This article, after briefly discussing Alfred Tarski's influential theory of truth, turns to a more recent theory of truth, a deflationary, or minimalist, theory. One of the chief elements of a deflationary, or minimalist, theory of truth is that it replaces the question of what truth is with the question of what “true” does. After setting out the central features of the minimalist theory of truth, the article explains the motivation for opting for such a position. In addition, it provides (...) some reasons for thinking that such a theory of truth is “minimal” or “deflationary” in the way that contemporary truth theorists have claimed it to be. (shrink)
We argue that if Stephen Yablo (2005) is right that philosophers of mathematics ought to endorse a fictionalist view of number-talk, then there is a compelling reason for deflationists about truth to endorse a fictionalist view of truth-talk. More specifically, our claim will be that, for deflationists about truth, Yablo’s argument for mathematical fictionalism can be employed and mounted as an argument for truth-theoretic fictionalism.
In this paper, we do two things. First, we provide some support for adopting a version of the meaningless strategy with respect to the liar paradox, and, second, we extend that strategy, by providing, albeit tentatively, a solution to that paradox—one that is semantic, rather than logical.
In this article, I provide a general account of deflationism. After doing so, I turn to truth-defla- tionism, where, after first describing some of the species, I highlight some challenges for those who wish to adopt it.
This article reveals a tension between a fairly standard response to "liar sentences," of which -/- (L) Sentence (L) -/- is not true is an instance, and some features of our natural language determiners (e.g., 'every,' 'some,' 'no,' etc.) that have been established by formal linguists. The fairly standard response to liar sentences, which has been voiced by a number of philosophers who work directly on the Liar paradox (e.g., Parsons , Kripke , Burge , Goldstein [1985, 2009], Gaifman [1992, (...) 2000]), Glanzberg , Azzouni , and others), but can also be heard from philosophers who do not work directly on that paradox, is that liar sentences do not express propositions. Call this the "No Proposition View" (hereafter NPV). Evidently, the belief that liar sentences do not express propositions is a deeply held intuition. As the previously mentioned tension will reveal, there is reason to worry about whether this deeply held intuition can be sustained. (shrink)
Semantic pathology is most widely recognized in the liar paradox, where an apparent inconsistency arises in ‘‘liar sentences’’ and their ilk. But the phenomenon of semantic pathology also manifests a sibling symptom—an apparent indeterminacy—which, while not largely discussed (save for the occasional nod to ‘‘truthteller sentences’’), is just as pervasive as, and exactly parallels, the symptom of inconsistency. Moreover, certain ‘‘dual symptom’’ cases, which we call naysayers, exhibit both inconsistency and indeterminacy and also manifest a higher-order indeterminacy between them. In (...) this paper, we explore and lay out the full, broader extent of semantic pathology. We then turn to the best-known attempts to diagnose and treat the phenomenon: consistentist approaches, proposed by Alfred Tarski and Saul Kripke, and an inconsistentist approach, originally presented by Graham Priest and dubbed ‘‘dialetheism’’. We explain the basic elements of each view and argue that each fails to provide an adequate way of dealing with the full extent of semantic pathology. We conclude that a new kind of approach is required and briefly sketch the pretense-based view that we favor. (shrink)
In this paper, we show how an internal tension in Wilfrid Sellars’s understanding of truth, as well as an external tension in his account of meaning attribution, can be resolved while adhering to a Sellarsian spirit, by appealing to the particular fictionalist accounts of truth-talk and proposition-talk (including meaning-attribution) that we have developed elsewhere.
