Prof. Cezary Cieśliński – FNP Prize laureate 2021
Professor Cezary Cieślinski of the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Warsaw has received the 2021 FNP Prize in humanities and social sciences for solving the key problems of the deflationary theory of truth.
Cezary Cieślinski was born in 1965 in Warsaw. In 1999, he received a Ph.D. degree in philosophy from the University of Warsaw. In 2010, he received habilitation from the same university, in recognition of his work entitled “Deflacyjna koncepcja prawdy. Wybrane zagadnienia logiczne” (Deflationary Concept of Truth: Selected Logical Issues.” He received full professorship in 2021. Professor Cezary Cieślinski’s scholarly interests include mathematical and philosophical logic, theory of models, theory of truth, and philosophy of language.
He is currently Head of the Department of Logic at the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Warsaw. There, he is also a member of the Scientific Council in Philosophy. He is implementing two grants of the National Science Centre: “Truth Theories and Their Strength” and “Epistemic and Semantic Commitments of Foundational Theories” (in collaboration with Professor Ali Enayat from the University of Gothenburg).
He supervised three doctoral theses and authored two monographs and dozens of articles in journals such as the Journal of Philosophical Logic and Mind.
In 2019, Cieśliński received the Tadeusz Kotarbinski Scientific Award of the First Faculty of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Philosophy and the Jan Łukasiewicz Award of the Polish Association for Logic and Philosophy of Science, both for his monograph on the deflationary theory of truth, The Epistemic Lightness of Truth.
Professor Cezary Cieślinski is one of the world’s leading specialists in research on the theory of truth. The Foundation for Polish Science recognized him for solving the key problems of the deflationary theory of truth, whose proponents argue against the multitude of various definitions of truth.
Philosophers have been working on the definition of truth since antiquity. The creator of the classical definition of truth was Aristotle. According to this theory, truth is the conformity of judgment with the actual state of affairs to which the judgment refers. It remains difficult to grasp the concept of truth even today, and many definitions of truth emerged over the centuries.
In his works, Cezary Cieślinski refers to the tradition of the Lwów–Warsaw school of logic and philosophy, whose beginnings date back to the end of the nineteenth century. This school includes the logician, mathematician, and philosopher Alfred Tarski, who strove to create a formally precise notion of truth. He defined it as a certain property of logical sentences. This enabled the development of research into logic and the philosophy of mathematics, among other things.
Following Tarski’s views, the advocates of the deflationary theory of truth believe that the diverse conceptions of truth – both the ancient and the more modern ones (e.g. classical, non-classical, coherence, pragmatic, realist, anti-realist, epistemic) differ only in small details – which are only an unnecessary addition to the concept of truth. Therefore, in their opinion, we should be able to “deflate” these diverse theories by subtracting further unnecessary elements from them. Stripped of redundant details, the theories will satisfy Tarski’s criteria of truth.
Cieślinski has made a groundbreaking contribution to this area, and his award-winning 2017 monograph The Epistemic Lightness of Truth significantly contributes to the development of deflationism. In reference to the title of Cieśliński’s work, we may describe truth as “light.” In keeping with the burden of Cieśliński’s argument: truth is a tool for making generalizations rather than an essential feature of, say, an utterance. The thought expressed by someone does not have to structurally reflect the state of affairs in the world, in order to be true.
In his monograph, Cieślinski shows that logic allows for the precise formulation of complex philosophical ideas. This is especially important in the case of complex theories of truth. Professor Cieślinski employs the tools of logic to present a clear and precise formulation of a number of deflationary concepts under consideration. He examines these theories and presents important unobvious conclusions about them.
Moreover, Cieśliński’s book exemplifies a combination of mathematics and philosophy by showing some of Cieślinski’s most mathematically sophisticated works. These concern strategies for solving problems posed in the book and reveal the correctness of the presented theories by means of logic.
Photo: prof. Cezary Cieśliński_fot. Magdalena Wiśniewska-Krasińska_Archiwum FNPBack