Truth: The Deflationary Theory Vs. The Semantic Theory

Dissertation, University of Toronto (Canada) (2003)

Authors
Glen Hoffmann
York University
Abstract
In this thesis, I examine the dispute between deflationism and a version of classical inflationism---the semantic conception of truth. I will argue against the deflationary theory of truth and in favour of the semantic conception of truth, the theory of truth outlined and defended by Tarski in his articles "The Concept of Truth in Formalized Languages" and "The Semantic Conception of Truth and the Foundations of Semantics" . I will begin the thesis by arguing against the two main types of deflationism: strong deflationism and weak deflationism. Strong deflationism is the theory of truth according to which the truth-predicate doesn't designate a property: i.e., there is no property of truth. Weak deflationism is the theory of truth according to which the truth-predicate designates a property, but this is a deflated property. I will argue in the first chapter that strong deflationism is a fundamentally unsound theory of truth in that it depends on a dubious thesis, namely, the semantic thesis. I will argue in the second chapter that weak deflationism is a fundamentally incoherent or unstable theory of truth in that its cardinal thesis, i.e., that truth is a deflated property, is confused or non-sensical. In chapter 3 I will advance two arguments in support of the semantic conception of truth: an indirect argument and a direct argument. In chapters 4 and 5, I will attempt to defend the semantic conception of truth against five objections, those that I consider to be the principal objections that have been leveled against it: the triviality objection, the incompleteness objection, the relativity objection, the circularity objection, and Dummett's objection to the truth-conditional theory of meaning. In the end, then, the objective will be to build a strong prima facie case against the deflationary theory of truth and in favour of the semantic conception of truth
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