This essay argues that deflationism (about truth and reference) is incompatible with the phenomenon of referential indeterminacy (RI). This puts the deflationist in the difficult position of having to deny the possibility of what otherwise seems like a manifest and theoretically important phenomenon. Section 1 provides background on deflationism. Section 2 considers an intuitive argument by Stephen Leeds to the effect that deflationism precludes RI; the essay argues that this argument does not succeed. The rest of the essay presents its own, distinct argument for the incompatibility of deflationism and RI. Section 3 argues that direct RI—RI that is not simply a derivative of some other, nonreferential instance of indeterminacy—is strictly incompatible with deflationism. Section 4 considers a couple of different ways the deflationist might try to achieve indirect RI—via indeterminate identity and indeterminate synonymy—and argues that each is unsatisfactory.
David E. Taylor; Deflationism and Referential Indeterminacy. The Philosophical Review 1 January 2017; 126 (1): 43–79. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00318108-3683612
Download citation file: