One type of deflationism about metaphysical modality suggests that it can be analysed strictly in terms of linguistic or conceptual content and that there is nothing particularly metaphysical about modality. Scott Soames is explicitly opposed to this trend. However, a detailed study of Soames’s own account of modality reveals that it has striking similarities with the deflationary account. In this paper I will compare Soames’s account of a posteriori necessities concerning natural kinds with the deflationary one, specifically Alan Sidelle’s (...) account, and suggest that Soames’s account is vulnerable to the deflatonist’s critique. Furthermore, I conjecture that both the deflationary account and Soames’s account fail to fully explicate the metaphysical content of a posteriori necessities. Although I will focus on Soames, my argument may have more general implications towards the prospects of providing a meaning-based account of metaphysical modality. (shrink)
In this paper I will be concerned with the question as to whether expressivist theories of meaning can coherently be combined with deflationist theories of truth. After outlining what I take expressivism to be and what I take deflationism about truth to be, I’ll explain why I don’t take the general version of this question to be very hard, and why the answer is ‘yes’. Having settled that, I’ll move on to what I take to be a more pressing (...) and interesting version of the question, arising from a prima facie tension between deflationism about truth and the motivations underlying expressivism for what I take to be two of its most promising applications: to indicative conditionals and epistemic modals. Here I’ll argue that the challenge is substantive, but that there is no conceptual obstacle to its being met, provided that one’s expressivism takes the right form. (shrink)
The paper discusses what kind of truth bearer, or truth-ascription, a deflationist should take as primary. I first present number of arguments against a sententialist view. I then present a deflationary theory which takes propositions as primary, and try to show that it deals neatly with a wide range of linguistic data. Next, I consider both the view that there is no primary truth bearer, and the most common account of sentence truth given by deflationists who take propositions as primary, (...) and argue that they both attribute an implausible type of ambiguity to “true”. This can be avoided, however, if truth-ascriptions to sentences are taken as a certain form of pragmatic ellipses. I end by showing how this hypothesis accommodates a number of intuitions involving truth-ascriptions to sentences. (shrink)
I here argue for a particular formulation of truth-deflationism, namely, the propositionally quantified formula, (Q) ”For all p, <p> is true iff p”. The main argument consists of an enumeration of the other (five) possible formulations and criticisms thereof. Notably, Horwich’s Minimal Theory is found objectionable in that it cannot be accepted by finite beings. Other formulations err in not providing non-question-begging, sufficiently direct derivations of the T-schema instances. I end by defending (Q) against various objections. In particular, I (...) argue that certain circularity charges rest on mistaken assumptions about logic that lead to Carroll’s regress. I show how the propositional quantifier can be seen as on a par with first-order quantifiers and so equally acceptable to use. While the proposed parallelism between these quantifiers is controversial in general, deflationists have special reasons to affirm it. I further argue that the main three types of approach the truth-paradoxes are open to an adherent of (Q), and that the derivation of general facts about truth can be explained on its basis. (shrink)
The weak deflationist about truth is committed to two theses: one conceptual, the other ontological. On the conceptual thesis (what might be called a ‘triviality thesis’), the content of the truth predicate is exhausted by its involvement in some version of the ‘truth-schema’. On the ontological thesis, truth is a deflated property of truth bearers. In this paper, I focus on weak deflationism’s ontological thesis, arguing that it generates an instability in its view of truth: the view threatens to (...) collapse into either that of strong deflationism (i.e., truth is not a property) or that of some form of inflationism (i.e., truth is a substantial property). The instability objection to weak deflationism is sketched by way of a truth-property ascription dilemma, the two horns of which its proponent is at pains to circumvent. (shrink)
A line of argument, presented by David Lewis, to show that the correspondence theory of truth is not a real alternative to deflationism is developed. It is shown that truthmakers, construed as concrete events or states of affairs, are unsatisfactory entities, since we do not know how to individuate them or how to identify their essential qualities. Furthermore, the real work is usually done by supervenience relations, which have little to do with truth. It is argued that the Equivalence (...) Schema is quite sufficient to yield a unitary property of being true, and that this generates a weak, but non-trivial, version of the correspondence theory of truth. (shrink)
