Functionalism about Truth and the Metaphysics of Reduction
- 145 Downloads
Functionalism about truth is the view that truth is an explanatorily significant but multiply-realizable property. According to this view the properties that realize truth vary from domain to domain, but the property of truth is a single, higher-order, domain insensitive property. We argue that this view faces a challenge similar to the one that Jaegwon Kim laid out for the multiple realization thesis. The challenge is that the higher-order property of truth is equivalent to an explanatorily idle disjunction of its realization bases. This consequence undermines the alethic functionalists’ non-deflationary ambitions. A plausible response to Kim’s argument fails to carry over to alethic functionalism on account of significant differences between alethic functionalism and psychological functionalism. Lynch’s revised view in his book Truth as One and Many (2009) fails to answer our challenge. The upshot is that, while mental functionalism may survive Kim’s argument, it mortally wounds functionalism about truth.
KeywordsFunctionalism Truth Pluralism Lynch Multiple-realization
For comments on earlier drafts, we are grateful to Clare Batty, Kamper Floyd, Eric Loomis, Michael Lynch, Adam Podlaskowski, Chase Wrenn, Cory Wright, and the audience at the 2008 Alabama Philosophical Society Meeting.
- Antony, L., & Levine, J. (1997). Reduction with autonomy. Nous 31, Supplement: Philosophical perspectives, 11, Mind, causation, and world, 88–105.Google Scholar
- Davidson, D. (2001). The folly of trying to define truth. In M. Lynch (Ed.), The nature of truth (pp. 623–640). Cambridge: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Field, H. (1986). The deflationary conception of truth. In G. Macdonald & C. Wright (Eds.), Fact, science, and morality: Essays on A. J. Ayer’s language, truth, and logic (pp. 483–503). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Fodor, J. (1997). Special sciences: still autonomous after all these years. Philosophical Perspectives, 11, 149–163.Google Scholar
- Lynch, M. (2001). A functionalist theory of truth. In M. Lynch (Ed.), The nature of truth (pp. 723–749). Cambridge: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Wright, C. (1992). Truth & objectivity. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar