Language and the World: Correspondence Versus Deflationary Theories of Truth

Dissertation, University of California, Irvine (2002)

Patricia Marino
University of Waterloo
My dissertation concerns theories of truth; in particular, it deals with the debate between those who advocate a robust, correspondence account---truth is correspondence to reality---and those who urge a weak, deflationary one---"truth" isn't a property at all, but merely a logical device. I trace the development of these two extremes, revealing the underlying points of contention, and arguing for a robust theory. A central move in my argument is the articulation of a new correspondence theory, one that dodges traditional objections. It does so by taking scientific uses as paradigmatic, and giving indirect, context-sensitive accounts of language-world relationships, thus turning away from the heavy metaphysics of familiar correspondence theories. I call this the "Physical Correspondence Theory" of truth. I then argue that recent deflationist responses to objections can be read in two ways, giving two brands of deflationism. The first reading yields a "Physical Deflationism," which is just the Physical Correspondence Theory with some different labeling; on the basis of these small differences, I plump for the latter. The second reading yields a "Discourse Deflationism." I show that on this reading, deflationism is more radical, and less plausible, than it has usually seemed. Thus, I distinguish two types of deflationism and conclude that the Physical Correspondence Theory is preferable to both.
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