[FOM] deflationism

praatika@mappi.helsinki.fi praatika at mappi.helsinki.fi
Tue Mar 21 07:20:40 EST 2006

Quoting A.S.Virdi at lse.ac.uk:

> As soon as the deflationist makes an appeal to the Tarskian axioms, isn't
> she already moving away from her deflationary position? 

Well, it is not completely clear what exactly constitutes the essence of 
deflationism. In this case, there are (at least) two alternative 
interpretations: (i) T-sentences say all there is to say about truth; (ii) 
the truth theory should not entail anything substantial; i.e., it must be a 
conservative extension of the base theory.  

So, the answer is: in the former interpretation, yes, in the latter, no.

> In other words, Tarski's semantic conception of truth precisifies the so-
> called correspondence theory of truth 

This is questionable. Tarski's truth definition is based on his definition 
of primitive denotation, which is list-like and arguably deflationary. 

> Tarski himself claimed he was attempting to do justice to the
> correspondence theory of truth in his work.

True, but it is a different question whether he succeeded. 

It should be added, though, that if one modifies Tarski's definition, and 
replaces his list-like *definition* of denotation with a substantial 
*theory* of denotation, one gets substantial correspondence theory. But 
this has its price: one cannot then define truth without presupposing any 
semantical notions, as Tarski himself wanted to do.  

> If the deflationist wants conservativity (i.e. to get to fact (3) above)
> then she will be forced to walk hand-in-hand with a substantialist 
> about truth.

I can't see why...

All the Best


Panu Raatikainen
Ph.D., Academy Research Fellow,
Docent in Theoretical Philosophy
Department of Philosophy 
University of Helsinki

Visiting Fellow 
Institute of Philosophy
School of Advanced Studies 
University of London

E-mail: panu.raatikainen at helsinki.fi

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