It is our contention that an ontological commitment to propositions faces a number of problems; so many, in fact, that an attitude of realism towards propositions—understood the usual “platonistic” way, as a kind of mind- and language-independent abstract entity—is ultimately untenable. The particular worries about propositions that marshal parallel problems that Paul Benacerraf has raised for mathematical platonists. At the same time, the utility of “proposition-talk”—indeed, the apparent linguistic commitment evident in our use of 'that'-clauses (in offering explanations and making (...) predictions)—is also in need of explanation. We account for this with a fictionalist analysis of our use of 'that'-clauses. Our account avoids certain problems that arise for the usual error-theoretic versions of fictionalism because we apply the notion of semantic pretense to develop an alternative, pretense-involving, non-error-theoretic, fictionalist account of proposition-talk. (shrink)
In his 2009 Presidential Address to the Aristotelian Society, Simon Blackburn draws an analogy between the deflationist's view of the truth predicate and the quasi-realist's view of the good predicate, one that he has further elaborated elsewhere. The purpose of this note is to establish that Blackburn's analogy fails.
In a series of articles, Dan Lopez De Sa and Elia Zardini argue that several theorists have recently employed instances of paradoxical reasoning, while failing to see its problematic nature because it does not immediately (or obviously) yield inconsistency. In contrast, Lopez De Sa and Zardini claim that resultant inconsistency is not a necessary condition for paradoxicality. It is our contention that, even given their broader understanding of paradox, their arguments fail to undermine the instances of reasoning they attack, either (...) because they fail to see everything that is at work in that reasoning, or because they misunderstand what it is that the reasoning aims to show. (shrink)
In this paper, we do two things. First, we clarify the notion of deflationism, with special attention to deflationary accounts of truth. Seocnd, we argue that one who endorses a deflationary account of truth (or of semantic notions, generally) should be, or perhaps already is, a pretense theorist regarding truth-talk. In §1 we discuss mathematical fictionalism, where we focus on Yablo’s pretense account of mathematical discourse. §2 briefly introduces the key elements of deflationism and explains deflationism about truth in particular. (...) §3 discusses why deflationary accounts of truth should be construed as pretense accounts and gives a preliminary sketch of a particular pretense account of truth-talk. §4 addresses a main objection to a pretense account, and §5 concludes. (shrink)
In this paper, we set out what we see as a novel, and very promising, approach to resolving a number of the familiar linguistic puzzles that provide philosophy of language with much of its subject matter. The approach we promote postulates semantic pretense at work where these puzzles arise. We begin by briefly cataloging the relevant dilemmas. Then, after introducing the pretense approach, we indicate how it promises to handle these putatively intractable problems. We then consider a number of objections (...) to pretense views, taking this as an opportunity to provide more detailed explanation of what a pretense account amounts to, what the pretense approach commits us to, and why it is a promising approach in philosophy of language. (shrink)
Stephen Read has presented an argument for the inconsistency of the concept of validity. We extend Read’s results and show that this inconsistency is but one half of a larger problem. Like the concept of truth, validity is infected with what we call semantic pathology, a condition that actually gives rise to two symptoms: inconsistency and indeterminacy. After sketching the basic ideas behind semantic pathology and explaining how it manifests both symptoms in the concept of truth, we present cases that (...) establish the indeterminacy of validity and that link this indeterminacy with the concept’s inconsistency. Our conclusion is that an adequate treatment of the semantic pathology thus revealed must deal with both of its symptoms. Further, it must extend to the occurrences of this condition elsewhere: in the concept of truth, in the other central semantic notions, and even in certain philosophical concepts outside semantics. (shrink)
In this paper I critically evaluate a number of current "consistent inconsistency theories" and then briefly motivate a rival position. The rival position challenges a consistent inconsistency theory, by sharing many of its basic commitments without suffering the problems that such a theory appears to face.
