One type of deflationism about metaphysical modality suggests that it can be analysed strictly in terms of linguistic or conceptual content and that there is nothing particularly metaphysical about modality. Scott Soames is explicitly opposed to this trend. However, a detailed study of Soames’s own account of modality reveals that it has striking similarities with the deflationary account. In this paper I will compare Soames’s account of a posteriori necessities concerning natural kinds with the deflationary one, specifically Alan Sidelle’s (...) account, and suggest that Soames’s account is vulnerable to the deflationist’s critique. Furthermore, I conjecture that both the deflationary account and Soames’s account fail to fully explicate the metaphysical content of a posteriori necessities. Although I will focus on Soames, my argument may have more general implications towards the prospects of providing a meaning-based account of metaphysical modality. (shrink)
Fictionalism and deflationism are two moderate meta-ontological positions that try to occupy a middle ground between the extremes of heavy-duty realism and hard-line eliminativism. Deflationists believe that the existence of certain entities (e.g.: numbers) can be established by means of ‘easy’ arguments—arguments that, supposedly, rely solely on uncontroversial premises and trivial inferences. Fictionalists, however, find easy arguments unconvincing. Amie Thomasson has recently argued that, in their criticism of easy arguments, fictionalists beg the question against deflationism and that the (...) fictionalist alternative interpretation of easy arguments is untenable. In this paper, I argue that both charges are unsubstantiated. Properly understood, the fictionalist’s objection to ‘easy’ arguments takes the form of a dilemma—either the premises of ‘easy’ arguments are not truly uncontroversial or the inferences on which they rely are not truly trivial. Moreover, I argue not only that, contrary to what Thomasson claims, the fictionalist’s interpretation of easy argument is tenable but that the fictionalist might, in fact, have a better explanation of the seemingly trivial nature of the inferences involved in easy arguments than the deflationist’s. (shrink)
Some philosophers are metaphilosophical deflationists for metasemantic reasons. These theorists take standard philosophical assertions to be defective in some manner. There are various versions of metasemantic metaphilosophical deflationism, but a trap awaits any global version of it: metasemantics itself is a part of philosophy, so in deflating philosophy these theorists have thereby deflated the foundation of their deflationism. The present article discusses this issue and the prospects for an adequate response to the trap. Contrary to most historical responses, (...) the article argues that the best response to the trap is to adopt a local but still pervasive metasemantic deflationism. Such a response might seem ad hoc, but the article argues that the human activity of philosophy isn't a natural kind, and that a heterogeneous metaphilosophy of the appropriate kind is well motivated. (shrink)
Ascriptions of truth give rise to an explanatory asymmetry. For instance, we accept ‘ is true because Rex is barking’ but reject ‘Rex is barking because is true’. Benjamin Schnieder and other philosophers have recently proposed a fresh explanation of this asymmetry : they have suggested that the asymmetry has a conceptual rather than a metaphysical source. The main business of this paper is to assess this proposal, both on its own terms and as an option for deflationists. I offer (...) a pair of objections to the proposal and defend them from counter-objections. To conclude, I discuss how else to explain the asymmetry, and set out the implications for deflationism and correspondence theories of truth. (shrink)
I here defend a theory consisting of four claims about ‘property’ and properties, and argue that they form a coherent whole that can solve various serious problems. The claims are (1): ‘property’ is defined by the principles (PR): ‘F-ness/Being F/etc. is a property of x iff F’ and (PA): ‘F-ness/Being F/etc. is a property’; (2) the function of ‘property’ is to increase the expressive power of English, roughly by mimicking quantification into predicate position; (3) property talk should be understood at (...) face value: apparent commitments are real and our apparently literal use of ‘property’ is really literal; (4) there are no properties. In virtue of (1)–(2), this is a deflationist theory and in virtue of (3)–(4), it is an error theory. (1) is fleshed out as a claim about understanding conditions, and it is argued at length, and by going through a number of examples, that it satisfies a crucial constraint on meaning claims: all facts about ‘property’ can be explained, together with auxiliary facts, on its basis. Once claim (1) has been expanded upon, I argue that the combination of (1)–(3) provides the means for handling several problems: they help giving a happy-face solution to what I call the paradox of abstraction , they form part of a plausible account of the correctness of committive sentences, and, most importantly, they help respond to various indispensability arguments against nominalism. (shrink)
The paper discusses what kind of truth bearer, or truth-ascription, a deflationist should take as primary. I first present number of arguments against a sententialist view. I then present a deflationary theory which takes propositions as primary, and try to show that it deals neatly with a wide range of linguistic data. Next, I consider both the view that there is no primary truth bearer, and the most common account of sentence truth given by deflationists who take propositions as primary, (...) and argue that they both attribute an implausible type of ambiguity to “true”. This can be avoided, however, if truth-ascriptions to sentences are taken as a certain form of pragmatic ellipses. I end by showing how this hypothesis accommodates a number of intuitions involving truth-ascriptions to sentences. (shrink)
I here argue for a particular formulation of truth-deflationism, namely, the propositionally quantified formula, (Q) “For all p, <p> is true iff p”. The main argument consists of an enumeration of the other (five) possible formulations and criticisms thereof. Notably, Horwich’s Minimal Theory is found objectionable in that it cannot be accepted by finite beings. Other formulations err in not providing non-questionbegging, sufficiently direct derivations of the T-schema instances. I end by defending (Q) against various objections. In particular, I (...) argue that certain circularity charges rest on mistaken assumptions about logic that lead to Carroll’s regress. I show how the propositional quantifier can be seen as on a par with first-order quantifiers and so equally acceptable to use. While the proposed parallelism between these quantifiers is controversial in general, deflationists have special reasons to affirm it. I further argue that the main three types of approach the truth-paradoxes are open to an adherent of (Q), and that the derivation of general facts about truth can be explained on its basis. (shrink)
In this paper I will be concerned with the question as to whether expressivist theories of meaning can coherently be combined with deflationist theories of truth. After outlining what I take expressivism to be and what I take deflationism about truth to be, I’ll explain why I don’t take the general version of this question to be very hard, and why the answer is ‘yes’. Having settled that, I’ll move on to what I take to be a more pressing (...) and interesting version of the question, arising from a prima facie tension between deflationism about truth and the motivations underlying expressivism for what I take to be two of its most promising applications: to indicative conditionals and epistemic modals. Here I’ll argue that the challenge is substantive, but that there is no conceptual obstacle to its being met, provided that one’s expressivism takes the right form. (shrink)
I here develop a specific version of the deflationary theory of truth. I adopt a terminology on which deflationism holds that an exhaustive account of truth is given by the equivalence between truth-ascriptions and de-nominalised (or disquoted) sentences. An adequate truth-theory, it is argued, must be finite, non-circular, and give a unified account of all occurrences of “true”. I also argue that it must descriptively capture the ordinary meaning of “true”, which is plausibly taken to be unambiguous. Ch. 2 (...) is a critical historical survey of deflationary theories, where notably disquotationalism is found untenable as a descriptive theory of “true”. In Ch. 3, I aim to show that deflationism cannot be finitely and non-circularly formulated by using “true”, and so must only mention it. Hence, it must be a theory specifically about the word “true” (and its foreign counterparts). To capture the ordinary notion, the theory must thus be an empirical, use-theoretic, semantic account of “true”. The task of explaining facts about truth now becomes that of showing that various sentences containing “true” are (unconditionally) assertible. In Ch. 4, I defend the claim (D) that every sentence of the form “That p is true” and the corresponding “p” are intersubstitutable (in a use-theoretic sense), and show how this claim provides a unified and simple account of a wide variety of occurrences of “true”. Disquotationalism then only has the advantage of avoiding propositions. But in Ch. 5, I note that (D) is not committed to propositions. Use-theoretic semantics is then argued to serve nominalism better than truth-theoretic ditto. In particular, it can avoid propositions while sustaining a natural syntactic treatment of “that”-clauses as singular terms and of “Everything he says is true”, as any other quantification. Finally, Horwich’s problem of deriving universal truth-claims is given a solution by recourse to an assertibilist semantics of the universal quantifier. (shrink)
It is widely held that truth and reference play an indispensable explanatory role in theories of meaning. By contrast, so-called deflationists argue that the functions of these concepts are merely expressive and never explanatory. Robert Brandom has proposed both a variety of deflationism — the anaphoric theory —, and a theory of meaning — inferentialism — which doesn’t rely on truth or reference. He argues that the anaphoric theory counts against his (chiefly referentialist) rivals in the debate on meaning (...) and thereby paves the way for inferentialism. In this paper, I give a friendly reconstruction of anaphoric deflationism (section II) and point to a distinguishing feature of the theory with respect to other deflationist proposals. While Brandom simply assumes, but doesn’t earn this feature, I propose a natural argument to justify it (section III). Then, however, I point out a subtle but clear sense in which truth and reference can play a role in explaining meaning, even if the anaphoric theory holds. Thus, anaphoric deflationism will turn out to be neutral in the debate on meaning (section IV). (shrink)
The weak deflationist about truth is committed to two theses: one conceptual, the other ontological. On the conceptual thesis (what might be called a ‘triviality thesis’), the content of the truth predicate is exhausted by its involvement in some version of the ‘truth-schema’. On the ontological thesis, truth is a deflated property of truth bearers. In this paper, I focus on weak deflationism’s ontological thesis, arguing that it generates an instability in its view of truth: the view threatens to (...) collapse into either that of strong deflationism (i.e., truth is not a property) or that of some form of inflationism (i.e., truth is a substantial property). The instability objection to weak deflationism is sketched by way of a truth-property ascription dilemma, the two horns of which its proponent is at pains to circumvent. (shrink)
We discuss two desirable properties of deflationary truth theories: conservativeness and maximality. Joining them together, we obtain a notion of a maximal conservative truth theory - a theory which is conservative over its base, but can't be enlarged any further without losing its conservative character. There are indeed such theories; we show however that none of them is axiomatizable, and moreover, that there will be in fact continuum many theories of this sort. It turns out in effect that the deflationist (...) still needs some additional principles, which would permit him to construct his preferred theory of truth. (shrink)
Anaphoric deflationism is a kind of prosententialist account of the use of “true.” It holds that “true” is an expressive operator and not a predicate. In particular, “is true” is explained as a “prosentence.” Prosentences are, for sentences, the equivalent of what pronouns are for nouns: As pronouns refer to previously introduced nouns, so prosentences like “that’s true” inherit their semantic content from previously introduced sentences. So, if Jim says, “The candidate is going to win the election,” and Bill (...) replies “that’s true,” the real meaning of Bill’s statement is “It is true that the candidate is going to win the election.” This kind of prosententialist deflationism around the use of “true,” especially in Robert Brandom’s version, is an explanation given in terms of anaphora. The prosentence is an anaphoric dependent of the sentence providing its content. Båve (Philosophical Studies, 145, 297-310. 2009) argued that the anaphoric account is not as general as prosententialists claim, and that the analogy between prosentences and pronouns is explanatorily idle because it does not do any real explanatory work. The two criticisms are connected: The lack of unity within the anaphoric theory can be used to show its poor explanatory value. The plurality of uses of “is true” exceeds the anaphoric account indeed. Therefore, prosententialism is just a superficial re-description and the real work is done by means of more general semantic terms, namely “semantic equivalence and consequence” between “p” and ““p” is true.” I analyze Båve’s arguments and highlight that he fails to acknowledge the importance of a pragmatic and expressive dimension explained by the anaphoric account, a dimension that semantic “equivalence” and “consequence” are not capable of explaining. I then show that the anaphoric account can actually explain semantic equivalence and consequence, and this is crucial because equivalence and consequence do not explain anaphoric dependence. This reverses the allegation of generality: The anaphoric account is more general. Again, the cases typically used to defend prosententialism, if correctly described, show a unitary structure: They are all versions of lazy anaphoric dependence. Therefore, the unifying principle performing the explanation here is lazy anaphora. (shrink)
Whether or not deflationism is compatible with truth-conditional theories of meaning has often been discussed in very broad terms. This paper only focuses on Davidsonian semantics and Brandom's anaphoric deflationism and defends the claim that these are perfectly compatible. Critics of this view have voiced several objections, the most prominent of which claims that it involves an unacceptable form of circularity. The paper discusses how this general objection applies to the case of anaphoric deflationism and Davidsonian semantics (...) and evaluates different ways of responding to it (Williams 1999, Horisk 2008 and Lance 1997). Then, three further objections to the compatibility of these theories are assessed and eventually dismissed (Horisk 2007, Patterson 2005 and Collins 2002). It is shown how these considerations shed light on core issues of the debate. (shrink)
I define T-schema deflationism as the thesis that a theory of truth for our language can simply take the form of certain instances of Tarski's schema (T). I show that any effective enumeration of these instances will yield as a dividend an effective enumeration of all truths of our language. But that contradicts Gödel's First Incompleteness Theorem. So the instances of (T) constituting the T-Schema deflationist's theory of truth are not effectively enumerable, which casts doubt on the idea that (...) the T-schema deflationist in any sense has a theory of truth. (The argument in section 2 of "Semantics for Deflationists" supercedes this paper.). (shrink)
In this article I examine several issues concerning reliabilism and deflationism. I critique Alvin Goldman's account of the key differences between correspondence and deflationary theories and his claim that reliabilism can be combined only with those truth theories that maintain a commitment to truthmakers. I then consider how reliability could be analysed from a deflationary perspective and show that deflationism is compatible with reliabilism. I close with a discussion of whether a deflationary theory of knowledge is possible.
At the end of the nineties some authors (Leon Horsten, Stewart Shapiro and Jeffrey Ketland) worked out a fairly technical argument against deflationary theories of truth. In a nutshell, deflationism, it was argued, is committed to conservativeness by the the claim that truth is not a substantial notion, a conservative theory (under the light of certain logico-mathematical facts) can not be an adequate theory of truth, therefore deflationism is an inadequate theory of truth. Beside the apparent simplicity of (...) this argument, it hides a lot of subtle questions and problems and it is a very sophisticated argument. Deflationists attempted to reply in different ways to the argument but the general impression is that, so far, they have not been able to find a good solution. Deflationism does really seem to be condemned to be an inadequate theory. This work is divided in three main parts. The first part is a very general survey where the study of the notion of truth is introduced. In Chapter One we sketch philosophical theories of truth comparing more traditional approaches to deflationism; we briefly survey the history of deflationism and then we try to find a general characterization of it. In the second Chapter the notion of truth is considered under a formal approach and some important and simple axiomatic theories of truth are sketched. The second part join the philosophical and the formal approach to truth together into the debate over deflationism and conservativeness. In Chapter Three we introduce the notion of conservativeness and we give some example of its application both to logical and to philosophical matters. Then we spell out the argument from conservativeness and we discuss it in order to get a precise requirement that deflationary theories are supposed to satisfy. In Chapter Four we focus on deflationist replies to the argument from conservativeness and we discuss each solution. The third and last part is the core of the work, it consists in a more technical study of some presuppositions of the debate: we want to take a step backward and to compare the two major claims of deflationism - the centrality of T-sentences and the logical function of the truth predicate - with conservativeness. Many of the results used here are due to other logicians and philosophers and are available in literature yet, the originality consists in a critical consideration of such results under the light of the conservativeness of truth. More original reflections can be found in Chapter Seven and in particular in the conclusive Chapter Eight, where the proposal is completely new, at least as far as I know. In Chapter Five we compare T-sentences with the empty base theory and in Chapter Six we analyse in what measure a deflationary theory can be really conservative over a theory of syntax. The result would be quite serious for a deflationist. In Chapter Seven we compare conservativeness with the logical function of the truth predicate. We will get the unpleasant result that the truth predicate is not able to serve the logical function in no sense without loosing conservativeness at the same time. In Chapter Eight we draw some conclusion and we sketch a reformulation of the conservativeness requirement. This new requirement, we will argue, makes justice to the claim of the unsubstantiality of truth and at the same time it does not condemn deflationism to death. In this way, we will be able also to clarify what is the exact role of truth in sentential quantification, showing that this role is really innocent and unsubstantial. The unsubstantiality of deflationary truth, though, will not force deflationism into an inadequate theory of truth. (shrink)
I defend the deflationary theory of truth and reference I have proposed from the objections raised in Vann McGee’s “Thought, Thoughts, and Deflationism,” trying where possible to use arguments that other deflationists might find useful.
A structural similarity between deflationism and a certain semantically excessive interpretation of the results of cognitive science is developed. Both views incorporate "two-worlds" accounts of the nature of representation. But two-worlds accounts are committed to what I call quasi-technically “the worst possible theory of truth”. This renders the semantically excessive interpretation committed to the worst possible theory of truth; but it renders deflationism internally inconsistent or incoherent.
Stephen Stich (1990) has argued that our commitment to truth is parochial, arbitrary, and idiosyncratic. Truth, according to Stich, can be analyzed in terms of reference and predicate satisfaction. If our intuitions about reference can change, this means that our concept of truth can change. If there can be many distinct concepts of truth, our seemingly unreflective commitment to the one we have inherited seems unmotivated. I argue that deflationism about truth possesses sufficient resources to turn back Stich’s skeptical (...) challenge. If, as deflationism claims, no analysis of truth can be given, Stich’s argument cannot succeed. I argue that deflationism is correct by showing that differences in reference do not lead to distinct concepts of truth. I also show that deflationism can clarify what it is we care about when we care about whether our beliefs are true. To care whether p is true is simply to care whether p. (shrink)
A line of argument, presented by David Lewis, to show that the correspondence theory of truth is not a real alternative to deflationism is developed. It is shown that truthmakers, construed as concrete events or states of affairs, are unsatisfactory entities, since we do not know how to individuate them or how to identify their essential qualities. Furthermore, the real work is usually done by supervenience relations, which have little to do with truth. It is argued that the Equivalence (...) Schema is quite sufficient to yield a unitary property of being true, and that this generates a weak, but non-trivial, version of the correspondence theory of truth. (shrink)
Deflationism is usually thought to differ from the correspondence theory over whether truth is a substantial property. However, I argue that this notion of a ‘substantial property’ is tendentious. I further argue that the Equivalence Schema alone is sufficient to lead to idealism when combined with a pragmatist theory of truth. Deflationism thus has more powerful metaphysical implications than is generally thought and itself amounts to a kind of correspondence theory.
The paper presents an interpretation of Brandom¿s analysis of de re specifying attitude-ascriptions. According to this interpretation, his analysis amounts to a deflationist conception of intentionality. In the first section I sketch the specific role deflationist theories of truth play within the philosophical debate on truth. Then I describe some analogies between the contemporary constellation of competing truth theories and the current confrontation of controversial theories of intentionality. The second section gives a short summary of Brandom¿s analysis of attitude-ascription, focusing (...) on his account of the grammar of de re ascriptions of belief. The third section discusses in detail those aspects of his account from which a deflationist conception of intentionality may be derived, or which at least permit such a conception. In the proposed interpretation of Brandom¿s analysis, the vocabulary expressing the representational directedness of thought and talk does not describe a genuine property of mental states, but has an alternative descriptive function and in addition contains a performative and a metadescriptive element. (shrink)
I will argue that the standard formulation of non-factualism in terms of a denial of truth-aptness is consistent with a version of deflationsim. My line of argument assumes the use conception of meaning. This brings out an interesting consequence since mostly the philosophers who endorse the use conception of meaning, e.g. Paul Horwich, hold that deflationism is inconsistent with the strategy of implementing non-factualism in terms of a denial of truth-aptness and thereby urge a reformulation of non-factualism.
In this paper, I explore the connections between meta-ontological and meta-philosophical issues in two of Nāgārjuna’s primary works, the Mūlamadhyamakārikā and the Vigrahavyāvartanī. I argue for an interpretative framework that places Nāgārjuna’s Madhyamaka as a meta- and ultimately non-philosophical evaluation of philosophy. The paper’s primary argument is that an interpretative framework which makes explicit the meta-ontological and meta-philosophical links in Nāgārjuna’s thought is both viable and informative. Following Nāgārjuna, I start my analysis by looking at the positions that exist within (...) the ontological debate and show that the Mādhyamika should be understood as an ontological deflationist who aims to discredit ontological questions altogether. I argue, however, that the Mādhyamika does not wish to engage in meta-ontological debates either and that Nāgārjuna’s ontological deflationist arguments necessarily lead to a position of philosophical deflationism: the rejection of all philosophical and meta-philosophical debates. Further on, I provide a sketch of denegation, the language operator in Madhyamaka that allows Nāgārjuna to make seemingly philosophical claims while not having the commitments that traditional philosophical claims do. I conclude with a defense of my interpretation of Madhyamaka as weak philosophical deflationism compared to other deflationist construals, an explicit discussion of the ways in which my understanding differs from contemporary western interpretations that prima facie resemble weak philosophical deflationism, and an identification of weak philosophical deflationism with dequitism, a variant of quetism. (shrink)
This book analyses and defends the deflationist claim that there is nothing deep about our notion of truth. According to this view, truth is a 'light' and innocent concept, devoid of any essence which could be revealed by scientific inquiry. Cezary Cieśliński considers this claim in light of recent formal results on axiomatic truth theories, which are crucial for understanding and evaluating the philosophical thesis of the innocence of truth. Providing an up-to-date discussion and original perspectives on this central and (...) controversial issue, his book will be important for those with a background in logic who are interested in formal truth theories and in current philosophical debates about the deflationary conception of truth. (shrink)
It is often assumed that deflationist accounts of truth are a product of philosophy of logic and language in the twentieth century. In this paper I show why this assumption is historically short-sighted. An early version of deflationism about truth can already be found in Brentano’s 1889 lecture “On the Concept of Truth.” That Brentano is a precursor of deflationism has gone largely unnoticed because of a different reception of his lecture: according to most scholars, Brentano proposes in (...) it a revision of the correspondence theory of truth that he later rejected in favour of an epistemic theory. Contrary to this received interpretation, I argue that Brentano actually tried to show how one can minimize an account of truth without thereby sacrificing a robust realist intuition about the objectivity of truth. Brentano held on to this deflationist view in his later years, when he assigned self-evident judgments a primary role in our understanding of truth. (shrink)
It's often said that according to deflationary theories of truth, truth is not a ‘substantial’ property. While this is a fine slogan, it is far from transparent what deflationists mean (or ought to mean) in saying that truth is ‘insubstantial’. Focusing so intently upon the concept of truth and the word ‘true’, I argue, deflationists and their critics have been insufficiently attentive to a host of metaphysical complexities that arise for deflationists in connection with the property of truth. My aim (...) is to correct several misunderstandings as to what deflationists are after here—including some harboured by deflationists themselves—and to offer an account of the commitments about truth's nature that they ought to undertake. In developing this account, I focus particularly upon the issue of what metaphysics of truth a Horwichian minimalist ought to adopt. (shrink)
consistent and sufficiently strong system of first-order formal arithmetic fails to decide some independent Gödel sentence. We examine consistent first-order extensions of such systems. Our purpose is to discover what is minimally required by way of such extension in order to be able to prove the Gödel sentence in a non-trivial fashion. The extended methods of formal proof must capture the essentials of the so-called ‘semantical argument’ for the truth of the Gödel sentence. We are concerned to show that the (...) deflationist has at his disposal such extended methods—methods which make no use or mention of a truth-predicate. This consideration leads us to reassess arguments recently advanced—one by Shapiro and another by Ketland—against the deflationist's account of truth. Their main point of agreement is this: they both adduce the Gödel phenomena as motivating a ‘thick’ notion of truth, rather than the deflationist's ‘thin’ notion. But the so-called ‘semantical argument’, which appears to involve a ‘thick’ notion of truth, does not really have to be semantical at all. It is, rather, a reflective argument. And the reflections upon a system that are contained therein are deflationarily licit, expressible without explicit use or mention of a truth-predicate. Thus it would appear that this anti-deflationist objection fails to establish that there has to be more to truth than mere conformity to the disquotational T-schema. (shrink)
Fictionalism has long presented an attractive alternative to both heavy-duty realist and simple eliminativist views about entities such as properties, propositions, numbers, and possible worlds. More recently, a different alternative to these traditional views has been gaining popularity: a form of deflationism that holds that trivial arguments may lead us from uncontroversial premisses to conclude that the relevant entities exist — but where commitment to the entities is a trivial consequence of other claims we accept, not a posit to (...) explain what makes the relevant claims true. The deflationist’s trivial arguments, however, have been attacked by fictionalists, who suggest that the ontological conclusions we get from these arguments should not be taken as serious ontological assertions at all, but rather as implicitly in the context of a fiction or simulation. This paper examines the fictionalist’s criticisms of ‘easy’ arguments for numbers, properties, and other entities, and concludes that they beg the question against the deflationist and so do not undermine the deflationist’s position. Close attention to the argument also reveals a crucial disanalogy between overtly fictional discourse and discourse about numbers, properties, and so on, which undermines the case for fictionalism. Finally, I argue that the motivations for fictionalism (particularly those based in its ability to offer a good account of the discourse) are served as well or better by deflationism. Overall, this gives us reason to think that deflationism may provide a preferable approach for those looking for an alternative to both traditional realism and traditional eliminativism. (shrink)
Deflationists about truth embrace the positive thesis that the notion of truth is useful as a logical device, for such purposes as blanket endorsement, and the negative thesis that the notion doesn’t have any legitimate applications beyond its logical uses, so it cannot play a significant theoretical role in scientific inquiry or causal explanation. Focusing on Christopher Hill as exemplary deflationist, the present paper takes issue with the negative thesis, arguing that, without making use of the notion of truth conditions, (...) we have little hope for a scientific understanding of human speech, thought, and action. For the reference relation, the situation is different. Inscrutability arguments give reason to think that a more-than-deflationary theory of reference is unattainable. With respect to reference, deflationism is the only game in town. (shrink)
Any (1-)consistent and sufficiently strong system of first-order formal arithmetic fails to decide some independent Gödel sentence. We examine consistent first-order extensions of such systems. Our purpose is to discover what is minimally required by way of such extension in order to be able to prove the Gödel sentence in a nontrivial fashion. The extended methods of formal proof must capture the essentials of the so-called 'semantical argument' for the truth of the Gödel sentence. We are concerned to show that (...) the deflationist has at his disposal such extended methods--methods which make no use or mention of a truth-predicate. (edited). (shrink)
Deflationists about truth typically deny that truth is a causal-explanatory property. However, the now familiar 'success argument' attempts to show that truth plays an important causal-explanatory role in explanations of practical success. Deflationists have standardly responded that the truth predicate appears in such explanations merely as a logical device, and that therefore truth has not been shown to play a causal-explanatory role. I argue that if we accept Jackson and Pettit's account of causal explanations, the standard deflationist response is inconsistent, (...) for on this account even logical properties can be causally explanatory. Therefore the deflationist should remain neutral as to whether truth is a causal-explanatory property, and focus instead on the claim that truth, if it is a property, is a merely logical one. (shrink)
Controversy has arisen of late over the claim that deflationism about truth requires that we explain meaning in terms of something other than truth-conditions. This controversy, it is argued, is due to unclarity as to whether the basic deflationary claim that a sentence and a sentence that attributes truth to it are equivalent in meaning is intended to involve the truth- predicate of the object language for which we develop an account of meaning, or is intended to involve the (...) truth- predicate of the metalanguage in which we develop an account of meaning. The former view is compatible with the truth-conditional theory of meaning for the object language, the latter is incompatible with it. However, the former view is also trivially true; hence we should endorse the claim that any form of deflationism worth being interested in is incompatible with understanding meaning truth-conditionally. (shrink)
Deflationist accounts of truth are widely held in contemporary philosophy: they seek to show that truth is a dispensable concept with no metaphysical depth. However, logical paradoxes present problems for deflationists that their work has struggled to overcome. In this volume of fourteen original essays, a distinguished team of contributors explore the extent to which, if at all, deflationism can accommodate paradox. The volume will be of interest to philosophers of logic, philosophers of language, and anyone working on truth. (...) Contributors include Bradley Armour-Garb, Jody Azzouni, JC Beall, Hartry Field, Christopher Gauker, Michael Glanzberg, Dorothy Grover, Anil Gupta, Volker Halbach, Leon Horsten, Paul Horwich, Graham Priest, Greg Restall, and Alan Weir. (shrink)
In this article, I provide a general account of deflationism. After doing so, I turn to truth-defla- tionism, where, after first describing some of the species, I highlight some challenges for those who wish to adopt it.
Deflationism is the view that certain metaphysical debates are defective, leaving it open whether the defect is best explained in semantic, conceptual, or epistemic terms. Local semantic deflationism is the thesis that familiar metaphysical debates, which appear to be about the existence and identity of material objects, are merely verbal. It’s a form of local deflationism because it restricts itself to one particular area of metaphysics. It’s a form of semantic deflationism because the defect it purports (...) to identify in these debates is explained in terms of the broadly semantic notion of a merely verbal disputation. Three questions about this thesis are asked and answered here. Does a commitment to the principle of interpretive charity support it? No. Does it avoid the problems that plagued Carnap? No. Does it support a linguistic turn with respect to questions about the nature of material things? No. The central take-home message is that local semantic deflationism is unstable: advocates of the view must admit that debates about material coincidence and identity are substantive. (shrink)
Many philosophers believe that a deflationist theory of truth must conservatively extend any base theory to which it is added. But when applied to arithmetic, it's argued, the imposition of a conservativeness requirement leads to a serious objection to deflationism: for the Gödel sentence for Peano Arithmetic is not a theorem of PA, but becomes one when PA is extended by adding plausible principles governing truth. This paper argues that no such objection succeeds. The issue turns on how we (...) understand the notion of logical consequence implicit in any conservativeness requirement, and whether we possess a categorical conception of the natural numbers. I offer a disjunctive response: if we possess a categorical conception of arithmetic, then deflationists have principled reason to accept a rich notion of logical consequence according to which the Gödel sentence follows from PA. But if we do not, then the reasons for requiring the derivation of the Gödel sentence lapse, and deflationists are free to accept a conservativeness requirement stated proof-theoretically. Either way, deflationism is in the clear. (shrink)
Any consistent and sufficiently strong system of first-order formal arithmetic fails to decide some independent Gödel sentence. We examine consistent first-order extensions of such systems. Our purpose is to discover what is minimally required by way of such extension in order to be able to prove the Gödel sentence in a non-trivial fashion. The extended methods of formal proof must capture the essentials of the so-called 'semantical argument' for the truth of the Gödel sentence. We are concerned to show that (...) the deflationist has at his disposal such extended methods-methods which make no use or mention of a truth-predicate. This consideration leads us to reassess arguments recently advanced-one by Shapiro and another by Ketland-against the deflationist's account of truth. Their main point of agreement is this: they both adduce the Gödel phenomena as motivating a 'thick' notion of truth, rather than the deflationist's 'thin' notion. But the so-called 'semantical argument', which appears to involve a 'thick' notion of truth, does not really have to be semantical at all. It is, rather, a reflective argument. And the reflections upon a system that are contained therein are deflationarily licit, expressible without explicit use or mention of a truth-predicate. Thus it would appear that this anti-deflationist objection fails to establish that there has to be more to truth than mere conformity to the disquotational T-schema. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to present a thought experiment and argument that spells trouble for “radical” deflationism concerning meaning and truth such as that advocated by the staunch nominalist Hartry Field. The thought experiment does not sit well with any view that limits a truth predicate to sentences understood by a given speaker or to sentences in (or translatable into) a given language, unless that language is universal. The scenario in question concerns sentences that are not understood (...) but are known to be logical consequences of known and understood sentences. Ultimately, the issue turns on the notion of logical consequence that is available to various versions of deflationism. (shrink)
The correspondence theory of truth is often thought to be supported by the intuition that if a proposition (sentence, belief) is true, then something makes it true. I argue that this appearance is illusory and is sustained only by a conflation of two distinct notions of truthmaking, existential and non-existential. Once the conflation is exposed, I maintain, deflationism is seen to be adequate for accommodating truthmaking intuitions.
What is deflationism about truth? There are many questions that can be raised about this, given the numerous different characterizations of deflationism in the literature. Here I attend to questions about the characterization of deflationism that arise when we carefully distinguish between issues pertaining to concepts and issues pertaining to properties.
There are three general ways to approach reconciliation: from the side of nonfactualism, from the side of deflationism, or from both sides at once. To approach reconciliation from a given side, as I will use the expression, just means to attend in the first instance to the details of that side’s position. (It will be important to keep in mind that the success of an approach from one side may ultimately require concessions from the other side.) The only attempts (...) at reconciliation in the literature of which I am aware fall in to the first of these three categories. Such writers argue that the tension between our –isms can be resolved by paying sufficiently close attention to the nature of nonfactualism. While I have nothing against this approach in principle, I do have reservations about the particular proposals that have been made in its pursuit. The first section of the present paper briefly develops a line of objection against one such proposal, in order to motivate the approach to reconciliation from the side of deflationism. In section two, I argue that the deflationist can and should reject the inference from (2) to (3) above. Section three addresses a special problem of reconciliation for the nonfactu- alist who continues to use the discourse she takes to be factually defective. By paying close attention to the details of deflationism about reference, I show how a deflationist about truth might avoid this problem. I conclude that deflationism can be developed in a way that renders it compatible with nonfactualism. (shrink)
Anaphoric deflationism is a prosententialist account of the use of “true.” Prosentences are, for sentences, the equivalent of what pronouns are for nouns: as pronouns refer to previously introduced nouns, so prosentences like “that’s true” inherit their content from previously introduced sentences. This kind of deflationism concerning the use of “true” (especially in Brandom’s version) is an explanation in terms of anaphora; the prosentence depends anaphorically on the sentence providing its content. A relevant implication of this theory is (...) that “true” is not understood as a predicate and that truth is not a property. Primitivism, defended by Frege, Moore, and Davidson, is associated with two ideas: (1) that truth is a primitive and central trait of our conceptual system and (2) that truth, as such, cannot be defined. This second claim can be called “negative primitivism,” and it especially points out the facts about the “indefinability” of truth generally advocated by primitivists. In what follows, a connection is established between the deflationist’s rejection of the predicate and of the property and facts (and primitivist ideas) about the indefinability of truth. This connection establishes a common framework to lend further explanatory power to both options. According to the resulting view, this indefinability can explain the appeal and soundness of a deflationist dismissal of predicates and properties dealing with truth. (shrink)
Thanks to the work of Kendall Walton, appeals to the notion of pretence (or make-believe) have become popular in philosophy. Now the notion has begun to appear in accounts of truth. My aim here is to assess one of these accounts, namely the ‘constructive methodological deflationism’ put forward by Jc Beall. After introducing the view, I argue that Beall does not manage to overcome the problem of psychological implausibility. Although Beall claims that constructive methodological deflationism supports dialetheism, I (...) argue that it does not, and I show that it in fact provides a classical response to the Liar paradox. (shrink)
(Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 2007) > Another look at Bar-On, Horisk and Lycan’s criticism of deflationism. I claim that their argument turns on a simple confusion about definitions and thereby fails to establish that deflationism somehow requires meaning to be explained in terms of truth conditions.
This paper argues, in response to Huw Price, that deflationism has the resources to account for the normativity of truth. The discussion centers on a principle of hyper-objective assertibility, that one is incorrect to assert that p if not-p. If this principle doesn't state a fact about truth, it neednt be explained by deflationists. If it does,, it can be explained.