I define T-schema deflationism as the thesis that a theory of truth for our language can simply take the form of certain instances of Tarski's schema (T). I show that any effective enumeration of these instances will yield as a dividend an effective enumeration of all truths of our language. But that contradicts Gödel's First Incompleteness Theorem. So the instances of (T) constituting the T-Schema deflationist's theory of truth are not effectively enumerable, which casts doubt on the idea that (...) the T-schema deflationist in any sense has a theory of truth. (The argument in section 2 of "Semantics for Deflationists" supercedes this paper.). (shrink)
I here develop a specific version of the deflationary theory of truth. I adopt a terminology on which deflationism holds that an exhaustive account of truth is given by the equivalence between truth-ascriptions and de-nominalised (or disquoted) sentences. An adequate truth-theory, it is argued, must be finite, non-circular, and give a unified account of all occurrences of “true”. I also argue that it must descriptively capture the ordinary meaning of “true”, which is plausibly taken to be unambiguous. Ch. 2 (...) is a critical historical survey of deflationary theories, where notably disquotationalism is found untenable as a descriptive theory of “true”. In Ch. 3, I aim to show that deflationism cannot be finitely and non-circularly formulated by using “true”, and so must only mention it. Hence, it must be a theory specifically about the word “true” (and its foreign counterparts). To capture the ordinary notion, the theory must thus be an empirical, use-theoretic, semantic account of “true”. The task of explaining facts about truth now becomes that of showing that various sentences containing “true” are (unconditionally) assertible. In Ch. 4, I defend the claim (D) that every sentence of the form “That p is true” and the corresponding “p” are intersubstitutable (in a use-theoretic sense), and show how this claim provides a unified and simple account of a wide variety of occurrences of “true”. Disquotationalism then only has the advantage of avoiding propositions. But in Ch. 5, I note that (D) is not committed to propositions. Use-theoretic semantics is then argued to serve nominalism better than truth-theoretic ditto. In particular, it can avoid propositions while sustaining a natural syntactic treatment of “that”-clauses as singular terms and of “Everything he says is true”, as any other quantification. Finally, Horwich’s problem of deriving universal truth-claims is given a solution by recourse to an assertibilist semantics of the universal quantifier. (shrink)
We discuss two desirable properties of deflationary truth theories: conservativeness and maximality. Joining them together, we obtain a notion of a maximal conservative truth theory - a theory which is conservative over its base, but can't be enlarged any further without losing its conservative character. There are indeed such theories; we show however that none of them is axiomatizable, and moreover, that there will be in fact continuum many theories of this sort. It turns out in effect that the deflationist (...) still needs some additional principles, which would permit him to construct his preferred theory of truth. (shrink)
A structural similarity between deflationism and a certain semantically excessive interpretation of the results of cognitive science is developed. Both views incorporate "two-worlds" accounts of the nature of representation. But two-worlds accounts are committed to what I call quasi-technically “the worst possible theory of truth”. This renders the semantically excessive interpretation committed to the worst possible theory of truth; but it renders deflationism internally inconsistent or incoherent.
Deflationism is usually thought to differ from the correspondence theory over whether truth is a substantial property. However, I argue that this notion of a ‘substantial property’ is tendentious. I further argue that the Equivalence Schema alone is sufficient to lead to idealism when combined with a pragmatist theory of truth. Deflationism thus has more powerful metaphysical implications than is generally thought and itself amounts to a kind of correspondence theory.
I will argue that the standard formulation of non-factualism in terms of a denial of truth-aptness is consistent with a version of deflationsim. My line of argument assumes the use conception of meaning. This brings out an interesting consequence since mostly the philosophers who endorse the use conception of meaning, e.g. Paul Horwich, hold that deflationism is inconsistent with the strategy of implementing non-factualism in terms of a denial of truth-aptness and thereby urge a reformulation of non-factualism.
The paper presents an interpretation of Brandom¿s analysis of de re specifying attitude-ascriptions. According to this interpretation, his analysis amounts to a deflationist conception of intentionality. In the first section I sketch the specific role deflationist theories of truth play within the philosophical debate on truth. Then I describe some analogies between the contemporary constellation of competing truth theories and the current confrontation of controversial theories of intentionality. The second section gives a short summary of Brandom¿s analysis of attitude-ascription, focusing (...) on his account of the grammar of de re ascriptions of belief. The third section discusses in detail those aspects of his account from which a deflationist conception of intentionality may be derived, or which at least permit such a conception. In the proposed interpretation of Brandom¿s analysis, the vocabulary expressing the representational directedness of thought and talk does not describe a genuine property of mental states, but has an alternative descriptive function and in addition contains a performative and a metadescriptive element. (shrink)
This paper spells out the positive theory sketched at the end of "Against Stepping Back".): According to deflationists, [p] is true is in some sense equivalent to p. The problem that the semantic paradoxes pose for the deflationist is to explicate this equivalence without relying on a semantics grounded in the sort of real reference relations that a deflationist thinks do not exist. More generally, the deflationist is challenged to give an account of logical validity that does not force us (...) to countenance such relations. (The usual model-theoretic definition seems to presuppose that there is some special interpretation, the intended interpretation, such that truth simpliciter is truth on that intended interpretation. So if the deflationist adopts this sort of definition, the deflationist will be challenged to identify the intended interpretation without positing real reference relations.) Fortunately, a precise semantics compatible with the deflationist philosophy can be had as follows: First, we define a context as a certain sort of set constructed from a basis of literals (atomic sentences and negations of atomic sentences). This formal account of contexts has to be supplemented with an account of the conditions under which a structure satisfying the formal definition is the structure of that kind pertinent ot a given conversation. For each syntactic type of sentence, we define the conditions under which a sentence of that type is assertible relative to a context. In particular, we define the conditions under which sentences of the form " [p] is true" are assertible in a context, and we define the conditions under which sentences of the form "[p] is assertible in context G" are assertible in a context. Finally, logical validity is defined as preservation of assertibility in a context. It is demonstrated that this approach to semantics resists the semantic paradoxes. (shrink)
Over the last three decades, truth-condition theories have earned a central place in the study of linguistic meaning. But their honored position faces a threat from recent deflationism or minimalism about truth. It is thought that the appeal to truth-conditions in a theory of meaning is incompatible with deflationism about truth, and so the growing popularity of deflationism threatens truth-condition theories of meaning.
A common objection against deflationism is that it cannot account for the fact that truth depends on reality. Consider the question ‘On what does the truth of the proposition that snow is white depend?’ An obvious answer is that it depends on whether snow is white. Now, consider what answer, if any, a deflationist can offer. The problem is as follows. A typical deflationary analysis of truth consists of biconditionals of the form ‘The proposition that p is true iff (...) p’. Such biconditionals tell us nothing about what the truth of the proposition that p might depend on. Therefore, it seems that a typical deflationist cannot give an answer. Since we know that an answer is available, this throws doubt over the adequacy of deflationism as an account of truth. Articulated here is a defence of deflationism against this objection. It is argued that although biconditionals of the sort mentioned do not explicitly state a dependency between truth and reality, they nevertheless convey one. The reason is that, given the context in which a deflationist invokes the biconditionals, such a dependency is implicated. A potential problem with this defence is that it leaves the deflationist still unable to give an account of what it is for truth to depend on reality. One might think that a deflationist can offer such an account by appealing to truthmaker theory but, it is argued below, truthmaker theory is unavailable to a deflationist. Instead, the deflationist should question the assumption that an account is available. (shrink)
Central to any form of Deflationism concerning truth (hereafter ‘DT’) is the claim that truth has no substantial theoretical role to play. For this reason, DT faces the following immediate challenge: if truth can play no substantial theoretical role then how can we model various prevalent kinds of indeterminacy—such as the indeterminacy exhibited by vague predicates, future contingents, liar sentences, truth-teller sentences, incomplete stipulations, cases of presupposition failure, and such-like? It is too hasty to assume that these phenomena are (...) all to be modelled via some epistemic conception of indeterminacy whereby indeterminacy is just some special species of ignorance which arises because of our limited powers of discrimination. Some non-epistemic model is called for—at least for certain species of indeterminacy. On what is perhaps the most enduring and popular non-epistemic model, indeterminacy gives rise to truth-value gaps. But is DT compatible with the possibility of truth-value gaps? Compatibilism says Yes; Incompatibilism says No. The broad goal of this paper is to defend a form of Incompatibilism. If DT is to make sense of various kinds of indeterminacy then truth-value gaps cannot be invoked to do so. The particular goals of this paper are: (i) To set forth a new form of Compatibilism which can address an argument against truth-value gaps given by Williamson (1994, pp. 187-192). (ii) To offer a new argument against truth-value gaps using principles entailed by DT, thereby undermining Compatibilism. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to present a thought experiment and argument that spells trouble for “radical” deflationism concerning meaning and truth such as that advocated by the staunch nominalist Hartry Field. The thought experiment does not sit well with any view that limits a truth predicate to sentences understood by a given speaker or to sentences in (or translatable into) a given language, unless that language is universal. The scenario in question concerns sentences that are not understood (...) but are known to be logical consequences of known and understood sentences. Ultimately, the issue turns on the notion of logical consequence that is available to various versions of deflationism. (shrink)
Controversy has arisen of late over the claim that deflationism about truth requires that we explain meaning in terms of something other than truth-conditions. This controversy, it is argued, is due to unclarity as to whether the basic deflationary claim that a sentence and a sentence that attributes truth to it are equivalent in meaning is intended to involve the truth-predicate of the object language for which we develop an account of meaning, or is intended to involve the truth-predicate (...) of the metalanguage in which we develop an account of meaning. The former view is compatible with the truth-conditional theory of meaning for the object language, the latter is incompatible with it. However, the former view is also trivially true; hence we should endorse the claim that any form of deflationism worth being interested in is incompatible with understanding meaning truth-conditionally. (shrink)
Deflationists share a core negative claim, that truth is not a genuine, substantive property. Deflationism can be seen in part as a form of eliminativism: we can eliminate the property of truth from our ontological inventory. This is the distinctive claim of what we will call metaphysical deflationism. But anyone who accepts metaphysical deflationism must still make sense of our pervasive truth talk. What is it we are doing when we call something true, if we are not (...) ascribing a genuine property? What is the meaning of the word "true"? What are its main uses or functions? And how should we understand the concept of truth and the role it plays in both ordinary and philosophical discourse? An acceptable deflationism must supplement the negative metaphysical claim with an account of the word "true" as well as an account of our concept of truth. (shrink)
Abstract: According to deflationism, grasp of the concept of truth consists in nothing more than a disposition to accept a priori (non-paradoxical) instances of the schema:(DS) It is true that p if and only if p.According to contextualism, the same expression with the same meaning might, on different occasions of use, express different propositions bearing different truth-conditions (where this does not result from indexicality and the like). On this view, what is expressed in an utterance depends in a non-negligible (...) way on the circumstances. Charles Travis claims that contextualism shows that ‘deflationism is a mistake’, that truth is a more substantive notion than deflationism allows. In this paper, I examine Travis's arguments in support of this ‘inflationary’ claim and argue that they are unsuccessful. (shrink)
After putting forward his celebrated deflationary theory of truth (Horwich, 1998a), Paul Horwich added a compatible theory of meaning (Horwich, 1998b). I am calling also this latter theory deflationism (although it may be a slightly misleading name in that, as Paul himself notes, his theory of meaning is deflationary more in the sense of being forced by the deflationary theory of truth than of being particularly deflationary in itself). In contrast, what I call inferentialism is the theory of meaning (...) which I am going to advocate here – the view, in a nutshell, that meaning is a matter of inferential role. Various versions of this theory have been defended by Wilfried Sellars, Robert Brandom and a couple of other philosophers including myself. And the thesis I wish to present in this paper – to put it as a provocation right off – is that Paul is an inferentialist led astray. Both deflationism and inferentialism can be seen as elaborations of what can be called the use theory of meaning; for both seem to agree that. (shrink)
Paul Horwich aims to apply some the lessons of deflationism about truth to the debate about the nature of a theory of meaning. Having pacified the philosophical debate about truth to his satisfaction, he wants to use a bridge between truth and meaning to extend the same peace−making techniques into new territory. His goal is to make the debate about meaning more hospitable for an account based on use, by showing that certain apparent obstacles to such a theory are (...) illusory, given deflationism about truth. (shrink)
Some deflationists about truth maintain that such deflationism undercuts truth-condition theories of meaning. We offer a deductive argument designed to show that meaning must at least include truth-condition. Deflationist replies are considered and rebutted. We conclude that either deflationism is false or it is not, after all, incompatible with truth-condition theories of meaning.
There are three general ways to approach reconciliation: from the side of nonfactualism, from the side of deflationism, or from both sides at once. To approach reconciliation from a given side, as I will use the expression, just means to attend in the first instance to the details of that side’s position. (It will be important to keep in mind that the success of an approach from one side may ultimately require concessions from the other side.) The only attempts (...) at reconciliation in the literature of which I am aware fall in to the first of these three categories. Such writers argue that the tension between our –isms can be resolved by paying sufficiently close attention to the nature of nonfactualism. While I have nothing against this approach in principle, I do have reservations about the particular proposals that have been made in its pursuit. The first section of the present paper briefly develops a line of objection against one such proposal, in order to motivate the approach to reconciliation from the side of deflationism. In section two, I argue that the deflationist can and should reject the inference from (2) to (3) above. Section three addresses a special problem of reconciliation for the nonfactu- alist who continues to use the discourse she takes to be factually defective. By paying close attention to the details of deflationism about reference, I show how a deflationist about truth might avoid this problem. I conclude that deflationism can be developed in a way that renders it compatible with nonfactualism. (shrink)
In 1999, Jeffrey Ketland published a paper which posed a series of technical problems for deflationary theories of truth. Ketland argued that deflationism is incompatible with standard mathematical formalizations of truth, and he claimed that alternate deflationary formalizations are unable to explain some central uses of the truth predicate in mathematics. He also used Beth’s definability theorem to argue that, contrary to deflationists’ claims, the T-schema cannot provide an ‘implicit definition’ of truth. In this article, I want to challenge (...) this final argument. Whatever other faults deflationism may have, the T-schema does provide an implicit definition of the truth predicate. Or so, at any rate, I shall argue. (shrink)
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.
Whether or not deflationism is compatible with truth-conditional theories of meaning has often been discussed in very broad terms. This paper only focuses on Davidsonian semantics and Brandom's anaphoric deflationism and defends the claim that these are perfectly compatible. Critics of this view have voiced several objections, the most prominent of which claims that it involves an unacceptable form of circularity. The paper discusses how this general objection applies to the case of anaphoric deflationism and Davidsonian semantics (...) and evaluates different ways of responding to it (Williams 1999, Horisk 2008 and Lance 1997). Then, three further objections to the compatibility of these theories are assessed and eventually dismissed (Horisk 2007, Patterson 2005 and Collins 2002). It is shown how these considerations shed light on core issues of the debate. (shrink)
In this article I examine several issues concerning reliabilism and deflationism. I critique Alvin Goldman's account of the key differences between correspondence and deflationary theories and his claim that reliabilism can be combined only with those truth theories that maintain a commitment to truthmakers. I then consider how reliability could be analysed from a deflationary perspective and show that deflationism is compatible with reliabilism. I close with a discussion of whether a deflationary theory of knowledge is possible.
Any (1-)consistent and sufficiently strong system of first-order formal arithmetic fails to decide some independent Gödel sentence. We examine consistent first-order extensions of such systems. Our purpose is to discover what is minimally required by way of such extension in order to be able to prove the Gödel sentence in a nontrivial fashion. The extended methods of formal proof must capture the essentials of the so-called 'semantical argument' for the truth of the Gödel sentence. We are concerned to show that (...) the deflationist has at his disposal such extended methods--methods which make no use or mention of a truth-predicate. (edited). (shrink)
This paper argues, in response to Huw Price, that deflationism has the resources to account for the normativity of truth. The discussion centers on a principle of hyper-objective assertibility, that one is incorrect to assert that p if not-p. If this principle doesn't state a fact about truth, it neednt be explained by deflationists. If it does,, it can be explained.
