Truth and Its Uses: Deflationism and Alethic Pluralism

Synthese 202 (130):1-24 (2023)
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Deflationists believe that the question “What is truth?” should be answered not by means of a metaphysical inquiry into the nature of truth, but by figuring out what use we make of the concept of truth, and the word ‘true’, in practice. This article accepts this methodology, and it thereby rejects pluralism about truth that is driven by ontological considerations. However, it shows that there are practical considerations for a pluralism about truth, formulated at the level of use. The theory expounded by this article states that truth is a dual-purpose tool; it can be used as a device for transferring justificatory burdens and, for select areas of discourse, it can also be used as a standard, a norm. This contrast in how truth is used introduces a bifurcation in our discourse that is reminiscent of metaphysical divides traced by more traditional versions of alethic pluralism. However, my pluralism “at the level of use” states that truth is plural solely at the level of use. It is unified at both the conceptual as well as the metaphysical level. At those levels, the theory takes its cue from deflationism. As such, this theory is offered as a midway point and as a potential way forward in the debate between deflationism and pluralism.

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Author's Profile

Tom Kaspers
University of St. Andrews

References found in this work

Truth and Objectivity.Crispin Wright - 1992 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Truth.Paul Horwich - 1990 - Oxford, GB: Clarendon Press. Edited by Frank Jackson & Michael Smith.
Making it Explicit.Isaac Levi & Robert B. Brandom - 1996 - Journal of Philosophy 93 (3):145.
Truth as one and many.Michael P. Lynch - 2009 - New York : Clarendon Press,: Clarendon Press.

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