[hist-analytic] Deflationary Truth and Syncategoremata

Landspeedrecord landspeedrecord at gmail.com
Sun Dec 12 13:49:51 EST 2010

I don't understand this.  I don't understand deflationary theories of truth
in general and this cuts nicely to the heart of the matter for me.

'Poor', in the "syncategorematic" sense is modifying, not another word in
the sentence but the referent.  So is violinist.  They refer in parallel to
the referent but not to each other.

On the other hand, 'poor Arnold' is different.  Here 'Arnold' is a
proxy/stand-in of the referent - and I am not speaking of rigid designation
here.  'Arnold' stands FOR the (hypothetical) person who we refer to as
"Arnold".  So 'poor' IS modifying 'Arnold'.   The property of being poor is
added to the mental list (temporarily at least) we are keeping about the
properties of 'Arnold'.  This is particularly clear in the case where it is
understood that there is NO person being referred to, where the name is just
being used demonstratively, as it is by me in this case.

So 'true sentence' is nothing like 'poor violinist' - a much better analogy
is 'poor person' or 'poor human'.  That is to say, poor is a putative
property of the putative person, and true is a putative property of the
putative sentence.  Until the actual sentence is provided, then yes, in a
trivial sense, the term 'truth' is just an emphatic declaration, truth has
been deflated - but really what is going on is that truth isn't being
deflated... it is being suspended - as is 'poor' when it modifies 'human' -
once the referent is given the suspension is OVER.  And hence deflation of
truth is merely a disguised form of suspended/imaginary truth.

And so deflationary theories make literally NO sense to me, as I can never
get past this issue.

On Fri, Dec 10, 2010 at 2:33 PM, <Baynesr at comcast.net> wrote:

> Recall Quine's example of syncategoremata:
> 'poor violinist'
> Where 'poor' does not modify 'violinist', i.e. in the sense that the
> violinist may be wealthy. We
> may suppose 'poor violinist' is predicated of 'Jack'.
> Now consider
> 'true sentence'
> where 'true' does not modify 'sentence', and where we suppose the true
> sentence is 'p' (cf.
> 'Jack').
> So we have it that we might assert ambiguously, either:
> 'The violinist is poor'
> 'The sentence is true'
> A deflationary theory of truth is consistent with the syncategorematic
> reading of 'true' in
> 'true sentence'. We may assert
> 'p is true
> and no more commit ourselves to property attribution that we do when
> predicating 'poor' of
> the 'violinist' when we say,
> The violinist is poor.
> Regards
> STeve Bayne
> 45000

Pentabarf #5: A Discordian is Prohibited from Believing What he reads.
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