In this book, Bradley Armour-Garb and James A. Woodbridge distinguish various species of fictionalism, locating and defending their own version of philosophical fictionalism. Addressing semantic and philosophical puzzles that arise from ordinary language, they consider such issues as the problem of non-being, plural identity claims, mental-attitude ascriptions, meaning attributions, and truth-talk. They consider 'deflationism about truth', explaining why deflationists should be fictionalists, and show how their philosophical fictionalist account of truth-talk underwrites a dissolution of the Liar Paradox and its kin. (...) They further explore the semantic notions of reference and predicate-satisfaction, showing how philosophical fictionalism can also resolve puzzles that these notions appear to present. Their critical examination of fictionalist approaches in philosophy, together with the development and application of their own brand of philosophical fictionalism, will be of great interest to scholars and upper-level students of philosophy of language, metaphysics, philosophical logic, philosophy of mind, epistemology, and linguistics. (shrink)
Deflationism about truth, what is often simply called “deflationism”, is really not so much a theory of truth in the traditional sense, as it is a different, newer sort of approach to the topic. Traditional theories of truth are part of a philosophical debate about the nature of a supposed property of truth. Philosophers offering such theories often make suggestions like the following: truth consists in correspondence to the facts; truth consists in coherence with a set of beliefs or propositions; (...) truth is what is acceptable in the ideal limit of inquiry. According to deflationists, such suggestions are mistaken, and, moreover, they all share a common mistake. The common mistake is to assume that truth has a nature of the kind that philosophers might find out about and develop theories of. The main idea of the deflationary approach is (a) that all that can be significantly said about truth is exhausted by an account of the role of the expression ‘true’ or of the concept of truth in our talk and thought, and (b) that, by contrast with what traditional views assume, this role is neither metaphysically substantive nor explanatory. For example, according to deflationary accounts, to say that ‘snow is white’ is true, or that it is true that snow is white, is in some sense strongly equivalent to saying simply that snow is white, and this, according to the deflationary approach, is all that can be said significantly about the truth of ‘snow is white’. Philosophers looking for some underlying nature of some truth property that is attributed with the use of the expression ‘true’ are bound to be frustrated, the deflationist says, because they are looking for something that isn’t there. Deflationism comprises a variety of different versions, each of which have gone by different names, including at least the following: disquotationalism, minimalism, prosententialism, the redundancy theory, the disappearance theory, the no-truth theory. There has not always been terminological consensus in the literature about how to use these labels: sometimes they have been used interchangeably; sometimes they have been used to mark distinctions between different developments of the same general approach. The actual variety of deflationary views has not always been clear in discussions of this approach, especially in the earlier literature, where important differences are occasionally missed. To help clear this up, we will use ‘deflationism’ to denote the general approach we want to discuss and reserve other names for specific versions of that approach. (shrink)
Truth-talk exhibits certain features that render it philosophically suspect and motivate a deflationary account. I offer a new formulation of deflationism that explains truth-talk in terms of semantic pretense. This amounts to a fictionalist account of truth-talk but avoids an error-theoretic interpretation and its resulting incoherence. The pretense analysis fits especially well with deflationism’s central commitment, and it handles truth-talk’s unusual features effectively. In particular, this approach suggests an interesting strategy for dealing with the Liar paradox. This version of deflationism (...) has advantages over the formulations currently available in the literature, mainly because it offers a more satisfying account of the generalizing role deflationary views take as truth-talk’s central function. Explaining the notion of truth in terms of pretense generates some special concerns, but none we cannot address through careful consideration of how pretense operates in truth-talk and of the attitudes instances of pretending involve. (shrink)
It is our contention that an ontological commitment to propositions faces a number of problems; so many, in fact, that an attitude of realism towards propositions—understood the usual “platonistic” way, as a kind of mind- and language-independent abstract entity—is ultimately untenable. The particular worries about propositions that marshal parallel problems that Paul Benacerraf has raised for mathematical platonists. At the same time, the utility of “proposition-talk”—indeed, the apparent linguistic commitment evident in our use of 'that'-clauses (in offering explanations and making (...) predictions)—is also in need of explanation. We account for this with a fictionalist analysis of our use of 'that'-clauses. Our account avoids certain problems that arise for the usual error-theoretic versions of fictionalism because we apply the notion of semantic pretense to develop an alternative, pretense-involving, non-error-theoretic, fictionalist account of proposition-talk. (shrink)
In this paper, we do two things. First, we provide some support for adopting a version of the meaningless strategy with respect to the liar paradox, and, second, we extend that strategy, by providing, albeit tentatively, a solution to that paradox—one that is semantic, rather than logical.
Note: This is a "pre-review" version, not the final version that will be published. -/- In “Nothing is True,” Will Gamester defends a form of alethic nihilism that still grants truth-talk a kind of legitimacy: an expressive role that is implemented via a pretense. He argues that this view has all of the strengths of deflationism, while also providing an elegant resolution of the Liar Paradox and its kin. For the alethic nihilist, Liar and related sentences are not true, and (...) that is the end of the story. No contradiction arises because it does not thereby follow that any of these sentences are also true, since nothing is. Gamester concludes that the simplicity of this response to the semantic paradoxes makes alethic nihilism an attractive approach. We disagree. In addition to providing insurmountable obstacles for his form of alethic nihilism, we contend that a certain form of non-nihilist deflationism is better placed to deal with the paradoxes and to account for truth-talk more generally. (shrink)
We argue that if Stephen Yablo (2005) is right that philosophers of mathematics ought to endorse a fictionalist view of number-talk, then there is a compelling reason for deflationists about truth to endorse a fictionalist view of truth-talk. More specifically, our claim will be that, for deflationists about truth, Yablo’s argument for mathematical fictionalism can be employed and mounted as an argument for truth-theoretic fictionalism.
Over the past 25 years, Graham Priest has ably presented and defended dialetheism, the view that certain sentences are properly characterized as true with true negations. Our goal here is neither to quibble with the tenability of true, assertable contradictions nor, really, with the arguments for dialetheism. Rather, we wish to address the dialetheist's treatment of cases of semantic pathology and to pose a worry for dialetheism that has not been adequately considered. The problem that we present seems to have (...) broader bite, afflicting both consistent and inconsistent proposals for resolving semantic pathology. Thus, while our primary goal is to uncover some important connections between dialetheism, semantic pathology, and other, more general issues, the problem that we pose might be a worry for anyone who aims to resolve semantic pathology - consistently or not. (shrink)
In Vagueness and Contradiction (2001), Roy Sorensen defends and extends his epistemic account of vagueness. In the process, he appeals to connections between vagueness and semantic paradox. These appeals come mainly in Chapter 11, where Sorensen offers a solution to what he calls the no-no paradox—a “neglected cousin” of the more famous liar—and attempts to use this solution as a precedent for an epistemic account of the sorites paradox. This strategy is problematic for Sorensen’s project, however, since, as we establish, (...) he fails to resolve the semantic pathology of the no-no paradox. (shrink)
In this paper, we do two things. First, we clarify the notion of deflationism, with special attention to deflationary accounts of truth. Second, we argue that one who endorses a deflationary account of truth (or of semantic notions, generally) should be, or perhaps already is, a pretense theorist regarding truth-talk. In §1 we discuss mathematical fictionalism, where we focus on Yablo’s pretense account of mathematical discourse. §2 briefly introduces the key elements of deflationism and explains deflationism about truth in particular. (...) §3 discusses why deflationary accounts of truth should be construed as pretense accounts and gives a preliminary sketch of a particular pretense account of truth-talk. §4 addresses a main objection to a pretense account, and §5 concludes. (shrink)
Stephen Read has presented an argument for the inconsistency of the concept of validity. We extend Read’s results and show that this inconsistency is but one half of a larger problem. Like the concept of truth, validity is infected with what we call semantic pathology, a condition that actually gives rise to two symptoms: inconsistency and indeterminacy. After sketching the basic ideas behind semantic pathology and explaining how it manifests both symptoms in the concept of truth, we present cases that (...) establish the indeterminacy of validity and that link this indeterminacy with the concept’s inconsistency. Our conclusion is that an adequate treatment of the semantic pathology thus revealed must deal with both of its symptoms. Further, it must extend to the occurrences of this condition elsewhere: in the concept of truth, in the other central semantic notions, and even in certain philosophical concepts outside semantics. (shrink)
In a series of articles, Dan Lopez De Sa and Elia Zardini argue that several theorists have recently employed instances of paradoxical reasoning, while failing to see its problematic nature because it does not immediately (or obviously) yield inconsistency. In contrast, Lopez De Sa and Zardini claim that resultant inconsistency is not a necessary condition for paradoxicality. It is our contention that, even given their broader understanding of paradox, their arguments fail to undermine the instances of reasoning they attack, either (...) because they fail to see everything that is at work in that reasoning, or because they misunderstand what it is that the reasoning aims to show. (shrink)
Semantic pathology is most widely recognized in the liar paradox, where an apparent inconsistency arises in ‘‘liar sentences’’ and their ilk. But the phenomenon of semantic pathology also manifests a sibling symptom—an apparent indeterminacy—which, while not largely discussed (save for the occasional nod to ‘‘truthteller sentences’’), is just as pervasive as, and exactly parallels, the symptom of inconsistency. Moreover, certain ‘‘dual symptom’’ cases, which we call naysayers, exhibit both inconsistency and indeterminacy and also manifest a higher-order indeterminacy between them. In (...) this paper, we explore and lay out the full, broader extent of semantic pathology. We then turn to the best-known attempts to diagnose and treat the phenomenon: consistentist approaches, proposed by Alfred Tarski and Saul Kripke, and an inconsistentist approach, originally presented by Graham Priest and dubbed ‘‘dialetheism’’. We explain the basic elements of each view and argue that each fails to provide an adequate way of dealing with the full extent of semantic pathology. We conclude that a new kind of approach is required and briefly sketch the pretense-based view that we favor. (shrink)
In this paper, we set out what we see as a novel, and very promising, approach to resolving a number of the familiar linguistic puzzles that provide philosophy of language with much of its subject matter. The approach we promote postulates semantic pretense at work where these puzzles arise. We begin by briefly cataloging the relevant dilemmas. Then, after introducing the pretense approach, we indicate how it promises to handle these putatively intractable problems. We then consider a number of objections (...) to pretense views, taking this as an opportunity to provide more detailed explanation of what a pretense account amounts to, what the pretense approach commits us to, and why it is a promising approach in philosophy of language. (shrink)
Recently, several philosophers have proposed fictionalist accounts of truth-talk, as a means for resolving the semantic pathology that the Liar Paradox appears to present. These alethic fictionalists aim to vindicate truth-talk as a kind of as if discourse, while rejecting that the talk attributes any real property of truth. Liggins has recently critically assessed one such proposal, Beall’s constructive methodological deflationist, offering objections to Beall’s proposed alethic fictionalism that potentially generalize to other alethic fictionalist accounts. Liggins further argues that CMD (...) supports a classically consistent response to the Liar Paradox—one that can be extracted from CMD, while leaving its putatively problematic fictionalist elements behind in favor of alethic nihilism. In this paper, after establishing that Liggins’s criticisms of CMD are off base, we show that the classical resolution of the Liar Paradox that he proposes is unworkable. Since his resistance to alethic fictionalism turns out to be unmotivated, we conclude that this approach is still worth considering as a framework for a resolution of the Liar Paradox. (shrink)
We defend deflationism about truth against a pressing challenge, which is to explain how deflationists can understand the role that the _concept_ of truth appears to play in accounts of several other philosophically important concepts. We provide three strategies that deflationists can employ in response to the specific challenge regarding assertion that has been raised in several recent articles, viz., that the truth concept plays an ineliminable explanatory role in an account of assertion. We then show how to extend our (...) strategies to accounts of other central philosophical concepts, by applying them to accounts of belief, knowledge, and logical validity. The result is a set of recipes for deflationists about truth to employ in developing responses to worries that might be raised about the explanatory role of the truth concept. (shrink)
In this paper we explain our pretense account of truth-talk and apply it in a diagnosis and treatment of the Liar Paradox. We begin by assuming that some form of deflationism is the correct approach to the topic of truth. We then briefly motivate the idea that all T-deflationists should endorse a fictionalist view of truth-talk, and, after distinguishing pretense-involving fictionalism (PIF) from error- theoretic fictionalism (ETF), explain the merits of the former over the latter. After presenting the basic framework (...) of our PIF account of truth-talk, we demonstrate a few advantages it offers over T-deflationist accounts that do not explicitly acknowledge pretense at work in the discourse. In turning to the Liar Paradox, we explain how the quasi-anaphoric functioning that our account attributes to truth-talk provides a diagnosis of the Liar Paradox (and other instances of semantic pathology) as having no content—in the sense of not specifying any of what we call M-conditions. At the same time, however, we vindicate the intuition that we can understand liar sentences, thereby avoiding one standard objection to “meaningless strategy” responses to the Liar Paradox. With this diagnosis in place, we then, by way of treatment, introduce a new predicate, ‘semantically defective’, and show how the explanation we give for its application allows for a consistent, yet revenge-immune, (dis)solution of the Liar Paradox, and semantic pathology generally. (shrink)
In this paper, we show how an internal tension in Wilfrid Sellars’s understanding of truth, as well as an external tension in his account of meaning attribution, can be resolved while adhering to a Sellarsian spirit, by appealing to the particular fictionalist accounts of truth-talk and proposition-talk that we have developed elsewhere.