Over the past 25 years, Graham Priest has ably presented and defended dialetheism, the view that certain sentences are properly characterized as true with true negations. Our goal here is neither to quibble with the tenability of true, assertable contradictions nor, really, with the arguments for dialetheism. Rather, we wish to address the dialetheist's treatment of cases of semantic pathology and to pose a worry for dialetheism that has not been adequately considered. The problem that we present seems to have (...) broader bite, afflicting both consistent and inconsistent proposals for resolving semantic pathology. Thus, while our primary goal is to uncover some important connections between dialetheism, semantic pathology, and other, more general issues, the problem that we pose might be a worry for anyone who aims to resolve semantic pathology - consistently or not. (shrink)
In Vagueness and Contradiction (2001), Roy Sorensen defends and extends his epistemic account of vagueness. In the process, he appeals to connections between vagueness and semantic paradox. These appeals come mainly in Chapter 11, where Sorensen offers a solution to what he calls the no-no paradox—a “neglected cousin” of the more famous liar—and attempts to use this solution as a precedent for an epistemic account of the sorites paradox. This strategy is problematic for Sorensen’s project, however, since, as we establish, (...) he fails to resolve the semantic pathology of the no-no paradox. (shrink)
In defense of the minimalist conception of truth, Paul Horwich(2001) has recently argued that our acceptance of the instances of the schema,`the proposition that p is true if and only if p', suffices to explain our acceptanceof truth generalizations, that is, of general claims formulated using the truth predicate.In this paper, I consider the strategy Horwich develops for explaining our acceptance of truth generalizations. As I show, while perhaps workable on its own, the strategy is in conflictwith his response to (...) the liar paradox. Something must give. I consider and reject variousalternatives and emendations to the strategy. In order to resolve the conflict,I propose an alternative approach to the liar, one that supports Horwich's strategywhile leaving minimalism maximally uncompromised. (shrink)
The Law of Non-Contradiction - that no contradiction can be true - has been a seemingly unassailable dogma since the work of Aristotle, in Book G of the Metaphysics. It is an assumption challenged from a variety of angles in this collection of original papers. Twenty-three of the world's leading experts investigate the 'law', considering arguments for and against it and discussing methodological issues that arise whenever we question the legitimacy of logical principles. The result is a balanced inquiry into (...) a venerable principle of logic, one that raises questions at the very centre of logic itself. The aim of this volume is to present a comprehensive debate about the Law of Non-Contradiction, from discussions as to how the law is to be understood, to reasons for accepting or re-thinking the law, and to issues that raise challenges to the law, such as the Liar Paradox, and a 'dialetheic' resolution of that paradox. The editors contribute an introduction which surveys the issues and serves to frame the debate, and a useful bibliography offering a guide to further reading. This volume will be of interest to anyone working on philosophical logic, and to anyone who has ever wondered about the status of logical laws and about how one might proceed to mount arguments for or against them. (shrink)
We address an issue recently discussed by Graham Priest: whether the very nature of truth (understood as in correspondence theories) rules out true contradictions, and hence whether a correspondence-theoretic notion of truth rules against dialetheism. We argue that, notwithstanding appearances to the contrary, objections from within the correspondence theory do not stand in the way of dialetheism. We close by highlighting, but not attempting to resolve, two further challenges for dialetheism which arise out of familiar philosophical theorizing about truth.
Philosophical work on truth covers two streams of inquiry, one concerning the nature (if any) of truth, the other concerning truth-related paradox, especially the Liar. For the most part these streams have proceeded fairly independently of each other. In his "Deflationary Truth and the Liar" (JPL 28:455-488, 1999) Keith Simmons argues that the two streams bear on one another in an important way; specifically, the Liar poses a greater problem for deflationary conceptions of truth than it does for inflationist conceptions. (...) We agree with Simmons on this point; however, we disagree with his main conclusion. In a nutshell, Simmons' main conclusion is that deflationists can solve the Liar only by compromising deflationism. If Simmons is right, then deflationists cannot solve the Liar paradox. In this paper we argue that, pace Simmons, there is an approach to the Liar that is available to deflationists, namely dialetheism. (shrink)
In his famous Wager, Blaise Pascal attempted to adduce prudential grounds on which to base a belief in God. His argument founders, however, on the notorious 'Many Gods Problem', the problem of selecting among the many equiprobable gods on offer. Lycan and Schlesinger try to treat the Many Gods Problem as a problem of empirical over-determination, attempting to overcome it using methodologies familiar from empirical science. I argue that their strategy fails, but that the Many Gods Problem can be solved (...) (or dissolved) nevertheless. The solution I offer both avoids the problem faced by Lycan and Schlesinger, and does so while respecting the original Pascalian intuitions to a greater extent than any solutions thus far proffered. (shrink)