The meaning of truth : Tarski, deflationism, and interpretation.
The aim of my thesis is to develop a third way to truth,
between traditional substantive theories, and deflationist
accounts which seek to show that truth has no content.
I begin with Tarski's definition of truth, and show that the
definition enables the elimination of 'is true' in terms of the
concepts expressible in the object-language (+logic/set
theory). The definition, therefore, appears to provide a basis
I consider a variety of deflationisms. Their common
denominator is the thought that the content of truth is
exhausted by the content of the sentences to which truth is
applied: truth has no independent content; it has a mere
While I admit the deflationist hue of Tarski's definition, I
show that the definition contains resources to account for ". substantive features of our semantic competence. Extrapolating
from these resources, I claim that a suitably constrained truth
theory is an interpretive theory (ITT).
The significance of the notion of an ITT is that it provides
an interpretive conception of truth. I show that such a
conception is neither reductionist nor deflationary. Further, I
argue that an adequate ITT, although extensional, does capture
the distinctions taken to be constitutive of our concept of
From the perspective of an ITT, I argue that none of the
deflationist theories can account for central features of
truth: principally, the semantic paradoxes and heterophonic
ascriptions. I conclude that deflationism is, at best, an
etiolated account of truth.