Our linguistic and inferential practices are said to implicate a kind of abstract object playing various roles traditionally attributed to propositions, and our predictive and explanatory success with this ‘‘proposition-talk’’ is held to underwrite a realistic interpretation of it. However, these very same practices pull us in different directions regarding the nature of propositions, frustrating the development of an adequate unified theory of them. I explain how one could retain proposition-talk, and the advantages of interpreting it as being purportedly about (...) propositions, even if problems about the identity conditions for propositions motivated a Quinean rejection of them. The non-error-theoretic solution is to understand proposition-talk in terms of semantic pretense. On this approach, talking as if there were propositions lets us put readily available logical and linguistic devices to new expressive purposes, providing a way to make indirectly certain complicated, genuinely true assertions we cannot make directly. Proposition-talk thus extends the expressive capacity of a language in a logico-syntactically conservative way. (shrink)
Alethic pluralists often claim that accommodating certain alethic platitudes motivates rejecting deflationism in favour of a pluralist inflationism about truth. Deflationists claim that the logical role of the truth predicate, viz providing something equivalent to variables for sentence-in-use positions and quantifiers governing them, is sufficient to account for the appeal to truth in the alethic platitudes. Surprisingly, however, most deflationists face an insufficiently acknowledged problem with respect to explaining how this mode of generalizing works. The standard substitutional or higher-order interpretations (...) of sentential quantifiers and variables do not meet two desiderata that we claim any adequate account of them must satisfy. To address this issue, we review and extend A. N. Prior's adverbial understanding of sentential quantification, explain how it satisfies the desiderata, and respond to some objections. This shows that deflationists can accommodate and account for the alethic platitudes by applying this non-nominal understanding of generalizing on sentence positions. (shrink)
The aim of this chapter is to explain, motivate, and provide the central details of a specific version of what has come to be called alethic fictionalism—namely, a fictionalist account of truth (or, more accurately, of truth-talk, that fragment of discourse that involves the truth-predicate and other alethic-locutions). Our particular brand of alethic fictionalism is sometimes described as a “pretense theory of truth,” and a catchphrase for our view is “truth is a pretense.” But a more precise label for the (...) view that we will present is “semantic pretense-involving fictionalism about truth-talk.” Our endorsement of this view (for short, our SPIF account) stems from our belief that deflationism is the right approach to take on the topic of truth. This already shifts the focus away from any property of truth, since deflationism “about truth” (or, as we will call this view, T-deflationism) is best understood as an approach to analyzing truth-talk. We arrive specifically at our SPIF account of truth-talk because we also think that versions of T-deflationism should be understood as a kind of fictionalism (which, again, puts the focus on discourse, rather than metaphysics) and because we maintain that a SPIF account is the best variety of fictionalism to apply specifically to truth-talk. We will explain some of our reasons for holding these beliefs below, laying out the basics of our SPIF account of truth-talk and highlighting the merits of endorsing our particular account of that talk. (shrink)