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Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

TheDeflationaryTheoryofTruth
FirstpublishedThuAug28,1997substantiverevisionMonOct4,2010
Accordingtothedeflationarytheoryoftruth,toassertthatastatementistrueisjusttoassertthestatementitself.
Forexample,tosaythatsnowiswhiteistrue,orthatitistruethatsnowiswhite,isequivalenttosaying
simplythatsnowiswhite,andthis,accordingtothedeflationarytheory,isallthatcanbesaidsignificantly
aboutthetruthofsnowiswhite.
Therearemanyimplicationsofatheoryofthissortforphilosophicaldebateaboutthenatureoftruth.
Philosophersoftenmakesuggestionslikethefollowing:truthconsistsincorrespondencetothefactstruth
consistsincoherencewithasetofbeliefsorpropositionstruthistheidealoutcomeofrationalinquiry.
Accordingtothedeflationist,however,suchsuggestionsaremistaken,and,moreover,theyallshareacommon
mistake.Thecommonmistakeistoassumethattruthhasanatureofthekindthatphilosophersmightfindout
aboutanddeveloptheoriesof.Forthedeflationist,truthhasnonaturebeyondwhatiscapturedinordinary
claimssuchasthatsnowiswhiteistruejustincasesnowiswhite.Philosopherslookingforthenatureoftruth
areboundtobefrustrated,thedeflationistsays,becausetheyarelookingforsomethingthatisn'tthere.
Thedeflationarytheoryhasgonebymanydifferentnames,includingatleastthefollowing:theredundancy
theory,thedisappearancetheory,thenotruththeory,thedisquotationaltheory,andtheminimalisttheory.There
isnoterminologicalconsensusabouthowtousetheselabels:sometimestheyareusedinterchangeably
sometimestheyareusedtomarkdistinctionsbetweendifferentversionsofthesamegeneralview.Herewewill
usedeflationism,andthedeflationarytheoryoftruthtodenotethegeneralviewwewanttodiscuss,and
reserveothernamesforspecificversionsofthatview.
1.HistoryofDeflationism
2.TheEquivalenceSchema
3.VarietiesofDeflationism
4.TheUtilityofDeflationaryTruth
5.IsTruthAProperty?
6.TheDeflationaryTheoryofFalsity
7.ObjectionstoDeflationism
7.1Objection#1:PropositionsVersusSentences.
7.2Objection#2:Correspondence
7.3Objection#3:TruthvalueGaps.
7.4Objection#4:ConsistencyandAdequacy
7.5Objection#5:Normativity.
7.6Objection#6:InflationistDeflationism?
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1.HistoryofDeflationism
Thedeflationarytheoryhasbeenoneofthemostpopularapproachestotruthinthetwentiethcentury,having
receivedexplicitdefensebyFrege,Ramsey,Ayer,andQuine,aswellassympathetictreatmentfrommany

others.(AccordingtoDummett1959,thevieworiginateswithFrege.)Thefollowingpassagesallcontain
recognizableversionsofthedoctrine,thoughtheydifferonpointsofdetail.
ItisworthyofnoticethatthesentenceIsmellthescentofvioletshasthesamecontentasthe
sentenceitistruethatIsmellthescentofviolets.Soitseems,then,thatnothingisaddedtothe
thoughtbymyascribingtoitthepropertyoftruth.(Frege1918)
Truthandfalsityareascribedprimarilytopropositions.Thepropositiontowhichtheyareascribed
maybeeitherexplicitlygivenordescribed.Supposefirstthatitisexplicitlygiventhenitisevident
thatItistruethatCaesarwasmurderedmeansnomorethanthatCaesarwasmurdered,andItis
falsethatCaesarwasmurderedmeansnomorethanCaesarwasnotmurdered.Theyarephrases
whichwesometimesuseforemphasisorstylisticreasons,ortoindicatethepositionoccupiedby
thestatementinourargument.Inthesecondcaseinwhichthepropositionisdescribedandnot
givenexplicitlywehaveperhapsmoreofaproblem,forwegetstatementsfromwhichwecannotin
ordinarylanguageeliminatethewordstrueorfalse.ThusifIsayHeisalwaysright,Imean
thatthepropositionsheassertsarealwaystrue,andtheredoesnotseemtobeanywayofexpressing
thiswithoutusingthewordtrue.ButsupposeweputitthusForallp,ifheassertsp,pistrue,
thenweseethatthepropositionalfunctionpistrueissimplythesameasp,ase.g.itsvalueCaesar
wasmurderedistrueisthesameasCaesarwasmurdered.(Ramsey1927)
itisevidentthatasentenceoftheform"pistrue"or"itistruethatp"thereferencetotruthnever
addsanythingtothesense.IfIsaythatitistruethatShakespearewroteHamlet,orthatthe
proposition"ShakespearewroteHamlet"istrue,IamsayingnomorethanthatShakespearewrote
Hamlet.Similarly,ifIsaythatitisfalsethatShakespearewrotetheIliad,Iamsayingnomorethan
thatShakespearedidnotwritetheIliad.Andthisshowsthatthewordstrueandfalsearenot
usedtostandforanything,butfunctioninthesentencemerelyasassertionandnegationsigns.That
istosay,truthandfalsehoodarenotgenuineconcepts.Consequentlytherecanbenological
problemconcerningthenatureoftruth.(Ayer1935).
Thetruthpredicateisareminderthat,despiteatechnicalascenttotalkofsentences,oureyeison
theworld.ThiscancellatoryforceofthetruthpredicateisexplicitinTarski'sparadigm:
Snowiswhiteistrueifandonlyifsnowiswhite.
Quotationmarksmakeallthedifferencebetweentalkingaboutwordsandtalkingaboutsnow.The
quotationisanameofasentencethatcontainsaname,namelysnow,ofsnow.Bycallingthe
sentencetrue,wecallsnowwhite.Thetruthpredicateisadevicefordisquotation.(Quine1970).
Inadditiontobeingpopularhistorically,thedeflationarytheoryhasbeenthefocusofmuchrecentwork.
PerhapsitsmostvociferouscontemporarydefendersareHartryFieldandPaulHorwich.
Onereasonforthepopularityofdeflationismisitsantimetaphysicalstance.Deflationismseemstodeflatea
grandmetaphysicalpuzzle,apuzzleaboutthenatureoftruth,andmuchofmodernphilosophyismarkedbya
profoundscepticismofmetaphysics.Anotherreasonforthepopularityofdeflationismconcernsthefactthat
truthisasemanticnotion,andthereforetakesitsplacealongwithothersemanticnotions,suchasreference,
meaning,andcontent.Manyphilosophersareconcernedwithtryingtounderstandthesesemanticnotions.The
deflationarytheoryisattractivesinceitsuggeststhat,atleastinthecaseoftruth,thereislesstobepuzzled
aboutherethanonemightexpect.

2.TheEquivalenceSchema
Perhapsbecauseofthewidespreadinterestindeflationism,thetheoryhasreceivedmanydifferentformulations.
Theresultisthatthereisnotsomuchadeflationarytheoryoftruthasmany.Inrecenttimes,however,the
deflationarytheoryhasmostoftenbeenpresentedwiththehelpofaschema,whichissometimescalledthe

equivalenceschema:
(ES)<p>istrueifandonlyifp.
Inthisschemaanglebracketsindicateanappropriatenameformingdevice,e.g.quotationmarksorthe
propositionthat,andoccurrencesofparereplacedwithsentencestoyieldinstancesoftheschema.With
thehelpof(ES),wecanformulatedeflationismastheview,roughly,thattheinstancesofthisschemacapture
everythingsignificantthatcanbesaidabouttruth.Theorieswhichdepartfromdeflationismdenythatthe
equivalenceschematellsusthewholetruthabouttruth.Sincesuchtheoriesaddtotheequivalenceschema,they
areoftencalledinflationarytheoriesoftruth.(TheequivalenceschemaisassociatedwithAlfredTarski(1944,
1958),butitisfarfromobviousthatTarskiwasanysortofdeflationist.WewilllargelysetTarskiasidehere.)
Formulatedinthisway,deflationismdoesnotgiveanexplicitdefinitionoftruth,for(ES)isnotadefinitionof
anything.Indeed,somedeflationists(mostnotablyHorwich1998b)donotprovideanexplicitdefinitionoftruth
atall.Instead,theyprovideanexplicitdefinitionofhavingtheconceptoftruth.Tobemoreprecise,the
suggestionisthatsomeonehastheconceptoftruthjustincaseheorsheisdisposedtoacceptall
(noncontroversial)instancesoftheequivalenceschema,i.e.,everysentenceoftheform<p>istrueifandonly
ifpthatisnotparadoxicalorinsomeotherwaydeviant.Ofcourse,suchdeflationistsmaythinkthat,insaying
somethingaboutwhatitistohavetheconceptoftruth,theyhavetolduswhattheconceptoftruthis.Butthe
latterisabyproductoftheformerforthisreason,wecansaythatthesedeflationistsareproposinganimplicit
definitionoftheconceptoftruth.
Arethereversionsofdeflationism,orpositionsalliedtodeflationism,whichdonotemploytheequivalence
schemaorsomesimilardevice?Yes,butweshallmentionthemhereonlytosetthemaside.Onesuchview
whichmaybecalledexpressivismistheanalogueofemotivisminethics.(Thisviewoftruthisoften
associatedwithStrawson1950,thoughtheattributionisadifficultone.)Accordingtoemotivism,atleastinone
ofitsmosttraditionalforms,utterancesoftheformtortureiswrongdonot,despiteappearances,predicateis
wrongoftortureratherutterancesoftortureiswrongmerelyindicateanegativeattitudeonthepartofthe
speakertowardtorture.Expressivismistheparallelpositionabouttruth.Accordingtoexpressivism,utterances
oftheformSistruedonot,despiteappearances,predicateistrueofSratherSistruemerelyindicates
preparednessonthepartofthespeakertoassertS.
AnothersuchviewistheprosententialtheoryoftruthadvancedbyDorothyGrover(seeGrover,Campand
Belnap1973,andGrover1992).Accordingtothistheory,sentencesformedwiththepredicateistrueare
prosentences,whereaprosentenceisadeviceforachievinganaphoriccrossreferencetosentencesuttered
previouslyinaconversation,justaspronounsaredevicesforachievinganaphoriccrossreferencetonames
utteredpreviouslyinaconversation.Accordingtotheprosententialtheory,forexample,justasin
(1)Marywantedtobuyacar,butshecouldonlyaffordamotorbike.
weinterpretsheasapronounanaphoricallydependentonMary,sotooin
(2)Snowiswhite.Thatistrue,butitrarelylookswhiteinPittsburgh.
weinterpretThatistrueasaprosentenceanaphoricallydependentonSnowiswhite.
Expressivismandtheprosententialtheoryareclosecousinsofdeflationism,and,insomeusesoftheterm,might
reasonablybecalleddeflationary.However,theyarealsosufficientlydifferentfromthoseversionsof
deflationismthatutilizetheequivalenceschematobesetasidehere.Theimportantdifferencebetween
expressivismandtheprosententialtheoryontheonehand,anddeflationismasweareunderstandingitonthe
other,concernsthelogicalstructureofsentencessuchasSistrue.Forthedeflationist,thestructureofsuch
sentencesisverystraightforward:Sistruepredicatesthepropertyexpressedbyistrueofthethingdenoted
byS.Wemightexpressthisbysayingthat,accordingtodeflationism,SistruesaysofSthatitistrue,justas
applesareredsays,ofapples,thattheyareredorJohnsleepssays,ofJohn,thathesleeps.Bothexpressivism
andtheprosententialtheorydenythis,thoughfordifferentreasons.Accordingtoexpressivism,Sistrueis

properlyinterpretednotevenofsubjectpredicateformratherithasthestructureHooraytoS.Obviously,
therefore,itdoesnotsay,ofS,thatitistrue.Accordingtoprosententialism,bycontrast,whileSistruehasa
subjectpredicatestructure,itwouldstillbemistakentointerpretitasbeingaboutS.Forconsider:accordingto
theprosententialtheory,SistrueisaprosentencewhichstandsinforthesentencedenotedbySjustasshein
(1)isapronounwhichstandsinforthenameMary.Butwedonotsaythatshein(1)isaboutthename
Marysimilarly,accordingtotheprosententialtheory,weshouldnotsaythatSistrueisaboutS.Tosuppose
otherwisewouldbetomisconstruethenatureofanaphora.

3.VarietiesofDeflationism
Differentinterpretationsoftheequivalenceschemayielddifferentversionsofdeflationism.
Oneimportantquestionconcernstheissueofwhatinstancesoftheequivalenceschemaareassumedtobeabout
(equivalently:towhatthenamesininstancesoftheequivalenceschemaareassumedtorefer).Accordingtoone
view,instancesoftheequivalenceschemaareaboutsentences,whereanameforasentencecanbeformulated
simplybyquotingthesentencethus"BrutuskilledCaesar"isanameforBrutuskilledCaesar.Inother
words,forthosewhoholdwhatmightbecalledasententialistversionofdeflationismtheequivalenceschema
hasinstanceslike(3):
(3)BrutuskilledCaesaristrueifandonlyifBrutuskilledCaesar.
Tomakethisexplicit,wemightsaythat,accordingtosententialism,theequivalenceschemais(ESsent):
(ESsent)Thesentencesistrueifandonlyifs
Noticethatinthisschema,theanglebracketsof(ES)havebeenreplacedbyquotationmarks.
Accordingtothosewhoholdwhatmightbecalledapropositionalistversionofdeflationism,bycontrast,
instancesoftheequivalenceschemaareaboutpropositions,wherenamesofpropositionsare,orcanbetakento
be,expressionsoftheformthepropositionthatpthus,thepropositionthatBrutuskilledCaesarisaname
forthepropositionthatBrutuskilledCaesar.Forthepropositionalist,inotherwords,instancesofthe
equivalenceschemaareproperlyinterpretednotasbeingaboutsentencesbutaboutpropositions,i.e.,morelike
(4)than(3):
(4)ThepropositionthatBrutuskilledCaesaristrueifandonlyifBrutuskilledCaesar.
Tomakethisexplicit,wemightsaythat,accordingtopropositionalism,theequivalenceschemais(ESprop):
(ESprop)Thepropositionthatpistrueifandonlyifp.
Tointerprettheequivalenceschemaas(ESsent)ratherthan(ESprop),orviceversa,istoyieldadifferent
deflationarytheoryoftruth.Hencesententialismandpropositionalismaredifferentversionsofdeflationism.
(Therearealsosomefurtherwaystointerprettheequivalenceschema,butweshallsetthemasidehere.)
Theotherdimensionalongwhichdeflationarytheoriesvaryconcernsthenatureoftheequivalencethatthe
theoriesinterpretinstancesoftheequivalenceschemaasasserting.Ononeview,therighthandsideandtheleft
handsideofsuchinstancesareanalyticallyequivalent.Thus,forsententialists,(3)assertsthat,"Brutuskilled
Caesaristrue"meansthesameasBrutuskilledCaesarwhileforpropositionalists(4)assertsthatthe
propositionthatBrutuskilledCaesaristruemeansthesameasBrutuskilledCaesar.Asecondviewisthatthe
righthandsideandthelefthandsideofclaimssuchas(3)and(4)areonlymateriallyequivalentthisview
interpretstheifandonlyifinboth(3)and(4)asthebiconditionalofclassicallogic.Andathirdviewisthat
claimssuchas(3)and(4)assertanecessaryequivalencebetweentheirrighthandsidesandtheirlefthandsides
thatis,both(3)and(4)aretobeinterpretedasmaterialbiconditionalsthatholdofnecessity.

Thistripartitedistinctionbetweenanalytic,necessary,andmaterialequivalence,whencombinedwiththe
distinctionbetweensententialismandpropositionalism,yieldssixdifferentversionsofdeflationism:
Sentential

Propositional

Analytic

Material

Necessary

Itisthisvariegatednatureofdeflationismthattoalargeextentdictatesthemanynamesthathavebeenusedfor
thetheory.Thelabelsredundancytheory,disappearancetheoryandnotruththeoryhavebeenusedmainly
toapplytoanalyticversionsofdeflationism:positionsAorB.Thelabeldisquotationaltheorytendstoapply
tosententialistversions,andinfacttomaterialsententialdeflationism:positionC.Thelabelminimalisttheory
isalabelusedrecentlybyPaulHorwich(1998b)toapplytonecessaryversions,andinfacttonecessary
propositionaldeflationism:positionF.Itwillnotbeimportantforustoexaminealloftheseversionsof
deflationismindetailtoalargeextentphilosopherspreferoneorotherversionsoftheseviewsonthebasisof
viewsfromotherpartsofphilosophy,viewsaboutthephilosophyoflanguageandmetaphysics.However,itwill
beconvenientheretosettleononeversionoftheview.WewillthereforefollowHorwichinconcentrating
mainlyonpositionF.Horwichcallsthisviewminimalism,butwewillcontinuesimplywithdeflationism.

4.TheUtilityofDeflationaryTruth
Thedeflationistideathattheequivalenceschema(ESprop)providesanimplicitdefinitionoftheconceptof
truthsuggeststhattruthis,asthelabelredundancytheorysuggests,aredundantconcept,aconceptthatwe
coulddowithout.Onthecontrary,however,advocatesofthedeflationarytheory(particularlythoseinfluenced
byRamsey)areatpainstopointoutthatanyonewhohastheconceptoftruthinthissenseisinpossessionofa
veryusefulconceptindeedinparticular,anyonewhohasthisconceptisinapositiontoformgeneralizations
thatwouldotherwiserequirelogicaldevicesofinfiniteconjunction.
Suppose,forexample,thatJonesforwhateverreasondecidesthatSmithisaninfallibleguidetothenatureof
reality.WemightthensaythatJonesbelieveseverythingSmithsays.Tosaythismuch,however,isnotto
capturethecontentofJones'sbelief.Inordertodothatweneedsomewayofexpressinganinfiniteconjunction
ofsomethinglikethefollowingform:
IfSmithsaysthatsnowiswhite,thensnowiswhite,andifhesayssnowispink,thensnowispink,
andifhesaysthatsnowischartreuse,thensnowischartreuse,andsoon.
Theequivalenceschema(ESprop)allowsustocapturethisinfiniteconjunction.For,onthebasisofthe
schema,wecanreformulatetheinfiniteconjunctionas:
IfSmithsaysthatsnowiswhite,thenthepropositionthatsnowiswhiteistrue,andifhesayssnow
ispink,thenthepropositionthatsnowispinkistrue,andifhesaysthatsnowischartreuse,thenthe
propositionthatsnowischartreuseistrue,andsoon.
Inturn,thisreformulatedinfiniteconjunctioncanbeexpressedasastatementwhoseuniversalquantifierranges
overpropositions:
Foreverypropositionx,ifwhatSmithsaid=x,thenxistrue.
Or,toputthesamethingmorecolloquially:

EverythingSmithsaysistrue.
ThisstatementgiveusthecontentofJones'sbelief.Andtheimportantpointfordeflationistsisthatwecouldnot
havestatedthecontentofthisbeliefunlesswehadtheconceptoftruthasdescribedbythedeflationarytheory.
Infact,formostdeflationists,itisthisfeatureoftheconceptoftruthitsroleintheformationof
generalizationsthatexplainswhywehaveaconceptoftruthatall.Thisis,asitisoftenput,theraisond'tre
oftheconceptoftruth.
Givendeflationistsplacesuchheavyemphasisontheroleoftheconceptoftruthinexpressinggeneralizations,
itisironicthatsomeversionsofdeflationismhavebeencriticizedforbeingconstitutionallyincapableof
accountingforgeneralizationsabouttruth(Gupta1993,Halbach1999,Soames1999,ArmourGarb2004).For
example,theoriesthatimplicitlydefinetruthusingonlytheinstancesof(ESprop)donotallowustoderivea
generalizationlike(Conjunction).
(Conjunction)Forallpropositionsp,q(theconjunctionofpandqistrueifandonlyifpistrueand
qistrue).
Sincetheinstancesof(ESprop)areacollectionofparticularpropositionsand(Conjunction)isauniversal
generalization,itisnotpossibletoderive(Conjunction)fromtheinstancesof(ESprop).Yetitisplausiblethata
theoryoftruthshouldallowustoderivegeneraltruthsabouttruth,like(Conjunction).Thissuggeststhat
deflationarytheoriesoftruthformulatedusingonlytheinstancesof(ESprop)areinadequate.
Itisforthisreasonthatsomedeflationistsuseaversionof(Gen)toformulatetheirtheoryoftruth.
(Gen)Forallx,xistrueifandonlyifthereissomepsuchthatx=<p>,andp.
Therearetwothingstonoticeabout(Gen).First,unlike(ESprop)itisnotaschema,butauniversally
quantifiedformula.Forthisreason,itispossibletoderive(Conjunction)fromit.That(Gen)isuniversally
quantifiedalsomeansitcanbeusedasanexplicitdefinitionoftruth.Soalthoughdeflationistsoftenonly
implicitlydefinetruth,itispossibleforadeflationisttoofferanexplicitdefinition.Thuswehaveanother
dimensionalongwhichdeflationarytheoriescanvary.
Second,theexistentialquantifierin(Gen)mustbeahigherorderquantifierthatquantifiesintosentential
position.WolfgangKnne(2003)takestheexistentialquantifiertobeanobjectual(domainandvalues)
quantifierrangingoverpropositions.Adifferentapproachwouldbetotaketheexistentialquantifierasa
substitutionalquantifierwherethesubstitutionclassconsistsofsentences.ChristopherHill(2002)offersa
further,idiosyncratic,alternativeandtreatstheexistentialquantifierasasubstitutionalquantifierwhose
substitutionclassisthesetofallpropositions.However,alltheseapproacheshavedrawncriticismonthe
groundsthattheuseofhigherorderquantifierstodefinetruthiscircular(Platts1980,Horwich1998b,McGrath
2000),andmaygettheextensionoftheconceptoftruthwrong(Sosa1993).Unfortunately,wecannotassess
thesecriticismshere.Weshallcontinuetoconcentratemainlyonthoseversionsofdeflationismformulated
usinginstancesof(ESprop).
Analternativedeflationistapproachtothegeneralizationproblemistoattempttoshowthat,despite
appearances,theoriesthatonlyappealtotheinstancesof(ESprop)neverthelessdohavetheresourcestoderive
theproblematicgeneralizations.Field(1994a),forexample,suggeststhatweallowreasoningwithschemasand
proposesrulesthatwouldallowthederivationofgeneralizations.Horwich(1998b)suggestsamoreinformal
approachaccordingtowhichwearejustifiedinderiving(Conjunction)sinceaninformalinspectionofa
derivationofsomeinstanceof(Conjunction)showsusthatwecouldderiveanyinstanceofit.

5.IsTruthAProperty?
Itiscommonlysaidthat,accordingtothedeflationarytheory,truthisnotapropertyandthereforethat,
accordingtothetheory,ifapropositionistrue,itismistakentosaythatthepropositionhasaproperty,the

propertyofbeingtrue.Thereissomethingrightandsomethingwrongaboutthisview,andtoseewhatiswrong
andrightaboutitwillhelpustounderstandthedeflationarytheory.
Considerthetwotruepropositions(5)and(6):
(5)CaracasisthecapitalofVenezuela.
(6)Theearthrevolvesaroundthesun.
Dothesepropositionsshareapropertyofbeingtrue?Well,inonesenseofcoursetheydo:sincetheyareboth
true,wecansaythattherebothhavethepropertyofbeingtrue.Inthissense,thedeflationarytheoryisnot
denyingthattruthisaproperty:truthisthepropertythatalltruepropositionshave.
Ontheotherhand,whenwesaythattwothingsshareapropertyF,weoftenmeanmorethansimplythatthey
arebothFwemeaninadditionthatthereisintuitivelyacommonexplanationastowhytheyarebothF.Itisin
thissecondsenseinwhichdeflationistsaredenyingthattruthisaproperty.Thus,inthecaseofourexample,
whatexplainsthetruthof(5)isthatCaracasisthecapitalofVenezuelaandwhatexplainsthisisthepolitical
historyofVenezuela.Ontheotherhand,whatexplainsthetruthof(6)isthattheearthrevolvesaroundthesun
andwhatexplainsthisisthenatureofthesolarsystem.Thenatureofthesolarsystem,however,hasnothingto
dowiththepoliticalhistoryofVenezuela(orifitdoestheconnectionsarecompletelyaccidental!)andtothat
extentthereisnosharedexplanationastowhy(5)and(6)arebothtrue.Therefore,inthisstrongersense,they
havenopropertyincommon.
Itwillhelptobringoutthecontrastbeinginvokedhereifweconsidertwopropertiesthathavenothingtodo
withtruth,thepropertyofbeing,i.e.thepropertyofhavingexistence,andthepropertyofbeingamammal.
ConsiderHillaryRodhamClintonandtheGreatWallofChina.Dotheseobjectshavethepropertyofexistence?
Well,inonesense,theydo:theybothexistsotheybothhavethepropertyofexistence.Ontheotherhand,
however,thereisnocommonexplanationastowhytheybothexist.WhatexplainstheexistenceoftheGreat
WallisthearchitecturalanddefensepoliciesofclassicalChinawhatexplainstheexistenceofHillaryRodham
ClintonisMrandMrsRodham.Wemightthensaythatexistenceisnotapropertyandmeanbythisthatitdoes
notfollowfromthefactthattwothingsexistthatthereisacommonexplanationastowhytheyexist.Butnow
comparethepropertyofexistencewiththepropertyofbeingamammal.Iftwothingsaremammals,theyhave
thepropertyofbeingamammal,butinadditionthereissomecommonexplanationastowhytheyareboth
mammalsbotharedescendedfromthesamefamilyofcreatures,say.Accordingtodeflationism,theproperty
ofbeingtrueismorelikethepropertyofexistencethanitislikethepropertyofbeingamammal.
Dependingonone'sviewsaboutwhatittakestobeaproperty,then,onemightbetemptedtosayherethatbeing
trueisnotaproperty,becauseitisnotlikebeingamammal.Butinfactmostcontemporarydeflationists,
pursuingtheanalogybetweentruthandexistence,describetruthasalogicalproperty(forexample,Field1992:
322Horwich1998a:37Knne2003:91).

