Deflationism and Referential Indeterminacy

Philosophical Review 126 (1):43-79 (2017)
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Abstract

This essay argues that deflationism is incompatible with the phenomenon of referential indeterminacy. This puts the deflationist in the difficult position of having to deny the possibility of what otherwise seems like a manifest and theoretically important phenomenon. Section 1 provides background on deflationism. Section 2 considers an intuitive argument by Stephen Leeds to the effect that deflationism precludes RI; the essay argues that this argument does not succeed. The rest of the essay presents its own, distinct argument for the incompatibility of deflationism and RI. Section 3 argues that direct RI—RI that is not simply a derivative of some other, nonreferential instance of indeterminacy—is strictly incompatible with deflationism. Section 4 considers a couple of different ways the deflationist might try to achieve indirect RI—via indeterminate identity and indeterminate synonymy—and argues that each is unsatisfactory.

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David E. Taylor
University of Minnesota

References found in this work

Reason, Truth and History.Hilary Putnam - 1981 - Cambridge University Press.
Metaphysical Dependence: Grounding and Reduction.Gideon Rosen - 2010 - In Bob Hale & Aviv Hoffmann (eds.), Modality: Metaphysics, Logic, and Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 109-135.
Reason, Truth and History.Hilary Putnam - 1981 - Cambridge University Press.
Philosophy of Logic.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1970 - Harvard University Press.

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