Dissertation, University of Jyväskylä (2023)
This dissertation explores the prospects of postdeflationary substantive theorizing about truth.
Postdeflationary theories define the concept of truth or the property of being a true truthbearer
in a way that respects the deflationary desiderata of clarity, purity, and permissiveness with truth-aptness,
without a necessary commitment to the core negative thesis of the deflationary approach.
Postdeflationary substantive theories further acknowledge the complexity and explanatory utility of
truth in understanding and defining other concepts and phenomena.
The motivation for pursuing this study arises from the so-called contemporary crisis of
truth, where a substantive understanding of truth is subjected to widespread skepticism, critique,
and even cynicism both inside and outside of philosophy in formal and mundane discourse. To
better understand this crisis, particular attention is directed towards the deflationary critique of
substantive theories of truth, which is a prevalent point of discussion in contemporary literature
on western analytic philosophy. By exploring the limits and philosophical sustainability of
deflationary critique of substantive accounts of truth, valuable insight is gained about the
contemporary crisis of truth and the potential for substantive theorizing about truth in general.
This dissertation composes of an introduction and four original research publications that
address two connected themes: exploration of the philosophical sustainability of deflationary
critique of substantive theories of truth, and exploration of the prospects for development of the
now popular substantive pluralist theories of truth. These themes constitute both negative and
positive aspects in relation to analyzing the prospects of postdeflationary substantive theorizing
The first part of this dissertation focuses on arguing against the widespread deflationary
readings of W.V.O. Quine’s truth, who is widely interpreted as a prominent and influential
deflationist in both the secondary literature on his philosophy and contemporary truth-theoretic
debates more broadly conceived. The first essay demonstrates that Quine’s immanent conception
of truth involves commitments that are incompatible with general and theory-specific framings
of the deflationary thesis. The second essay demonstrates conflicts between Quine’s views and
what has in recent literature been argued as strong and moderate variants of the deflationary
thesis. In conclusion, these essays demonstrate that the widespread deflationary readings of
Quine’s truth are mistaken, thus removing a prominent thinker from the deflationists ranks while
simultaneously casting suspicion towards the philosophical sustainability of the deflationary
approach in general.
The second part of this dissertation explores the prospects of postdeflationary substantive
theorizing about truth by analyzing the limits and prospects for development of the increasingly
popular substantive pluralist theories. The third essay explores different ways in which semantic
ambiguity poses trouble for current pluralist models. The fourth essay argues that to achieve the
theoretical desiderata that pluralists ask from discourse domains, the latter ought to be
individuated on ontological rather than topical grounds. In conclusion, these essays demonstrate
that while current pluralist models involve shortcomings, they encompass potential for
development and provide a viable prospect for sustainable postdeflationary substantive
theorizing about truth.