6.TheDeflationaryTheoryofFalsity
Truthandfalsityareapackagedeal.Itwouldbehardtoimaginesomeonehavingtheconceptoftruthwithout
alsohavingtheconceptoffalsity.Oneobviousquestiontoasktheproponentofthedeflationarytheoryoftruth,
then,ishowthetheoryistobeextendedtofalsity.
Anaturalaccountoftheconceptoffalsitydefinesitintermsoftheconceptoftruth.Thus,someonehasthe
conceptoffalsehoodjustincasetheyacceptinstancesoftheschema:
(Fprop)ThepropositionthatPisfalseifandonlyifthepropositionthatPisnottrue
Asecond,andinitiallyslightlydifferent,accountoffalsitydefinesitdirectlyintermsofnegation.Accordingto
thisview,someonehastheconceptoffalsityjustincasetheyacceptinstancesoftheschema:

(Fprop*)ThepropositionthatPisfalseifandonlyifitisnotthecasethatP
Manydeflationistssupposethatthat(Fprop)and(Fprop*)infactimplicitlydefinethesameconceptoffalsity
(cfHorwich1994).Thekeyideahereisthatthereseemsnoreasontodistinguishbeingtruefrombeingthe
case.Ifthereisnodistinctionbetweenbeingtrueandbeingthecase,presumablythereisalsonodistinction
betweenItisnotthecasethatpandItisnottruethatp.Inaddition,however,Itisnottruethatpis
plausiblysynonymouswiththepropositionthatpisnottrueandthismeansthat(Fprop)and(Fprop*)are
equivalent.Aswewillshortlysee,thisaccountoffalsity,thoughcertainlyanaturalone,leavesthedeflationary
theoryopentoanimportantobjectionconcerningtruthvaluegaps.

7.ObjectionstoDeflationism
Ourconcerntothispointhasbeenonlywithwhatthedeflationarytheoryis.Intheremainderofthisarticle,we
considersixobjections.Thesearebynomeanstheonlyobjectionsthathavebeenadvancedagainstdeflationism
Horwich(1998b)considersthirtyninedifferentobjections!buttheydoseemparticularlyobviousand
important.

7.1Objection#1:PropositionsVersusSentences.
Wenotedearlierthatdeflationismcanbepresentedineitherasententialistversionorapropositionalistversion.
Somephilosophershavesuggested,however,thatthechoicebetweenthesetwoversionsconstitutesadilemma
fordeflationism(Jackson,OppyandSmith1994).Theobjectionisthatifdeflationismisconstruedin
accordancewithpropositionalism,thenitistrivial,butifitisconstruedinaccordancewithsententialismitis
false.Toillustratethedilemma,considerthefollowingclaim:
(7)Snowiswhiteistrueifandonlyifsnowiswhite
Now,doessnowiswhiterefertoasentenceoraproposition?If,ontheonehand,wetake(7)tobeabouta
sentence,then,assuming(7)canbeinterpretedasmakinganecessaryclaim,(7)isfalse.Onthefaceofit,after
all,ittakesalotmorethansnow'sbeingwhiteforittobethecasethatsnowiswhiteistrue.Inorderthat
snowiswhitebetrue,itmustbethecasenotonlythatsnowiswhite,itmustinadditionbethecasethatsnow
iswhitemeansthatsnowiswhite.Butthisisafactaboutlanguagethat(7)ignores.Ontheotherhand,suppose
wetakesnowiswhitetodenoteapropositioninparticular,supposewetakeittodenotethepropositionthat
snowiswhite.Thenthetheorylookstobetrivial,sincethepropositionthatsnowiswhiteisdefinedasbeing
truejustincasesnowiswhite.Inshort,thedeflationistisfacedwithadilemma:takedeflationismtobeatheory
ofsentencesanditisfalsetakeittobeatheoryofpropositions,ontheotherhand,anditistrivial.
Ofthetwohornsofthisdilemma,itmightseemthatthebeststrategyfordeflationistsistoremainwiththe
propositionalistversionoftheirdoctrineandacceptitstriviality.Atrivialdoctrine,afterall,atleasthasthe
advantageofbeingtrue.Moreover,thechargeoftrivialityissomethingthatdeflationistsmightwellbeexpected
towearasabadgeofhonor:sincedeflationistsareadvocatingtheirtheoryasfollowingfrommundanefacts
aboutwhicheveryonecanagree,itisnowonderthatthetheorytheyadvocateistrivial.
However,thereareanumberofreasonswhydeflationistshavetypicallynotendorsedthisoption.First,the
trivialityatissueheredoesnothaveitssourceintheconceptoftruth,butratherintheconceptofaproposition.
Second,atrivialversionofdeflationismsaysnothingaboutthetheoryofmeaning,wherebytheoryof
meaningwemeananaccountoftheconnectionsbetweensentencesofnaturallanguageandthepropositions
theyexpress.Afterall,ifdeflationistsareattendingonlytopropositions,theyareevidentlynotattendingtothe
relationbetweensentencesandpropositions.Ofcourse,onemightpointoutthatothertheoriesoftrutharealso
silentonthetheoryofmeaningwhythencandeflationismnotbe?However,thefactisthatmany
deflationistspresenttheirdoctrineasacentralpartofamuchbiggerphilosophicalproject,viz.,toprovidea
deflationaryaccountofallthesemanticnotions,thatis,notionssuchastruth,reference,andmeaning.The
problemfordeflationistswhograspthesecondhornofthedilemmaisthattheymustadmitthatthereisnoway

tocompletethisproject:thedeflationarytheoryoftruthcanonlybemaintainedbyremainingsilentaboutthe
theoryofmeaning.Andthismeansthatdeflationismshouldbeunderstoodasamuchmoremodestprojectthan
itisoftentakentobe.
Theotherpossibleresponsetothisdilemmaistoacceptthatdeflationismappliesinteraliatosentences,butto
arguethatthesentencestowhichitappliesmustbeinterpretedsentences,i.e.,sentenceswhichhavemeaning.
Ofcourse,ifthesentencestowhichdeflationismappliesareinterpretedsentences,thentherewillbenoforceto
theobjectionthatdeflationismisignoringthefactthatsentenceshavemeaning.Deflationism,onthis
interpretation,isnotsomuchignoringthisfactasassumingit.
Oneitherplausibleresponsetothedilemma,then,thedeflationistmakesuseofthenotionofmeaningtoexplain
truth.Thisfacthasledanumberofphilosopherstoarguethat,onpainofcircularity,deflationismcannotbe
combinedwiththeoriesofmeaningthatmakeuseofthenotionoftruthtoexplainmeaninginparticular,that
deflationismisincompatiblewithtruthconditionaltheoriesofmeaning(e.g.Dummett1959,Davidson1990,
Horwich1998b,Kalderon1999,Collins2002).Otherphilosophershavealsosuggestedthatdeflationismis
incompatiblewithtruthconditionaltheoriesofmeaningonthegroundsthatgrantingtruthanykindof
explanatoryroleisinconsistentwithdeflationism(Davidson1990,Field1986,1994).
Ifdeflationismisinconsistentwithtruthconditionaltheoriesofmeaning,thisisnotobviouslyanobjectionto
deflationism.Afterall,therearealternativetheoriesofmeaningavailable:bothPaulHorwichandHartryField
haveindifferentwaysdefendedaversionofausetheoryofmeaning(seeField1994a,Horwich1998a).There
is,however,alotofworktobedonebeforeausetheorycanberegardedasasuccessfultheoryofmeaning.
Whatabouttheclaimthatdeflationismisinconsistentwithtruthconditionaltheoriesofmeaning?AsWilliam
G.Lycannotes(BarOnetal2005),thechargesofcircularityintheliteraturehavebeenimpressionisticandso
remaindifficulttoevaluate.Moreover,onthesurfaceatleast,thecircularitychargewouldseemtoshowthat
eveninflationismabouttruthisinconsistentwithtruthconditionaltheoriesofmeaning,sincealltheoriesoftruth
willhavetotakemeaningforgrantedinsomesenseforexample,indecidingwhichsentencesaretruthapt
(Forcriticismsofthecircularitycharge,seeGupta1993,Horisk2008,Lance1997,Williams1999.)
Ontheotherhand,worriesabouttheexplanatoryroletruthplaysintruthconditionaltheoriesofmeaningcan
onlybeevaluatedifweknow,first,whatsortofexplanatoryroletruthplaysinsuchtheories,and,second,what
sortofexplanatoryrolesareruledoutbydeflationism.Itseemsclear,forexample,thatiftheconceptoftruthis
onlyemployedintruthconditionaltheoriesofmeaningasadeviceofgeneralization,thereisnoinconsistency
withdeflationarytheoriesoftruth.Butdoestruthhaveonlythisroleintruthconditionaltheoriesofmeaning?
Thecompatibilityofdeflationismabouttruthandtruthconditionaltheoriesofmeaningseemstousanimportant
andunansweredquestion.(Forrecentdiscussion,seeWilliams1999,BarOnetal2005,Collins2002,Gupta
andMartinezFernandez2005,Horisk2007andField2005.)

7.2Objection#2:Correspondence
Itisoftensaidthatwhatismostobviousabouttruthisthattruthconsistsincorrespondencetothefactsfor
example,thatthetruthofthepropositionthattheearthrevolvesaroundthesunconsistsinitscorrespondenceto
thefactthattheearthrevolvesaroundthesun.Thesocalledcorrespondencetheoryoftruthisbuiltaroundthis
intuition,andtriestoexplainthenotionoftruthbyappealtothenotionsofcorrespondenceandfact.Evenifone
doesnotbuildone'stheoryoftrutharoundthisintuitionhowever,manyphilosophersregarditasaconditionof
adequacyonanytheoryoftruththatthetheoryaccommodatesthecorrespondenceintuition.
Itisoftenobjectedtodeflationism,however,thatthedoctrinehasparticulartroublemeetingthisadequacy
condition.Onewaytobringouttheproblemhereisbyfocusingonaparticulararticulationofthe
correspondenceintuition,anarticulationfavouredbydeflationiststhemselves(Horwich1998b).Accordingto
thiswayofspellingitout,theintuitionthatacertainsentenceorpropositioncorrespondstothefactsisthe
intuitionthatthesentenceorpropositionistruebecauseofacertainwaytheworldisthatis,thetruthofthe
propositionisexplainedbysomecontingentfactwhichisusuallyexternaltothepropositionitself.Wemight

expressthisbysayingthatsomeonewhoendorsesthecorrespondenceintuitionsounderstoodwouldendorse:
(8)Thepropositionthatsnowiswhiteistruebecausesnowiswhite
Now,theproblemwith(8)isthat,whenwecombineitwiththedeflationarytheoryoratleastwithanecessary
versionofthattheorywecanderivesomethingthatisplainlyfalse.Someonewhoholdsanecessaryversionof
deflationismwouldclearlybecommittedtothenecessarytruthof:
(9)Thepropositionthatsnowiswhiteistrueiffsnowiswhite.
And,since(9)isanecessarytruth,itisveryplausibletosupposethat(8)and(9)togetherentail:
(10)Snowiswhitebecausesnowiswhite.
Unfortunately,however,(10)isfalse.Thereasonisthattherelationreportedbybecausein(8)and(10)isa
causalorexplanatoryrelation,andsuchrelationsmustobtainbetweendistinctrelata.Buttherelatain(10)are
(obviously)notdistinct.Hence(10)isfalse.Butthismeansthattheconjunctionof(8)and(9)mustbefalse,and
thatdeflationismisinconsistentwiththecorrespondenceintuition.ToborrowaphraseofMarkJohnston's
whomountsasimilarargumentinadifferentcontextwemightputthepointdifferentlybysayingthat,if
deflationismistrue,thenwhatseemstobeaperfectlygoodexplanationin(8)goesmissingifdeflationismis
true,afterall,then(8)isequivalentto(10),and(10)isnotanexplanationofanything.
Howmightadeflationistrespondtothisobjection?Oneresponseistoprovideadifferentarticulationofthe
correspondenceintuition.Forexample,onemightpointoutthattheconnectionbetweenthepropositionthat
snowiswhiteandsnow'sbeingwhiteisnotacontingentconnection,andsuggestthatthisrulesout(8)asa
successfularticulationofthecorrespondenceintuition.Thatintuition(onemightcontinue)ismoreplausibly
givenvoiceby(8*):
(8*)Snowiswhiteistruebecausesnowiswhite.
However,when(8*)isconjoinedwith(9),onecannotderivetheproblematic(10),andthus,onemightthink,
theobjectionfromcorrespondencemightbeavoided.Nowcertainlythisisapossiblesuggestiontheproblem
withit,however,isthatadeflationistwhothinksthat(8*)istrueismostplausiblyconstruedasholdinga
sententialist,ratherthanapropositionalist,versionofdeflationism.Asententialistversionofdeflationism,on
theotherhand,willinturnsupplyaversionof(9),viz.:
(9*)Snowiswhiteistrueiffsnowiswhite
which,atleastitisinterpretedasanecessarytruth,willconspirewith(8*)toyield(10).Andwearebackwhere
westarted.
Anotherresponsewouldbetoobjectthatbecausecreatesanopaquecontextthatis,thekindofcontext
withinwhichonecannotsubstitutecoreferringexpressionsandpreservetruth.Ifbecausecreatesanopaque
context,thenitwouldbeillegitimatetosupposethat(8)and(9)entail(10).Thistooisapossibilityhowever,it
isnotclearthatbecausecreatesopaquecontextoftherightkind.Ingeneralwecandistinguishtwokindsof
opaquecontext:intensionalcontexts,whichallowthesubstitutionofnecessarilycoreferringexpressionsbutnot
contingentlycoreferringexpressionsandhyperintensionalcontexts,whichdonotevenallowthesubstitution
ofnecessarilycoreferringexpressions.Iftheinferencefrom(8)and(9)to(10)istobesuccessfullyblocked,it
isnecessarythatbecausecreatesahyperintensionalcontext.However,itisopentoafriendofthe
correspondenceobjectiontoarguethat,whilebecausecreatesanintensionalcontext,itdoesnotcreateahyper
intensionalcontext.
Afinal,andmostradical,responsewouldbetorejectthecorrespondenceintuitionoutright.Thisresponseisnot
infactasdrasticasitsounds.Inparticular,thedeflationistdoesnothavetosaythatsomeonewhosaysthe
propositionthatsnowiswhitecorrespondstothefactsisspeakingfalsely.Deflationistswoulddobettertosay

thatsuchapersonissimplyusingapicturesqueorornatewayofsayingthatthepropositionistrue,wheretruth
isunderstoodinaccordancewiththedeflationarytheory.Indeed,thedeflationistcanevenagreethatforcertain
rhetoricalorconversationalpurposes,itmightbemoreeffectivetousethecorrespondencetothefactstalk.
Nevertheless,itisimportanttoseethatthisresponsedoesinvolveaburden,sinceitinvolvesrejectinga
conditionofadequacythatmanyregardasbindingonatheoryoftruth

