Inferentialist Truth Pluralism

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 24 (1):107-121 (2021)
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Metasemantic inferentialismhas gained popularity in the last few decades. Traditionally, inferentialism is combined with a deflationary attitude towards semantic terms such as truth and reference, i.e., many inferentialists hold that when we use these semantic terms we do not purport to refer to substantive properties. This combination makes inferentialism attractive for philosophers who see themselves as antirealists. Although the attractions of combining inferentialism and deflationism are easy to see, deflationism is also a controversial position. For one, deflationists maintain that truth is an insubstantive property, but it is not altogether clear what an insubstantive property is. Secondly, as deflationists maintain that truth does not play an explanatory role, it is incompatible with the position that truth can explain the normativity of truth talk. Given that deflationism faces these objections, it would be preferable if the success of inferentialism did not depend on the deflationist’s ability to respond to these objections. I argue that someone attracted to inferentialism for its ability to accommodate antirealist intuitions about a domain (e.g. morality) is not committed to deflationism about truth. More specifically, I will show that inferentialism combined with a straightforward account of inferentialist truth-conditions is compatible with a version of truth pluralism. I call this position Inferentialist Truth Pluralism.

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Herman Veluwenkamp
University of Groningen


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