A common argument in deflationary theories of truth is that no content is added to a statement by adding 'is true' to the end. We can say "That turkeys do a jive on Saturdays is true" and mean only that "Turkeys do a jive on Saturday."

On the pure analysis of the meaningfulness of a sentence, the deflationary theorist is right. But aren't most correspondence/coherence theorists claiming that truth ascriptions don't describe or add content to sentences but rather describe a relation that the statement participates (or fails to participate) in?

When the correspondence/coherence theorist of truth describe a sentence as 'true' is the deflationary theorist begging the question by trying to analyze what 'meaning' this ascription adds to the sentence instead of analyzing what relation this ascription adds?

  • Begging the question against whom? Deflationism is not an argument against some other theories of truth, it is another option, so there is no issue of begging the question. One can take deflationism as a minimal interpretation, whatever else "truth" might be it is a grammatical device, and one can add more on top of that. Or one can take it as a release from explanation if they consider classical "truth" to be a spurious notion: its occurrence in language is already explained by its grammatic function, and there need not be any more to it than that.
    – Conifold
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 23:08
  • @Conifold "if they take it to be a spurious notion." That's just it though. The deflationary theorist acts as though they have shown traditional truth to be a spurious notion. You yourself suggest this in your last sentence. To say that 'truth' is already explained by its grammatical function is to talk about a meaning of 'truth' that already excludes the sense of truth that correspondence theorists, coherence theorists, and pretty much every normal person are talking about.
    – user28843
    Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 1:54
  • Deflationism bypasses metaphysics, and "much of modern philosophy is marked by a profound scepticism of metaphysics". Together with other problems of traditional theories this makes it attractive, if someone believes a notion to be spurious they would naturally act accordingly. Are you asking for arguments for/against traditional truth theories? That's pretty broad and is not specific to deflationism, SEP has a whole article on truth and a separate one on deflationism.
    – Conifold
    Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 20:56
  • @Conifold I'm not asking for arguments for/against traditional truth theories. I'm only arguing that many deflationary theorists act as though they have themselves established by some sort of reasoning that traditional truth is spurious. I'm only saying that often times this is really only a result of their assumptions in method and that all of this lends an illusory promise to deflationism. I can list several examples of this phenomenon, several taken from passages listed in the SEP article on deflationary theory. Just look at Frege's mini-argument for it at the beginning of it.
    – user28843
    Commented Oct 14, 2017 at 20:03
  • I think all theorists accept that truth is disquotational, i.e. that saying "is true" adds nothing to a statement. Deflationists argue that there's no more to say about truth. Commented Oct 15, 2017 at 7:53

1 Answer 1


But aren't most correspondence /coherence theorists claiming that truth ascriptions don't describe or add content to sentences but rather describe a relation that the statement participates (or fails to participate) in?

Not exactly. Correspondence /coherence theorists are not claiming that a truth ascription describes a relation that the statement participates (or fails to participate) in. Rather, they claim a truth ascription states that such a relation exists. The truth ascription does not describe this relation, only states its existence.

The truth predicate (p is true) is a one-place predicate. So truth is a property, not a relation. And for correspondence /coherence theorists, this property, the truth property, is a contentful property, expressing the existence of a certain kind of relation. The deflationist, of the type described in the OP, denies that the truth property is contentful in such a way. So the deflationist's claim seems to be right to the point. It does not beg the question against the correspondence /coherence theorist.

The simpler deflationist theories (also called "redundancy" theories), that the truth predicate literally adds no content to a proposition, are characteristic of the earlier 20th century (Ramsey is a paradigmatic example). Later deflationist theories tend to agree that the truth predicate does add content to a proposition, but not the kind of content that a correspondence or coherence theories would relate to it.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .