Deflationism and the Dependence of Truth on Reality

Erkenntnis 75 (1):113-122 (2011)
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
Keywords Philosophy   Epistemology   Ethics   Ontology   Logic   Philosophy
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DOI 10.1007/s10670-011-9277-z
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