On an expressivist view, ethical claims are not fact stating; instead they serve the alternative function of expressing our feelings, attitudes and values. On a deflationary view, truth is not a property with a nature to be analyzed, but merely a grammatical device to aid us in endorsing sentences. Views on the relationship between expressivism and deflationism vary widely: they are compatible; they are incompatible; they are a natural pair; they doom one another. Here I explain some of these (...) views, extract some necessary distinctions, and put these to use for understanding expressivism. I argue that contrary to the opinions of some, deflationism doesnt help with problems of objectivity, knowledge and reasoning in ethics. I suggest alternative expressivist treatments of these problems, and show how expressivism as a metaethical view must have consequences for our ethical lives and beliefs. In particular it must affect the way we deal with ethical consistencywhen norms or beliefs conflictand ethical incompletenesswhen ethical questions have no right answer. (shrink)
This paper contains a critical discussion of Paul Horwich’s use theory of meaning. Horwich attempts to dissolve the problem of representation through a combination of his theory of meaning and a deflationism about truth. I argue that the dissolution works only if deflationism makes strong and dubious claims about semantic concepts. Horwich offers a specific version of the use theory of meaning. I argue that this version rests on an unacceptable identification: an identification of principles that are fundamental (...) to an explanation of the acceptance of sentences with principles that are fundamental tomeaning. (shrink)
The correspondence theory of truth is often thought to be supported by the intuition that if a proposition (sentence, belief) is true, then something makes it true. I argue that this appearance is illusory and is sustained only by a conflation of two distinct notions of truthmaking, existential and non-existential. Once the conflation is exposed, I maintain, deflationism is seen to be adequate for accommodating truthmaking intuitions.
It is a fundamental intuition about truth that the conditions under which a sentence is true are given by what the sentence asserts. My aim in this paper is to show that this intuition captures the concept of truth completely and correctly. This is conceptual deflationism, for it does not go beyond what is asserted by a sentence in order to define the truth status of that sentence. This paper, hence, is a defense of deflationism as a conceptual (...) account of truth. This defense is developed in four stages. In the first stage I present a distinction between two types of deflationism, conceptual and metaphysical. This is the central stage of the argument and its main conclusion is that conceptual deflationism when joined with the principle of bivalence is inconsistent with metaphysical deflationism, that is, conceptual deflationism together with bivalence entails a non-deflationary metaphysical account of truth. In the second and third stages of the argument I argue that the totality of the Tarskian biconditionals, when interpreted as definitional biconditionals, offers a description of the nature of truth. In the fourth, and final, stage of the argument I advance a positive case for conceptual deflationism. I explain how the revision theory of truth provides this sort of deflationism with its best evidence: a clear demonstration of its consistency and a compelling argument for its material adequacy. (shrink)
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)
(Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 2007) > Another look at Bar-On, Horisk and Lycan’s criticism of deflationism. I claim that their argument turns on a simple confusion about definitions and thereby fails to establish that deflationism somehow requires meaning to be explained in terms of truth conditions.
truth. However, it is not always altogether clear exactly what the essence of deflationism is Ã¢â¬â what theses are constitutive for it. Accordingly, one may distinguish at least four different issues that have been presented, together or separately, as the defining characteristics of deflationism (cf. Halbach 2001): (I) Truth is not a property, or, at least, not a genuine or substantial property. (2) T-sentences govern the meaning of the truth predicate and thus..
I argue that a popular brand of deflationism about truth, disquotationalism, does not adequately account for some central varieties of truth ascription. For example, given Boyle’s Law is “The product of pressure and volume is exactly a constant for an ideal gas”, disquotationalism does not explain why the blind ascription “Boyle’s Law is true” implies that the product of pressure and volume is exactly a constant for an ideal gas, and given Washington said only “Birds sing”, disquotationalism does not (...) explain why the existentially quantified ascription “Something Washington said is true” implies that birds sing. Thus disquotationalism fails to account for all the facts about truth. (shrink)
I clarify how the requirement of conservative extension features in the thinking of various deflationists, and how this relates to another litmus claim, that the truth-predicate stands for a real, substantial property. I discuss how the deflationist can accommodate the result, to which Cieslinski draws attention, that non-conservativeness attends even the generalization that all logical theorems in the language of arithmetic are true. Finally I provide a four-fold categorization of various forms of deflationism, by reference to the two claims (...) of conservativeness and substantiality. This helps to clarify the various possible positions in the deflationism debate. (shrink)
