© 2009

Substantive Perspectivism

An Essay on Philosophical Concern with Truth


  • Elaborates a new theory of truth that coordinates various reasonable perspectives in a holistic system, based on our basic pre-theoretic understanding of truth

  • Gives a joint account of three closely related major dimensions of the philosophical concern with truth (i.e., its metaphysical, linguistic and explanatory-role dimensions), from a broad vision

  • Engages in the current debate between deflationism and substantivism and is sensitive to recent developments in relevant scholarship

  • The first book in the field to give a systematic cross-tradition exploration of the relationship between Daoist thinking of truth and thinking about truth in analytic philosophy

  • Gives an engaging case analysis of how Tarski’s, Quine’s and Davidson’s and Daoist approaches to truth can jointly contribute and be complementary in a coordinate system


Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 344)

About this book


This book is an inquiry into the philosophical concern with truth as one joint subject in philosophy of language and metaphysics and presents a theory of truth, substantive perspectivism (SP). Emphasizing our basic pre-theoretic understanding of truth (i.e., what is captured by the axiomatic thesis of truth that the nature of truth consists in capturing the way things are), and in the deflationism vs. substantivism debate background, SP argues for the substantive nature of non-linguistic truth and its notion’s indispensable substantive explanatory role, both of which are not only intrinsically beyond what the linguistic function of the truth predicate can tell but are fundamentally related to the raison d’être of the truth predicate. Taking a holistic approach, SP endeavors to do justice to various reasonable perspectives, which are somehow contained in many competing accounts of truth, through a coordinate system: SP interprets such perspectives as distinct but related perspective-elaboration principles that distinctively (regarding distinct dimensions of the truth concern and/or for the sake of distinct purposes) elaborate, but are also unified by, the truth axiom thesis. To look at the issue from a broader vision, the book also takes a cross-tradition approach exploring the relationship between Daoist thinking of truth and thinking about truth in analytic philosophy.

This book will enhance our systematic understanding of the issue through its holistic approach, broaden our vision on the issue via its cross-tradition approach, and enrich the conceptual and explanatory resources in treating the issue. The intended readership consists of researchers and graduate students.


Deflationism Metaphysics Substantive perspectivism Substantivism Truth argue language philosophy philosophy of language reason subject

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophySan Jose State UniversitySan JoseUSA

About the authors

Bo Mou is Professor of Philosophy [effective in May 2009] and Director of the Center for Comparative Philosophy at San Jose State University in California, USA. After receiving B.S. in mathematics, Mou obtained graduate degrees in philosophy from Graduate School, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (M.A.) and from University of Rochester, USA (M.A. and Ph.D.). Mou was President (2002-5) of the International Society for Comparative Studies of Chinese and Western Philosophy (ISCWP). He has published widely in analytic philosophy, Chinese philosophy and comparative philosophy, concerning philosophy of language, metaphysics, philosophical methodology and ethics. His scholarly articles appear in such journals as Synthese, Metaphilosophy, the Southern Journal of Philosophy, Philosophy East & West, Asian Philosophy, the Journal of Chinese Philosophy and Polylog. He is contributing editor of Two Roads to Wisdom? –Chinese and Analytic Philosophical Traditions (Open Court, 2001), Comparative Approaches to Chinese Philosophy (Ashgate, 2003), Davidson’s Philosophy and Chinese Philosophy: Constructive Engagement (Brill, 2006), Searle’s Philosophy and Chinese Philosophy: Constructive Engagement (Brill, 2008), and History of Chinese Philosophy (Routledge, 2009). He is author of Chinese Philosophy A-Z (Edinburgh University Press, 2009) and editor (primary translator) of Truth, Meaning, and Method: Selections from the Philosophical Writings of Donald Davidson (Commercial Press, 2008) (in Chinese). Mou is currently finishing a monograph on reference and predication concerning the relation of language to objects and thought.

Bibliographic information


" "Truth" is applied in so many ways, and in the light of so many philosophies, that one might suspect that no consensus is possible. Mou convinces me that this is false. His discussion brings together accounts of truth from widely divergent sources, and shows how to get them to talk to each other."

Adam Morton (Canada Research Chair in Epistemology and Decision Theory, Department of Philosophy, University of Alberta, Canada)