, Volume 75, Issue 1, pp 113–122 | Cite as

Deflationism and the Dependence of Truth on Reality

Original Article


A common objection against deflationism is that it cannot account for the fact that truth depends on reality. Consider the question ‘On what does the truth of the proposition that snow is white depend?’ An obvious answer is that it depends on whether snow is white. Now, consider what answer, if any, a deflationist can offer. The problem is as follows. A typical deflationary analysis of truth consists of biconditionals of the form ‘The proposition that p is true iff p’. Such biconditionals tell us nothing about what the truth of the proposition that p might depend on. Therefore, it seems that a typical deflationist cannot give an answer. Since we know that an answer is available, this throws doubt over the adequacy of deflationism as an account of truth. Articulated here is a defence of deflationism against this objection. It is argued that although biconditionals of the sort mentioned do not explicitly state a dependency between truth and reality, they nevertheless convey one. The reason is that, given the context in which a deflationist invokes the biconditionals, such a dependency is implicated. A potential problem with this defence is that it leaves the deflationist still unable to give an account of what it is for truth to depend on reality. One might think that a deflationist can offer such an account by appealing to truthmaker theory but, it is argued below, truthmaker theory is unavailable to a deflationist. Instead, the deflationist should question the assumption that an account is available.



Thanks to David Liggins, Rosanna Keefe and two anonymous referees for helpful comments.


  1. Bach, K. (2005). The top 10 misconceptions about implicature. In B. Birner & G. Ward (Eds.), Festschrift for Larry Horn. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
  2. David, M. (1994). Correspondence and disquotation: An essay on the nature of truth. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Davidson, D. (1996). The folly of trying to define truth. Journal of Philosophy, 93, 263–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Fine, K. (2010). Some puzzles of ground. Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic, 51, 97–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Grice, H. P. (1975). Logic and conversation. In H. P. Grice (Ed.), Studies in the ways of words. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Reprinted.Google Scholar
  6. Hill, C. (2002). The marriage of heaven and hell: Reconciling deflationary semantics with correspondence intuitions. Philosophical Studies, 104, 291–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Horwich, P. (1998). Truth (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Künne, W. (2003). Conceptions of truth. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Leitgeb, H. (2005). What truth depends on. Journal of Philosophical Logic, 34, 155–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Lewis, D. (2001). Forget about the correspondence theory of truth. Analysis, 61, 275–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Liggins, D. (2008). Truthmakers and the groundedness of truth. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 108, 177–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. McGrath, M. (2003). What the deflationist may say about truthmaking. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 66, 666–688.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Newman, A. (2002). The correspondence theory of truth. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Putnam, H. (1978). Meaning and the moral sciences. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  15. Quine, W. V. O. (1970). Philosophy of logic. Hemel Hempstead: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  16. Quine, W. V. O. (1987). Quiddities: An intermittently philosophical dictionary. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Rodriguez-Pereyra, G. (2005). Why truthmakers. In J. Dodd & H. Beebee (Eds.), Truthmakers. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Tarski, A. (1944). The semantic conception of truth. In M. Lynch (Ed.), The nature of truth. MIT: Cambridge, MA. Reprinted.Google Scholar
  19. Vision, G. (2005). Deflationary truthmaking. European Journal of Philosophy, 13, 364–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Williams, M. (2002). On some critics of deflationism. In R. Schantz (Ed.), What is truth? Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  21. Yablo, S. (1982). Grounding, dependence, and paradox. Journal of Philosophical Logic, 11, 117–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Woodford, Plympton, Plymouth, DevonUK

Personalised recommendations