Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy

We present three ways of expressing a possible interpretative uncertainty of the truth predicate: ambiguity, context-sensitivity and semantic indeterminacy. Next, we examine Kölbel (2008)’s pluralist view that “true” is ambiguous between a substantialist concept and a deflationist concept, and that it is ambiguous as the word “dog” is between “male dog” and “canine”. Our main goal is to show that Kölbel’s thesis does not withstand empirical scrutiny in the sense that “true” fails most of the well-established tests for ambiguity (conjunction-reduction, contradiction, and ellipsis). In addition, we reformulate Kölbel’s thesis by saying that “true” may be context-sensitive between a substantialist concept and a deflationist concept, and then we run Cappelen and Lepore (2004)’s inter-contextual disquotation test in order to show that “true” does not display that sort of context-sensitivity. In conclusion, we offer a diagnosis of Kölbel’s thesis failure, and advance some possible developments.

Alethic pluralism is the view that truth requires different treatments for different domains of discourse. Accordingly, the subject matter we are talking about determines what notion of truth is in place. The intuition behind alethic pluralism is that we do not seem to appeal to the same notion of truth across different domains of discourses such as mathematics and morality. This may also account for the widespread disagreement among philosophers on what the nature of truth ultimately is (correspondence, coherence, deflationary, etc.).


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