From a Deflationary Point of View

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For, in the first place, such a view of truth substantially affects what we should say about neighboring concepts such as "reality," "meaning," and "rationality.

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The essays reprinted here were written over the last twenty five years. They represent Paul Horwich's development of the deflationary perspective and demonstrate its considerable power and fertility. They concern a broad array of philosophical problems: the nature of truth, realism vs. They appear as originally published except for the correction of obvious mistakes, the interpolation of clarifying material, and the inclusion of new footnotes to indicate Horwich's subsequent directions of thought.

Specifications Publisher Clarendon Press. Customer Reviews. Write a review. See any care plans, options and policies that may be associated with this product. Email address. Please enter a valid email address. Walmart Services. Get to Know Us. Customer Service. In The Spotlight. Shop Our Brands. In modern times, the money supply is most influenced by central banks , such as the Federal Reserve. When the supply of money and credit falls, without a corresponding decrease in economic output, then the prices of all goods tend to fall. Periods of deflation most commonly occur after long periods of artificial monetary expansion.

The early s was the last time significant deflation was experienced in the United States. The major contributor to this deflationary period was the fall in the money supply following catastrophic bank failures. Other nations, such as Japan in the s, have experienced deflation in modern times. World-renowned economist Milton Friedman argued that under optimal policy, in which the central bank seeks a rate of deflation equal to the real interest rate on government bonds, the nominal rate should be zero, and the price level should fall steadily at the real rate of interest.

His theory birthed the Friedman rule, a monetary policy rule. However, declining prices can be caused by a number of other factors: a decline in aggregate demand a decrease in the total demand for goods and services and increased productivity. A decline in aggregate demand typically results in subsequent lower prices. Causes of this shift include reduced government spending, stock market failure, consumer desire to increase savings, and tightening monetary policies higher interest rates.

Falling prices can also happen naturally when the output of the economy grows faster than the supply of circulating money and credit. This occurs especially when technology advances the productivity of an economy, and is often concentrated in goods and industries which benefit from technological improvements. Companies operate more efficiently as technology advances. These operational improvements lead to lower production costs and cost savings transferred to consumers in the form of lower prices. This is distinct from but similar to general price deflation, which is a general decrease in the price level and increase in the purchasing power of money.

Price deflation through increased productivity is different in specific industries. For example, consider how increased productivity affects the technology sector. In the last few decades, improvements in technology have resulted in significant reductions in the average cost per gigabyte of data. This reduction caused the prices of manufactured products that use this technology to also fall significantly.

Following the Great Depression, when monetary deflation coincided with high unemployment and rising defaults , most economists believed deflation was an adverse phenomenon. Thereafter, most central banks adjusted monetary policy to promote consistent increases in the money supply, even if it promoted chronic price inflation and encouraged debtors to borrow too much. British economist John Maynard Keynes cautioned against deflation as he believed it contributed to the downward cycle of economic pessimism during recessions when owners of assets saw their asset prices fall, and so cut back on their willingness to invest.

Do these objects have the property of existence? Well, in one sense, they do: they both exist so they both have the property of existence. On the other hand, however, there is no common explanation as to why they both exist. What explains the existence of the Great Wall is the architectural and defense policies of classical China; what explains the existence of Hillary Rodham Clinton is Mr and Mrs Rodham.

We might then say that existence is not a property and mean by this that it does not follow from the fact that two things exist that there is a common explanation as to why they exist. But now compare the property of existence with the property of being a mammal. If two things are mammals, they have the property of being a mammal, but in addition there is some common explanation as to why they are both mammals — both are descended from the same family of creatures, say. According to deflationism, the property of being true is more like the property of existence than it is like the property of being a mammal.

Depending on one's views about what it takes to be a property, then, one might be tempted to say here that being true is not a property, because it is not like being a mammal. Truth and falsity are a package deal. It would be hard to imagine someone having the concept of truth without also having the concept of falsity.

One obvious question to ask the proponent of the deflationary theory of truth, then, is how the theory is to be extended to falsity.

From a deflationary point of view

A natural account of the concept of falsity defines it in terms of the concept of truth. Thus, someone has the concept of falsehood just in case they accept instances of the schema:. A second, and initially slightly different, account of falsity defines it directly in terms of negation.

According to this view, someone has the concept of falsity just in case they accept instances of the schema:. The key idea here is that there seems no reason to distinguish being true from being the case. As we will shortly see, this account of falsity, though certainly a natural one, leaves the deflationary theory open to an important objection concerning truth-value gaps.

Our concern to this point has been only with what the deflationary theory is. In the remainder of this article, we consider six objections. These are by no means the only objections that have been advanced against deflationism — Horwich b considers thirty-nine different objections! We noted earlier that deflationism can be presented in either a sententialist version or a propositionalist version. Some philosophers have suggested, however, that the choice between these two versions constitutes a dilemma for deflationism Jackson, Oppy and Smith The objection is that if deflationism is construed in accordance with propositionalism, then it is trivial, but if it is construed in accordance with sententialism it is false.

To illustrate the dilemma, consider the following claim:. Now, does snow is white refer to a sentence or a proposition? If, on the one hand, we take 7 to be about a sentence, then, assuming 7 can be interpreted as making a necessary claim, 7 is false. But this is a fact about language that 7 ignores. On the other hand, suppose we take snow is white to denote a proposition; in particular, suppose we take it to denote the proposition that snow is white.

Then the theory looks to be trivial, since the proposition that snow is white is defined as being true just in case snow is white. In short, the deflationist is faced with a dilemma: take deflationism to be a theory of sentences and it is false; take it to be a theory of propositions, on the other hand, and it is trivial.

Of the two horns of this dilemma, it might seem that the best strategy for deflationists is to remain with the propositionalist version of their doctrine and accept its triviality.

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A trivial doctrine, after all, at least has the advantage of being true. Moreover, the charge of triviality is something that deflationists might well be expected to wear as a badge of honor: since deflationists are advocating their theory as following from mundane facts about which everyone can agree, it is no wonder that the theory they advocate is trivial. However, there are a number of reasons why deflationists have typically not endorsed this option. First, the triviality at issue here does not have its source in the concept of truth, but rather in the concept of a proposition. After all, if deflationists are attending only to propositions, they are evidently not attending to the relation between sentences and propositions.

Of course, one might point out that other theories of truth are also silent on the theory of meaning — why then can deflationism not be? However, the fact is that many deflationists present their doctrine as a central part of a much bigger philosophical project, viz.

The problem for deflationists who grasp the second horn of the dilemma is that they must admit that there is no way to complete this project: the deflationary theory of truth can only be maintained by remaining silent about the theory of meaning. And this means that deflationism should be understood as a much more modest project than it is often taken to be.

The other possible response to this dilemma is to accept that deflationism applies inter alia to sentences, but to argue that the sentences to which it applies must be interpreted sentences, i. Of course, if the sentences to which deflationism applies are interpreted sentences, then there will be no force to the objection that deflationism is ignoring the fact that sentences have meaning. Deflationism, on this interpretation, is not so much ignoring this fact as assuming it.

On either plausible response to the dilemma, then, the deflationist makes use of the notion of meaning to explain truth. This fact has led a number of philosophers to argue that, on pain of circularity, deflationism cannot be combined with theories of meaning that make use of the notion of truth to explain meaning — in particular, that deflationism is incompatible with truth-conditional theories of meaning e.

Dummett , Davidson , Horwich b, Kalderon , Collins Other philosophers have also suggested that deflationism is incompatible with truth-conditional theories of meaning on the grounds that granting truth any kind of explanatory role is inconsistent with deflationism Davidson , Field , If deflationism is inconsistent with truth-conditional theories of meaning, this is not obviously an objection to deflationism.

After all, there are alternative theories of meaning available: both Paul Horwich and Hartry Field have in different ways defended a version of a use theory of meaning see Field a, Horwich a. There is, however, a lot of work to be done before a use theory can be regarded as a successful theory of meaning. What about the claim that deflationism is inconsistent with truth-conditional theories of meaning?

Japan's 20-Year Deflationary Spiral Is About To End

As William G. Lycan notes Bar-On et al , the charges of circularity in the literature have been impressionistic and so remain difficult to evaluate. Moreover, on the surface at least, the circularity charge would seem to show that even inflationism about truth is inconsistent with truth-conditional theories of meaning, since all theories of truth will have to take meaning for granted in some sense — for example, in deciding which sentences are truth-apt For criticisms of the circularity charge, see Gupta , Horisk , Lance , Williams On the other hand, worries about the explanatory role truth plays in truth-conditional theories of meaning can only be evaluated if we know, first, what sort of explanatory role truth plays in such theories, and, second, what sort of explanatory roles are ruled out by deflationism.

It seems clear, for example, that if the concept of truth is only employed in truth-conditional theories of meaning as a device of generalization, there is no inconsistency with deflationary theories of truth. But does truth have only this role in truth-conditional theories of meaning? The compatibility of deflationism about truth and truth-conditional theories of meaning seems to us an important and unanswered question.

From a Deflationary Point of View - Oxford Scholarship

It is often said that what is most obvious about truth is that truth consists in correspondence to the facts — for example, that the truth of the proposition that the earth revolves around the sun consists in its correspondence to the fact that the earth revolves around the sun. The so-called correspondence theory of truth is built around this intuition, and tries to explain the notion of truth by appeal to the notions of correspondence and fact.

Even if one does not build one's theory of truth around this intuition however, many philosophers regard it as a condition of adequacy on any theory of truth that the theory accommodates the correspondence intuition. It is often objected to deflationism, however, that the doctrine has particular trouble meeting this adequacy condition.

One way to bring out the problem here is by focusing on a particular articulation of the correspondence intuition, an articulation favoured by deflationists themselves Horwich b. We might express this by saying that someone who endorses the correspondence intuition so understood would endorse:.

Now, the problem with 8 is that, when we combine it with the deflationary theory-or at least with a necessary version of that theory-we can derive something that is plainly false. Someone who holds a necessary version of deflationism would clearly be committed to the necessary truth of:. And, since 9 is a necessary truth, it is very plausible to suppose that 8 and 9 together entail:. Unfortunately, however, 10 is false.

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But the relata in 10 are obviously not distinct. Hence 10 is false. But this means that the conjunction of 8 and 9 must be false, and that deflationism is inconsistent with the correspondence intuition. To borrow a phrase of Mark Johnston's — who mounts a similar argument in a different context — we might put the point differently by saying that, if deflationism is true, then what seems to be a perfectly good explanation in 8 goes missing ; if deflationism is true, after all, then 8 is equivalent to 10 , and 10 is not an explanation of anything.

How might a deflationist respond to this objection? One response is to provide a different articulation of the correspondence intuition. For example, one might point out that the connection between the proposition that snow is white and snow's being white is not a contingent connection, and suggest that this rules out 8 as a successful articulation of the correspondence intuition.

A sententialist version of deflationism, on the other hand, will in turn supply a version of 9 , viz. And we are back where we started. In general we can distinguish two kinds of opaque context: intensional contexts, which allow the substitution of necessarily co-referring expressions but not contingently co-referring expressions; and hyper-intensional contexts, which do not even allow the substitution of necessarily co-referring expressions. A final, and most radical, response would be to reject the correspondence intuition outright. This response is not in fact as drastic as it sounds.

Deflationists would do better to say that such a person is simply using a picturesque or ornate way of saying that the proposition is true, where truth is understood in accordance with the deflationary theory. Nevertheless, it is important to see that this response does involve a burden, since it involves rejecting a condition of adequacy that many regard as binding on a theory of truth. Philosophy of language has isolated a class of propositions that are supposed to fail of truth-value.

According to some moral philosophers, for example, moral propositions — such as the injunction that one ought to return people's phone calls — are neither true nor false. The same thing is true, according to some philosophers of language, about propositions which presuppose the existence of something which does not in fact exist — such as the claim that the present King of France is bald; about propositions that are vague — such as the proposition that wall hangings are furniture; and about propositions that are paradoxical, such as those that arise in connection with the liar paradox.

Let us call this thesis the gap, since it finds a gap in the class of propositions between those that are true and those that are false. The deflationary theory of truth is inconsistent with there being a gap in the class of propositions, and this has been thought by many to be an objection to the theory. The reason for the inconsistency is very simple, and flows directly from the deflationist theory of falsity that we considered earlier. Suppose, for reductio, that the gap is correct and thus that there is a proposition Q which lacks a truth-value.

Obviously, since Q lacks a truth-value, it is not the case that it is true or false. But now consider the equivalence schema F-prop :. It is clear from F-prop that if it is not the case that Q is true or false, then it is not the case that Q is true or not true. But that is a contradiction: it must be the case that Q is true or not true. We have been led to this contradiction by accepting the following: the claims that all the instances of ES-prop and F-prop are true, the gap, and classical logic.

Clearly, then, we must give up one of these things. But which? And which can we give up consistently with deflationism? One strategy that is obviously consistent with deflationism is the rejection of classical logic perhaps rejecting or restricting the law of excluded middle, for example. We shall largely ignore this approach here.

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Another strategy would be to restrict ES-prop , so that it is not asserted that all instances of ES-prop are true Horwich b. However, there are reasons to be suspicious of such a restriction. To see this, consider the following two propositions:. Both 11 and 12 are generalizations we express with the help of the truth predicate. And yet both seem to require the truth of all instances of ES-prop. In particular, we may use 12 as a way of acknowledging our agreement with everything the Pope said, even if some of the propositions he asserted were moral propositions.

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This suggests that we need to use a notion of truth according to which instances of ES-prop hold even for moral statements, and even if they are neither true nor false. A third strategy modifies deflationism by jettisoning the account of falsity that the deflationist offers, while hanging on to the account of truth. This strategy is a fairly desperate one, however. To begin with, if we give up the account of falsehood, it is not clear that we have an account of truth.

Truth and falsehood are, as we have said, a package deal. Moreover, the deflationary theories of falsity that we considered are motivated in large part by classical logic. Presumably, it would be desirable to maintain classical logic if at all possible, and this means that we should maintain the deflationist account of falsity. Finally, one can generate a problem for the gap even if we operate without falsity, and only with truth Rescher Suppose, again for reductio, that there is a proposition Q that is neither true nor false.

Now, if Q is neither true nor false, then the proposition that Q is true will be false. But this means that for at least one instance of the equivalence schema, one side of the biconditional will be false, and the other side will be neither true nor false. On all logics that involve truth-value gaps, however, such a biconditional will be counted either as false or else as neither true nor false.

Either way, the result is that the equivalence schema is not true in all instances. A fourth strategy argues that the gap, as we have presented it, is malformed. According to this strategy, one should not respond to the phenomena that prompt the gap by suggesting that certain propositions lack truth values; one should rather suggest that certain declarative sentences lack truth values, i.

This kind of approach removes any conflict between the gap and deflationism. The gap says, or implies, that certain sentences fail to express propositions; deflationism says, or implies, that if those sentences did express propositions, they would have truth values. But there is clearly no contradiction in supposing, on the one hand, that a certain sentence fails to express a proposition and, on the other, that if it did, it would have a truth value. This strategy for dealing with the gap returns us to the problems we mentioned earlier concerning which theories of meaning are compatible with deflationism.

For example, some have argued that deflationism is incompatible with truth-conditional theories of meaning and so cannot accept that some declarative sentences do not have truth-conditions or express propositions e. Field a, Armour-Garb Even if this is true, however, the deflationist can maintain that only meaningful declarative sentences have truth-conditions or express a proposition and that a use theory of meaning will distinguish the meaningful sentences from the meaningless.

A fifth strategy is to reject the gap entirely, and to simply agree that there is no gap that divides either propositions or sentences. This may initially seem to be an overreaction to the inconsistency of deflationism and the gap; however, what lies behind this strategy is the thought that it is not clear that the various phenomena that motivate the gap ought to be regarded as phenomena which involve failure of truth value, whether of sentences or propositions.

In the case of presupposition failure, for example, it is not clear that the problem is best explained by a failure of certain sentences to have truth values, or by the presence of conventional or conversational implicatures that govern utterances of those sentences. The possibility of a broadly pragmatic account of the phenomena suggests that one might accommodate the intuitions behind the gap without supposing that there is a gap in the class of propositions for an example, see Stalnaker Like the previous strategy, however, more work is required to show that this approach is able to account for the various linguistic phenomena that prompt the gap.

A final strategy for dealing with the gap takes seriously the deflationist idea that attributions of truth to a proposition have the same semantic value as the propositions to which truth is attributed. So far we have assumed that attributions of truth to the proposition Q , where Q lacks a truth value, are false. However, an alternative approach is to suppose that if Q lacks a truth value, then both the proposition that Q is true and the proposition that Q is false lack truth values too.

This allows us to accept that the instances of ES-prop involving propositions that lack truth value are true, since the two sides of the biconditional will have the same semantic value. Of course, if we accept the law of excluded middle — that is, we accept that either Q or not- Q — then we must also accept that either Q is true or not- Q is true. Given that, by hypothesis, Q lacks a truth value, this may seem odd.

In particular, it is unclear how we can express the fact that Q lacks a truth value. For we cannot describe this case by saying that Q is neither true nor false. To avoid this consequence, we may wish to distinguish two notions of truth at this point. One notion of truth, call it the weak notion Yablo , Field b , is implicitly defined by the instances of weak-ES , all of which are asserted to hold.

Because all instances of weak-ES are true, it is the weak notion that is required to express In short, weak truth is such that attributions of weak truth to a truth-bearer have the same semantic value as the truth-bearer itself. In contrast, a strong notion of truth will not make all instances of strong-ES hold. In particular, propositions that lack truth value will falsify strong-ES.

This strong notion of truth appears to be required if we wish to say that it is neither true that Q nor true that not- Q. For these sorts of reasons, some have suggested that ordinary truth-talk vacillates between using a weak and a strong notion of truth see Field b, McGee If this is right, then perhaps deflationists can focus on the weak notion of truth as primary, and try to define up a strong notion of truth from it and additional resources consistent with their position see Field b for an attempt.

There are, then, a number of strategies for dealing with the gap that are prima facie compatible with deflationism. However, in each case there are reasons to worry about either the plausibility of the strategy, or about whether, on closer inspection, deflationism will turn out to be inconsistent with the strategy. One of the major tasks of philosophical logic in the twentieth century has been to provide a theory of truth that can deal with the ancient problem of the liar paradox.

Consider the following proposition. If we accept the relevant instance of ES-prop for The Liar, and classical logic, then contradiction quickly follows. Moreover, since deriving this contradiction does not rely on the supposition that some proposition is neither true nor false, appealing to a weak notion of truth will not help with this problem. Indeed, since the weak notion of truth implies that all instances of ES-prop are true, it is precisely this notion of truth that allows the contradiction to be derived.