If you ask what justifies a deflationary account of truth, doesn’t that reveal an implicit isomorphism within the justification thus collapsing the account into a traditional correspondence theory?

  • Can you flesh the question out? I started to answer, and then I realized that I had to include a bunch of "if you mean this then ... if you mean this then ..." etc. What kind of thing are you assuming a "justification" is, and why do you think having a justification creates a metaphysical class of objects called truths? Why can't the deflationist just say the justification justifies the proposition? Why does he have to say that the justification justifies the truth of the proposition? May 28, 2021 at 0:38
  • Essentially, I'm asking whether deflationary accounts of truth presuppose some kind of correspondence isomorphism for their justification. To assert that "snow is white iff snow is white" requires some resemblance between the deflationary account of truth and what truth "really is." May 28, 2021 at 1:48
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    The point of the deflationary account of truth is that there is nothing that truth is really like. Truth isn't a thing. It isn't a property. To say that it's true that it's raining is just to say that it's raining. There is nothing extra there. "True" isn't a property that you are attributing to the proposition "It's raining"; "true" just a word that makes it easier to emphasize a certain aspect of the proposition. May 28, 2021 at 5:07
  • No. Asking generally does not reveal anything by itself, only answering does. The kind of justification you presuppose does indeed favor correspondence, but that's your own answer, and citing it as an argument for collapse is circular. To deflationists, "'p' is true iff p" is not an assertion, it is a convention. And their justification for it is that the truth predicate thereby introduced enables grammatic constructions that make the language more expressive. It is the kind of justification given for any good convention - it is convenient.
    – Conifold
    May 28, 2021 at 5:54

1 Answer 1


You're right these 2 rival theories of truth do sound very similar in nature such that many people regard Tarski's semantic theory of truth as deflationary while Tarski himself regards it as a kind of correspondence theory. The subtle difference can be hinted according to SEP reference here:

Philosophers often make suggestions like the following: truth consists in correspondence to the facts; truth consists in coherence with a set of beliefs or propositions; truth is the ideal outcome of rational inquiry. According to the deflationist, however, such suggestions are mistaken, and, moreover, they all share a common mistake. The common mistake is to assume that truth has a nature of the kind that philosophers might find out about and develop theories of. For the deflationist, truth has no nature beyond what is captured in ordinary claims such as that ‘snow is white’ is true just in case snow is white. Philosophers looking for the nature of truth are bound to be frustrated, the deflationist says, because they are looking for something that isn't there.

The deflationary theory has gone by many different names, including at least the following: the redundancy theory, the disappearance theory, the no-truth theory, the disquotational theory, and the minimalist theory. There is no terminological consensus about how to use these labels:

...the intuition that a certain sentence or proposition ‘corresponds to the facts’ is the intuition that the sentence or proposition is true because of a certain way the world is; that is, the truth of the proposition is explained by some contingent fact which is usually external to the proposition itself. We might express this by saying that someone who endorses the correspondence intuition so understood would endorse:

The proposition that snow is white is true because snow is white

In particular, the deflationist does not have to say that someone who says ‘the proposition that snow is white corresponds to the facts’ is speaking falsely. Deflationists would do better to say that such a person is simply using a picturesque or ornate way of saying that the proposition is true...

So deflationism as a kind of nominalism rejects the ontic commitment of any truth value as a substantive property of any statement and truth is simply deflated away becoming non-existent. Under the POV of some deflationists holding skepticism of truth knowability, if one speaks of any corresponding facts one may act falsely according to their definition of truth. It's similar to Fitch's paradox which doubts that every truth is knowable in principle, so these deflationists may reject the validity or even existence of any correspondence or isomorphism as an adequate cause of some proposition's truth value since it may involve circular reasoning if no one can really know facts in an entirely objective way, ...

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    The difference between the deflationary theory and the correspondence theory isn't that subtle. According to the deflationary theory, truth is just a linguistic object; according the correspondence theory, it is a property, something that propositions have. It's roughly the same as the difference between a Fregean theory of existence as a second-order property vs. a metaphysical theory of existence as something that existing things have. Also, I'm not familiar with this idea that deflationists are skeptical of knowability. Do you have a citation for that? May 28, 2021 at 0:47
  • @DavidGudeman thx for your critique. I've added a quote from the same SEP reference to show that deflationists do not merely reject truth value property of linguistic statements, but also reject the ontic nature of truth. May 28, 2021 at 1:31
  • But therein lies the problem as I see it; If truth is "just a linguistic object", deflationary truth has no meaningful way to account for this unless there is an isomorphism between the deflationary account of truth and the way truth "is." May 28, 2021 at 1:55
  • @GhostRocket first of all for those deflationists holding truth skepticism your concern is irrelevant (doesn't apply to those people since there's no "is" for truth, remember the undefinability of truth for many schools?). Your concern only holds for those don't hold such skepticism regarding truth knowability. But even for these remaining deflationistic nominalists, truth/falsity are human created names/concepts, mainly interested by logician and idealists, there's no ontic existence of such a property. So yes a proposition may be necessary true for human, but even proposition is created name May 28, 2021 at 2:04
  • @DoubleKnot Thank you for the thoughtful replies! The deflationary minimalist, though, says that " to minimalist accounts of truth. That would mean (p) is true if (p) is conceptually, explainatoraily, logically, and epistemologically fundamental." That doesn't (seem to) entirely square with truth being relative to humans. May 28, 2021 at 2:09

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