David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In Cory D. Wright & Nikolaj Jang Lee Linding Pedersen (eds.), New Waves in Truth. Palgrave Macmillan (2010)
I think it often happens, for various reasons, that philosophers defend radical views which, first, are too radical to be plausible, and second, are such that a less radical and more plausible view would satisfy the underlying motivations. Here is a historical example. The logical positivists famously sought to eliminate traditional metaphysics by arguing that the statements metaphysicians make are meaningless because of being unverifiable. Much of the ensuing discussion concerned whether verifiability is really necessary for meaningfulness. But clearly, even if the logical positivists were wrong about this, they could still have a strong case for the elimination of metaphysics. For already if they could establish that the statements made by metaphysicians are unverifiable. If we cannot obtain good evidence for or against the statements of metaphysics, surely metaphysics is a pointless enterprise. I will argue here that we find another instance of the same general phenomenon in the debate about truth. I think deflationists defend a radical doctrine – and a problematic one – where a less radical doctrine, which I will call (sophisticated) rejectionism, would satisfy the underlying motivations equally well. Roughly, this less radical doctrine is the doctrine that the only use we have for a truth predicate is expressive. What I will do here is to explain what this rejectionist view is, how it differs from deflationism, and how it satisfies the motivations underlying deflationism. I will not actually defend the rejectionist view. In fact, I believe it is false. All I want to argue is that much effort spent on arguing for and against deflationism is better spent arguing for and against rejectionism.
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