7.3Objection#3:TruthvalueGaps.
Philosophyoflanguagehasisolatedaclassofpropositionsthataresupposedtofailoftruthvalue.Accordingto
somemoralphilosophers,forexample,moralpropositionssuchastheinjunctionthatoneoughttoreturn
people'sphonecallsareneithertruenorfalse.Thesamethingistrue,accordingtosomephilosophersof
language,aboutpropositionswhichpresupposetheexistenceofsomethingwhichdoesnotinfactexistsuch
astheclaimthatthepresentKingofFranceisbaldaboutpropositionsthatarevaguesuchastheproposition
thatwallhangingsarefurnitureandaboutpropositionsthatareparadoxical,suchasthosethatarisein
connectionwiththeliarparadox.Letuscallthisthesisthegap,sinceitfindsagapintheclassofpropositions
betweenthosethataretrueandthosethatarefalse.
Thedeflationarytheoryoftruthisinconsistentwiththerebeingagapintheclassofpropositions,andthishas
beenthoughtbymanytobeanobjectiontothetheory.Thereasonfortheinconsistencyisverysimple,and
flowsdirectlyfromthedeflationisttheoryoffalsitythatweconsideredearlier.Suppose,forreductio,thatthe
gapiscorrectandthusthatthereisapropositionQwhichlacksatruthvalue.Obviously,sinceQlacksatruth
value,itisnotthecasethatitistrueorfalse.Butnowconsidertheequivalenceschema(Fprop):
(Fprop)ThepropositionthatPisfalseifandonlyifthepropositionthatPisnottrue
Itisclearfrom(Fprop)thatifitisnotthecasethatQistrueorfalse,thenitisnotthecasethatQistrueornot
true.Butthatisacontradiction:itmustbethecasethatQistrueornottrue.Wehavebeenledtothis
contradictionbyacceptingthefollowing:theclaimsthatalltheinstancesof(ESprop)and(Fprop)aretrue,the
gap,andclassicallogic.Clearly,then,wemustgiveuponeofthesethings.Butwhich?Andwhichcanwegive
upconsistentlywithdeflationism?
Onestrategythatisobviouslyconsistentwithdeflationismistherejectionofclassicallogic(perhapsrejectingor
restrictingthelawofexcludedmiddle,forexample).Weshalllargelyignorethisapproachhere.Another
strategywouldbetorestrict(ESprop),sothatitisnotassertedthatallinstancesof(ESprop)aretrue(Horwich
1998b).However,therearereasonstobesuspiciousofsucharestriction.Toseethis,considerthefollowingtwo
propositions:
(11)Allinclusivedisjunctionsaretrueifandonlyifoneofthedisjunctsistrue.
(12)AllthepropositionsassertedbythePopearetrue.
Both(11)and(12)aregeneralizationsweexpresswiththehelpofthetruthpredicate.Andyetbothseemto
requirethetruthofallinstancesof(ESprop).Inparticular,wemayuse(12)asawayofacknowledgingour
agreementwitheverythingthePopesaid,evenifsomeofthepropositionsheassertedweremoralpropositions.
Thissuggeststhatweneedtouseanotionoftruthaccordingtowhichinstancesof(ESprop)holdevenfor
moralstatements,andeveniftheyareneithertruenorfalse.
Athirdstrategymodifiesdeflationismbyjettisoningtheaccountoffalsitythatthedeflationistoffers,while
hangingontotheaccountoftruth.Thisstrategyisafairlydesperateone,however.Tobeginwith,ifwegiveup
theaccountoffalsehood,itisnotclearthatwehaveanaccountoftruth.Truthandfalsehoodare,aswehave
said,apackagedeal.Moreover,thedeflationarytheoriesoffalsitythatweconsideredaremotivatedinlargepart
byclassicallogic.Presumably,itwouldbedesirabletomaintainclassicallogicifatallpossible,andthismeans
thatweshouldmaintainthedeflationistaccountoffalsity.Finally,onecangenerateaproblemforthegapeven
ifweoperatewithoutfalsity,andonlywithtruth(Rescher1969).Suppose,againforreductio,thatthereisa
propositionQthatisneithertruenorfalse.Now,ifQisneithertruenorfalse,thenthepropositionthatQistrue

willbefalse.Butthismeansthatforatleastoneinstanceoftheequivalenceschema,onesideofthe
biconditionalwillbefalse,andtheothersidewillbeneithertruenorfalse.Onalllogicsthatinvolvetruthvalue
gaps,however,suchabiconditionalwillbecountedeitherasfalseorelseasneithertruenorfalse.Eitherway,
theresultisthattheequivalenceschemaisnottrueinallinstances.
Afourthstrategyarguesthatthegap,aswehavepresentedit,ismalformed.Accordingtothisstrategy,one
shouldnotrespondtothephenomenathatpromptthegapbysuggestingthatcertainpropositionslacktruth
valuesoneshouldrathersuggestthatcertaindeclarativesentenceslacktruthvalues,i.e.,becausetheyfailto
expresspropositionsatall.Thus,ifwetakepresuppositionfailureasourexample,thesuggestionisthatinstead
ofsupposingthatthepropositionthatthepresentKingofFranceisbalddoesnothaveatruthvalueiftheKing
ofFrancedoesnotexist,oneshouldrathersupposethatthesentencethepresentKingofFranceisbalddoes
notexpressaproposition,andthereforefailstohaveatruthvalue.Thiskindofapproachremovesanyconflict
betweenthegapanddeflationism.Thegapsays,orimplies,thatcertainsentencesfailtoexpresspropositions
deflationismsays,orimplies,thatifthosesentencesdidexpresspropositions,theywouldhavetruthvalues.But
thereisclearlynocontradictioninsupposing,ontheonehand,thatacertainsentencefailstoexpressa
propositionand,ontheother,thatifitdid,itwouldhaveatruthvalue.
Thisstrategyfordealingwiththegapreturnsustotheproblemswementionedearlierconcerningwhichtheories
ofmeaningarecompatiblewithdeflationism.Forexample,somehavearguedthatdeflationismisincompatible
withtruthconditionaltheoriesofmeaningandsocannotacceptthatsomedeclarativesentencesdonothave
truthconditionsorexpresspropositions(e.g.Field1994a,ArmourGarb2001).Evenifthisistrue,however,the
deflationistcanmaintainthatonlymeaningfuldeclarativesentenceshavetruthconditionsorexpressa
propositionandthatausetheoryofmeaningwilldistinguishthemeaningfulsentencesfromthemeaningless.
Still,itisunclearwhetheranyusetheoryofmeaningcanmaketheappropriatedistinctionsforexample,
whetheritcandistinguishThepresentKingofFranceisbaldfromThepresentPrimeMinisterofAustraliais
bald.
Afifthstrategyistorejectthegapentirely,andtosimplyagreethatthereisnogapthatdivideseither
propositionsorsentences.Thismayinitiallyseemtobeanoverreactiontotheinconsistencyofdeflationismand
thegaphowever,whatliesbehindthisstrategyisthethoughtthatitisnotclearthatthevariousphenomenathat
motivatethegapoughttoberegardedasphenomenawhichinvolvefailureoftruthvalue,whetherofsentences
orpropositions.Inthecaseofpresuppositionfailure,forexample,itisnotclearthattheproblemisbest
explainedbyafailureofcertainsentencestohavetruthvalues,orbythepresenceofconventionalor
conversationalimplicaturesthatgovernutterancesofthosesentences.Thepossibilityofabroadlypragmatic
accountofthephenomenasuggeststhatonemightaccommodatetheintuitionsbehindthegapwithout
supposingthatthereisagapintheclassofpropositions(foranexample,seeStalnaker1975).Similarly,inthe
caseofvaguepropositions,onemightadoptepistemicism:thepositionthatvaguewordslikebaldinfacthave
preciseextensions,butthatwecanneverknowwhatthesepreciseextensionsare(seeWilliamson1994,
Horwich1998b).Likethepreviousstrategy,however,moreworkisrequiredtoshowthatthisapproachisable
toaccountforthevariouslinguisticphenomenathatpromptthegap.
Afinalstrategyfordealingwiththegaptakesseriouslythedeflationistideathatattributionsoftruthtoa
propositionhavethesamesemanticvalueasthepropositionstowhichtruthisattributed.Sofarwehave
assumedthatattributionsoftruthtothepropositionQ,whereQlacksatruthvalue,arefalse.However,an
alternativeapproachistosupposethatifQlacksatruthvalue,thenboththepropositionthatQistrueandthe
propositionthatQisfalselacktruthvaluestoo.Thisallowsustoacceptthattheinstancesof(ESprop)
involvingpropositionsthatlacktruthvaluearetrue,sincethetwosidesofthebiconditionalwillhavethesame
semanticvalue.Ofcourse,ifweacceptthelawofexcludedmiddlethatis,weacceptthateitherQornotQ
thenwemustalsoacceptthateitherQistrueornotQistrue.Giventhat,byhypothesis,Qlacksatruth
value,thismayseemodd.Inparticular,itisunclearhowwecanexpressthefactthatQlacksatruthvalue.For
wecannotdescribethiscasebysayingthatQisneithertruenorfalse.
Toavoidthisconsequence,wemaywishtodistinguishtwonotionsoftruthatthispoint.Onenotionoftruth,
callittheweaknotion(Yablo1985,Field1994b),isimplicitlydefinedbytheinstancesof(weakES),allof

whichareassertedtohold.
(weakES)thepropositionthatpisweaklytrueifandonlyifp
Becauseallinstancesof(weakES)aretrue,itistheweaknotionthatisrequiredtoexpress(11).
(11)Allinclusivedisjunctionsaretrueifandonlyifoneofthedisjunctsistrue.
Inshort,weaktruthissuchthatattributionsofweaktruthtoatruthbearerhavethesamesemanticvalueasthe
truthbeareritself.Incontrast,astrongnotionoftruthwillnotmakeallinstancesof(strongES)hold.
(strongES)thepropositionthatpisstronglytrueifandonlyifp.
Inparticular,propositionsthatlacktruthvaluewillfalsify(strongES).Thisstrongnotionoftruthappearstobe
requiredifwewishtosaythatitisneithertruethatQnortruethatnotQ.Forthesesortsofreasons,somehave
suggestedthatordinarytruthtalkvacillatesbetweenusingaweakandastrongnotionoftruth(seeField1994b,
McGee2005).Ifthisisright,thenperhapsdeflationistscanfocusontheweaknotionoftruthasprimary,andtry
todefineupastrongnotionoftruthfromitandadditionalresourcesconsistentwiththeirposition(seeField
1994bforanattempt).
Thereare,then,anumberofstrategiesfordealingwiththegapthatareprimafaciecompatiblewith
deflationism.However,ineachcasetherearereasonstoworryabouteithertheplausibilityofthestrategy,or
aboutwhether,oncloserinspection,deflationismwillturnouttobeinconsistentwiththestrategy.

7.4Objection#4:ConsistencyandAdequacy
Oneofthemajortasksofphilosophicallogicinthetwentiethcenturyhasbeentoprovideatheoryoftruththat
candealwiththeancientproblemoftheliarparadox.Considerthefollowingproposition.
(TheLiar)TheLiarisnottrue.
Ifweaccepttherelevantinstanceof(ESprop)forTheLiar,andclassicallogic,thencontradictionquickly
follows.Moreover,sincederivingthiscontradictiondoesnotrelyonthesuppositionthatsomepropositionis
neithertruenorfalse,appealingtoaweaknotionoftruthwillnothelpwiththisproblem.Indeed,sincetheweak
notionoftruthimpliesthatallinstancesof(ESprop)aretrue,itispreciselythisnotionoftruththatallowsthe
contradictiontobederived.Astrongernotionoftruththatrestricted(ESprop)incertainwaysmightbeableto
avoidtheliarparadox.
Partlyforthisreason,anumberofphilosophershaverecentlyarguedthatTheLiarposesaspecialproblemfor
deflationarytheoriesoftruth(seeBeallandArmourGarb(eds.)2005).Thatis,sinceitisunclearwhether
deflationistscanappealtoastrongnotionoftruth,theyseemtobeataspecialdisadvantageindealingwiththe
liarparadox.Moreover,ithasbeenarguedthatoneparticularwayofmotivatingarestrictionof(ESprop)is
incompatiblewithdeflationism:namely,thatparadoxicalsentenceslikeTheLiararemeaningless,ordonot
expresspropositions.(ArmourGarb2001butseeBeall2001foracontraryview.)
However,aswementionedabove,notalldeflationarytheoriesarecommittedtothetruthofallinstancesof(ES
prop).Horwich'sminimaltheoryoftruth,forexample,onlyconsistsofallthenonpathologicalinstancesof
(ESprop).OnepossibledeflationistresponsetoTheLiar,then,istosimplybartheproblematicinstancesof
(ESprop)fromthetheoryoftruth.Thereareseveralproblemswiththisstrategy.Forone,bymakingthisadhoc
manoeuvrewelosetheabilitytoexplainwhythepathologicalinstancesof(ESprop)arepathological.Afterall,
itissurelysomethingabouttheconceptoftruth,andinparticulartheroleoftherelevantinstancesof(ESprop),
thatexplainswhytheliarparadoxarises(Soames1999,Gupta2006).Anotherproblemisthatitisverydifficult,
ifnotimpossible,tospelloutinadvancewhichinstancesof(ESprop)areparadoxical(Kripke1975,McGee
1992,Yablo1993).Afinalproblemisthatitappearsweneedtoassumethattheparadoxicalinstancesof(ES
prop)aretrueifwearetoassert(11)(ArmourGarb2004,Gupta2006).

(11)Allinclusivedisjunctionsaretrueifandonlyifoneofthedisjunctsistrue.
Theseproblemsfacingaccountsthatmerelyrestricttheinstancesoftheequivalenceschemasuggestan
alternativedeflationistresponsetotheliar.ForboththefactthatTheLiar'sinstanceof(ESprop)isrequiredto
explainits(TheLiar's)pathology,andthefactthatweneedTheLiar'sinstanceof(ESprop)toassert(11),give
usgoodreasontosupposethateventheparadoxicalinstancesof(ESprop)aretrue.Moreover,thesereasons
holdwhetherwearedeflationistsorinflationists.Ifthisisright,then,sincetheparadoxisgeneratedmerely
fromtherelevantinstanceof(ESprop)byclassicallogic,TheLiarposesnospecialproblemfordeflationists
(Gupta2006).Andsinceeveryone'sproblemisnoone's,theliarparadoxcannotbeusedagainstdeflationists.
Thisdefenceofdeflationismcanbebolsteredbynotingthat,likeinflationists,deflationistscantrytodealwith
theliarparadoxbymodifyingclassicallogic(Field2003),byadoptingepistemicism(Restall2006),orby
adoptingarevisiontheory(GuptaandBelnap1993).(SeealsoMaudlin2004.)
However,thereisafurtherlineofargumentthatsuggeststhereisaspecialproblemfordeflationistsinthis
vicinity.Theidealtheoryoftruthwillbebothconsistent(e.g.avoidstheliarparadox)andadequate(e.g.allows
ustoderivealltheessentiallawsoftruth,like(11)).Yetithasbeenrecentlyarguedthatevenifdeflationistscan
giveaconsistenttheoryoftruth,theycannotprovideanadequatetheory.Theargumentforthisconclusionturns
onthenotionofaconservativeextensionofatheory.Informally,aconservativeextensionofatheoryisonethat
doesnotallowustoproveanysentencesthatcouldn'tbeprovedfromtheoriginal,unextendedtheory.More
formally,andappliedtotheoriesoftruth,atruththeory,TrisconservativeoversometheoryTformulatedin
languageLifandonlyifforeverysentenceofLinwhichthetruthpredicatedoesn'toccur,ifTrL,
thenL.Asiswellknown,certaintruththeoriesareconservativeoverarithmetice.g.theoriesthat
implicitlydefinetruthusingonlytheinstancesof(ESprop)andcertaintruththeoriesarenote.g.Tarski's
compositionaltheory(Tarski1944).Specifically,theadditionofcertaintruththeoriesallowsustoprovethat
arithmeticisconsistent,somethingwefamouslycan'tdoifweareconfinedtoarithmeticitself.
Now,ithasrecentlybeenargued(a)thatconservativetruththeoriesareinadequateand(b)deflationistsare
committedtoconservativetruththeories(Shapiro1998,Ketland1999).Thedetailsoftheargumentsfor(a)are
complicatedandwewillpassoverthemhere(butseeField1999forcriticism).Togetaflavourofthe
argumentsfor(b),considerShapiro'srhetoricalquestion:Howthincanthenotionofarithmetictruthbe,ifby
invokingitwecanlearnmoreaboutthenaturalnumbers?Shapiroissurelyrighttopressdeflationistsontheir
frequentclaimsthattruthis'thin'or'insubstantial'.Itmightalsobeaworryfordeflationistsifanyadequatetruth
theoryallowedustoderivenonlogicaltruths,giventhecommondeflationistassertionthattruthisalogical
property.Ontheotherhand,deflationiststhemselvesinsistthattruthisanexpressivelyusefuldevice,andso
theycannotbefaultedmerelyforpromotingatheoryoftruththatallowsustosaymoreaboutmattersnot
involvingtruth.Whetherthereismoreofaworryfordeflationistsinthenonconservativenessofcertaintruth
theoriesdependsonsubtlequestionsaboutwhatsortofaxiomscountasessentiallawsoftruthandwhetherall
conservativetruththeoriesareinadequate(Shapiro1998,Field1999,Ketland1999).Perhapsmostimportantly,
though,thedebateoverconservativenesshighlightshowunclearweareaboutthecommitmentsofdeflationism.

7.5Objection#5:Normativity.
Itiscommonlysaidthatourbeliefsandassertionsaimattruth.Theideahere,ofcourse,isnotthatourbeliefs
andassertionsarealwaystrueinastatisticalsense,oreventhattheyaremostlytrue.Theideaisratherthattruth
isanormofassertion.Thisfactaboutassertionandtruthhasoftenbeenseentosuggestthatdeflationismmust
befalse.However,thefeltcontradictionbetweennormativityanddeflationismisdifficulttomakeprecise.
Thefirstthingtosayisthatthereiscertainlyasenseinwhichdeflationismisnotinconsistentwiththeideathat
truthisanormofassertion.Toillustratethis,noticethatwecanobtainanintuitiveunderstandingofthecontent
ofthisideawithoutmentioningtruthatall,solongaswefocusonaparticularcase.Supposeforwhatever
reasonthatMarysincerelybelievesthatsnowisgreen,hasgoodevidenceforthisbelief,andonthebasisofthis
beliefandevidenceassertsthatsnowisgreen.Wemightsaythatthereisanormofassertionwhichimpliesthat
Maryisinthiscaseopentocriticism.Afterall,sincesnowisevidentlynotgreen,theremustbesomething
incorrectordefectiveaboutMary'sassertionthatitis.Itisthisincorrectionordefectivenessthattheideathat

truthisanormofassertionistryingtocapture.
Butnowletusseeifwecangiveageneralstatementofthenormthatliesbehindthisparticularcase.The
problemofprovidingageneralstatementseemstobedifficult,andforreasonsthatbynowshouldbefamiliar.
Tostatethenormingeneralwewouldneedtobeabletodosomethingwecannotreallydo,namely,tocomplete
aninfiniteconjunctionofsomethinglikethefollowingform:
Ifsomeoneassertsthatsnowisgreen,andsnowisnotgreenthenheorsheisopentocriticism,and
ifsomeoneassertsthatgrassispurple,andgrassisnotpurplethenheorsheisopentocriticism,
andsoon.
Giventheequivalenceschema(Fprop*)providedbythedeflationarytheoryoffalsity,however,thisinfinite
conjunctioncanbereformulatedas:
Ifsomeoneassertsthatsnowisgreenandthepropositionthatsnowisgreenisfalse,thenheorshe
isopentocriticism,andifsomeoneassertsthatgrassispurpleandthepropositionthatgrassis
purpleisfalse,thenheorsheisopentocriticism,andsoon.
Inturn,thisreformulatedinfiniteconjunctioncanbereformulatedasastatementwhoseuniversalquantifier
rangesoverpropositions:
Forallpropositionsp,ifsomeoneassertsthatp,andpisfalse,thenheorsheisopentocriticism
Or,toputitassomephilosophersmight:
Truthisanormofassertion.
Forafterall,iftruthisanormofassertion,then,ifyouassertsomethingfalse,youareopentocriticism.In
short,then,deflationistsarecertainlynotdenyingthattruthisanormofassertiononthecontrary,theconcept
oftruthisrequiredtostatethatverygeneralization.
Iftheproblemofnormativityisnotthestraightforwardonethatdeflationistscannotaccountfortheideathat
truthisanormofassertion,whatistheproblem?CrispinWrightarguesthattheproblemisnotsomuchthat
deflationistscannotaccountfornormativityrather,hesuggeststhattheproblemistwofold:first,thatanytheory
oftruththatdoesaccountfornormativityisipsofactonotadeflationarytheoryproperlysocalled,andsecond,
thatanytheoryoftruthwhichemploystheequivalenceschemascanaccountfornormativity(Wright1992and
seePrice1998fordiscussion).Theresultisthat,sincemostcontemporaryvarietiesofdeflationismevidently
employtheequivalenceschemas,mostcontemporaryvarietiesofdeflationismarenotvarietiesofdeflationism
properlysocalled.
Wright'sobjectionfromnormativityisadifficultonetoassess.Foronething,itisdifficulttofindWright's
reasonforsupposingthattheequivalenceschemasplaysuchacentralroleintheexplanationofnormativity.As
wehaveseen,theequivalenceschemasarecrucialinprovidingageneralstatementoftheideathattruthisa
normofassertion,butthereseemsforallthatnointernalconnectionbetweentruthandthenorminquestion,and
thusnointernalconnectionbetweentheequivalenceschemasandthatnorm(cf.Price1998).Norisitclearwhat
rolenormativityplaysinthedistinctionbetweenaninflationaryandadeflationarytheoryoftruth.Certainlyitis
notgoodenoughtosimplydefinedeflationismsothatanydeflationarytheorycannotaccountfornormativity.
Ofcourse,itisaconsequenceofadefinitionofthissortthatatheoryoftruthiseitherinflationaryorfalsebut
thenagain,nodeflationistwillacceptthedefinition.
WhateveronethinksofthedetailsofWright'sobjection,however,itdoeshavefarreachingconsequencesfor
deflationismabouttruth.Whattheobjectionforcesustoconsideristhepossibilitythatthereisnoveryclear
distinctionbetweenaninflationaryandadeflationarytheoryoftruth.Indeed,thispossibilitythatthereisno
clearinflationary/deflationarydistinctionisthetopicofthefinalobjectiontodeflationismthatwewill
discuss.

7.6Objection#6:InflationistDeflationism?
ThefinalobjectionbeginsbydrawingattentiontoalittleknowndoctrineabouttruththatG.E.Mooreheldatthe
beginningofthecentury.RichardCartwrightdescribestheviewasfollows:atruepropositionisonethathasa
certainsimpleunanalyzableproperty,andafalsepropositionisonethatlackstheproperty(1987,p.73).This
doctrineabouttruthis,ofcourse,tobeunderstoodastheanaloguefortruthofthedoctrinethatMooreheld
aboutgood,namelythatgoodisasimple,unanalyzablequality.
TheproblemthatthisMooreanviewabouttruthpresentsforthedeflationarytheorymightbestbeexpressedin
theformofaquestion:whatisthedifferencebetweentheMooreanviewanddeflationism?Ofcourse,thereisa
senseinwhichtheflavouroftheMooreanviewisverydifferentfromtheflavourofthedeflationisttheoryabout
truth.Afterall,whatcouldbemoreinflationarythanthinkingthattruthisapropertyofapropositionthatis
unanalyzable?CertainlyMoore'sviewaboutgoodhasbeenviewedinthislight.However,thefactthatoneview
hasadifferentflavourfromanotherdoesnotmeanthat,atbottom,theyarenotthesameview.Onemight
perhapssuggestthat,accordingtothedeflationarytheory,theconceptoftruthhasanimportantlogicalrole,i.e.,
tocapturegeneralizations.However,thisdoesn'treallyanswerourquestion.Foronething,itisn'tclearthat
Moore'snotionmightnotalsocapturegeneralizations.Foranother,theideathatthedeflationaryconceptoftruth
playsanimportantlogicalroledoesn'tdistinguishthemetaphysicsofdeflationismfromthemetaphysicsofthe
Mooreanviewanditisthemetaphysicsofthematterthatthepresentobjectionreallybringsintofocus.
Alternatively,onemightsuggestthatthedistinctionbetweentruthaccordingtodeflationismandtruthaccording
toMoore'sviewisthedistinctionbetweenhavingasimpleunanalyzablenature,andnothavinganatureatall.
However,whatisthatdistinction?Itiscertainlynotobviousthatthereisanydistinctionbetweenhavinga
natureaboutwhichnothingcanbesaidandhavingnonatureatall.
Theproblemisparticularlyacuteinlightofthefactthatdeflationismhasoftenbeendiscussedinthecontextof
variousclaimsaboutreductionism.Inmanydiscussionsofdeflationism,forexample,theopponentisassumed
tobeaparticularversionofacorrespondencetheorythatattemptstoreducethecorrespondencerelationto
certainrelationsofcausation(Field1986isagoodexample).However,itshouldbenotedthatthiskindofview
isalsoopposedtothekindofpositionthattakessemanticfactssuchasaproposition'sbeingtrueasprimitive
(Field1972isagoodexample).Andtheproblemthatweareconsideringfordeflationismisthatthesetwo
viewsarenotsimplyidenticalinbeingopposedtothekindofviewthatexplainscorrespondenceintermsof
causation:itisthattheyareidenticalsimpliciter.Thesuggestion,inshort,isthatdeflationismisidenticalto
whatinitiallyseemstobeitscompleteopposite,Mooreaninflationism.
Thedecisiontobeaninflationistoradeflationistabouttruthhasbeencalledthebiggestdecisionatheoristof
truthmustmake(Boghossian1990).Certainlythisistrueatanintuitivelevel.Butitissoberingalsotorealize
thatitisnotexactlyclearwhatthisdecisionamountstowhensubjectedtophilosophicalscrutiny.Andthis
suggeststhatthereisstillalotofworktobedonebeforewecanarriveatafinalevaluationofthedeflationary
theoryoftruth.

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Acknowledgments
WewouldliketoexpressourthankstoStewartCandlish,JamesChase,JacobHohwy,GrahamOppy,andHuw
Priceforhelpinconstructingthisentry.
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DanielStoljar<daniel.stoljar@anu.edu.au>
NicDamnjanovic<nicolas.damnjanovic@uwa.edu.au>

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