Deflating Deflationism

Dissertation, City University of New York (1999)

Bradley Armour-Garb
State University of New York, Albany
In this dissertation, I take a close look at the deflationary theory of truth, and deflationary semantics, generally. My thesis is that, as a theory about the nature and function of the property of truth, deflationism is well supported. However, deflationary semantics, which combines deflationism about truth with deflationism about meaning cannot be argued for by pointing to the expressive function of the truth predicate. ;Having shown that deflationism about meaning cannot be argued for in this way, I develop a challenge to deflationary semantics, the challenge of the contingency of sentential truth conditions. The challenge for the deflationist is to explain the fact that her view assigns the wrong modal properties to "true". As I show, the deflationist does not have the resources either to explain or to explain away this counter-intuitive feature of her view. Since, in addition, the arguments for deflationism do not support the adoption of a deflationary attitude towards meaning, I offer and support what I call propositional deflationism. Propositional deflationism deflates truth for propositions, thereby respecting the deflationist's contentions about the nature and function of truth, without deflating truth for sentences and beliefs. The result is a hybrid view that is deflationist about truth, though not about meaning
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