consistent and sufficiently strong system of first-order formal arithmetic fails to decide some independent Gödel sentence. We examine consistent first-order extensions of such systems. Our purpose is to discover what is minimally required by way of such extension in order to be able to prove the Gödel sentence in a non-trivial fashion. The extended methods of formal proof must capture the essentials of the so-called ‘semantical argument’ for the truth of the Gödel sentence. We are concerned to show that the (...) deflationist has at his disposal such extended methods—methods which make no use or mention of a truth-predicate. This consideration leads us to reassess arguments recently advanced—one by Shapiro and another by Ketland—against the deflationist's account of truth. Their main point of agreement is this: they both adduce the Gödel phenomena as motivating a ‘thick’ notion of truth, rather than the deflationist's ‘thin’ notion. But the so-called ‘semantical argument’, which appears to involve a ‘thick’ notion of truth, does not really have to be semantical at all. It is, rather, a reflective argument. And the reflections upon a system that are contained therein are deflationarily licit, expressible without explicit use or mention of a truth-predicate. Thus it would appear that this anti-deflationist objection fails to establish that there has to be more to truth than mere conformity to the disquotational T-schema. (shrink)
It is argued that just as the deflationist programme in the theory of truth has been a fruitful research programme, so a similar deflationist programme should be instituted in the theory of knowledge. Three possible deflationist positions are developed and assessed in this regard—Crispin Sartwell’s view that knowledge is merely true belief, Richard Foley’s contention that knowledge is merely true belief plus other true beliefs, and the radical version of subject contextualism put forward by Michael Williams. It is argued that (...) the key elements of the positions advocated by Foley and Williams can be combined in such a way as to form a plausible deflationist theory of knowledge. (shrink)
Some philosophers argue that we should be deflationists about meaning. Such deflationism is an interesting new position in the debate about meaning. However, though deflationism about meaning has some attractive features, it will not be successful in giving an adequate account of meaning. The theory is intended to the deflationary in the sense that it is parallel to, and justified by, deflationism about truth. I show, focusing on Paul Horwich's recent very detailed notion of semantic deflationism, (...) that it is not particularly parallel to deflationism about truth, and neither is it in any adequate sense justified by deflationism about truth. (shrink)
I argue that deflationism about truth does not imply minimalism about truthaptness. The condition for truth-aptness can be strengthened and the disquotationalschema restricted without resorting to any inflationary conception of truth-theoretic notions.
Deflationists about truth typically deny that truth is a causal-explanatory property. However, the now familiar 'success argument' attempts to show that truth plays an important causal-explanatory role in explanations of practical success. Deflationists have standardly responded that the truth predicate appears in such explanations merely as a logical device, and that therefore truth has not been shown to play a causal-explanatory role. I argue that if we accept Jackson and Pettit's account of causal explanations, the standard deflationist response is inconsistent, (...) for on this account even logical properties can be causally explanatory. Therefore the deflationist should remain neutral as to whether truth is a causal-explanatory property, and focus instead on the claim that truth, if it is a property, is a merely logical one. (shrink)
Fictionalism has long presented an attractive alternative to both heavy-duty realist and simple eliminativist views about entities such as properties, propositions, numbers, and possible worlds. More recently, a different alternative to these traditional views has been gaining popularity: a form of deflationism that holds that trivial arguments may lead us from uncontroversial premisses to conclude that the relevant entities exist — but where commitment to the entities is a trivial consequence of other claims we accept, not a posit to (...) explain what makes the relevant claims true. The deflationist’s trivial arguments, however, have been attacked by fictionalists, who suggest that the ontological conclusions we get from these arguments should not be taken as serious ontological assertions at all, but rather as implicitly in the context of a fiction or simulation. This paper examines the fictionalist’s criticisms of ‘easy’ arguments for numbers, properties, and other entities, and concludes that they beg the question against the deflationist and so do not undermine the deflationist’s position. Close attention to the argument also reveals a crucial disanalogy between overtly fictional discourse and discourse about numbers, properties, and so on, which undermines the case for fictionalism. Finally, I argue that the motivations for fictionalism (particularly those based in its ability to offer a good account of the discourse) are served as well or better by deflationism. Overall, this gives us reason to think that deflationism may provide a preferable approach for those looking for an alternative to both traditional realism and traditional eliminativism. (shrink)
The deflationary theory of truth for propositions aims to explain everything that needs to be explained about truth of propositions by reference to the propositional truth schema, _it is true that p, _if and only if p. Previous formulations of the theory, e.g., Horwich's _minimalism, have failed to provide adequate explanatory derivations of general facts about truth. Matthew McGrath's _weak deflationism attempts to correct this failure. It is shown that weak deflationism does not provide adequate derivations of general (...) facts about truth. (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)