements are really implicitly speaker-relative, then this seems not to be so, as we have seen: a statement like the one about La Paz just isn't speaker-relative. However, the claim that all truth is truth-for-X might also be understood in accordance with the way that John employed the phrase in his dispute with Julie about astrology. According to this interpretation of 'true-for-X', to say that a proposition is true for X is to say that X believes it. Is it conceivable that all truth is really truth-for-X?

Let us work out the implications of supposing that it is. Consider these two sentences:

The Art Of Astrology

The Art Of Astrology

Get All The Support And Guidance You Need To Be A Success With Astrology. This Book Is One Of The Most Valuable Resources In The World When It Comes To A Look at Principles and Practices.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment