Deflationism and Truth-Value Gaps

In Nikolaj Pedersen & Cory D. Wright (eds.), New Waves inTruth. Palgrave-Macmillan (2010)

Abstract

Central to any form of Deflationism concerning truth (hereafter ‘DT’) is the claim that truth has no substantial theoretical role to play. For this reason, DT faces the following immediate challenge: if truth can play no substantial theoretical role then how can we model various prevalent kinds of indeterminacy—such as the indeterminacy exhibited by vague predicates, future contingents, liar sentences, truth-teller sentences, incomplete stipulations, cases of presupposition failure, and such-like? It is too hasty to assume that these phenomena are all to be modelled via some epistemic conception of indeterminacy whereby indeterminacy is just some special species of ignorance which arises because of our limited powers of discrimination. Some non-epistemic model is called for—at least for certain species of indeterminacy. On what is perhaps the most enduring and popular non-epistemic model, indeterminacy gives rise to truth-value gaps. But is DT compatible with the possibility of truth-value gaps? Compatibilism says Yes; Incompatibilism says No. The broad goal of this paper is to defend a form of Incompatibilism. If DT is to make sense of various kinds of indeterminacy then truth-value gaps cannot be invoked to do so. The particular goals of this paper are: (i) To set forth a new form of Compatibilism which can address an argument against truth-value gaps given by Williamson (1994, pp. 187-192). (ii) To offer a new argument against truth-value gaps using principles entailed by DT, thereby undermining Compatibilism.

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