Jared Henderson

Philosophy, etc.

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Published

Deflating the Determination Argument

This article argues for the compatibility of deflationism and truth-conditional semantic theories. I begin by focusing on an argument due to Dorit Bar-On, Claire Horisk, and William Lycan for incompatibility, arguing that their argument relies on an ambiguity between two senses of the expression ‘is at least.’ I go on to show how the disambiguated arguments have different consequences for the deflationist, and argue that no conclusions are established that the deflationist cannot accommodate. I then respond to some objections and gesture at a more general defense of the compatibility claim.

PhilPapers

Under Review

Truth and Gradability

I argue for two claims: that the ordinary English truth predicate is a gradable adjective and that truth is a property that comes in degrees. The first is a semantic claim, motivated by the linguistic evidence and the similarity of the truth predicate’s behavior to other gradable terms. The second is a claim in natural language metaphysics, motivated by interpreting the best semantic analysis of gradable terms as applied to the truth predicate. In addition to providing arguments for these two claims, I draw out consequences for debates about deflationism and truth-based analyses of notions such as assertion and logical consequence. I argue that deflationism is incompatible with the gradability of truth, but that with some minor modifications, degrees of truth theorists can retain standard accounts of assertion and logical consequence, including the full resources of classical logic.

In Progress

Truth as Modal Closeness

I present a novel degree theory of truth: the modal measurement theory. I argue that ‘true’ behaves like a graded modal, measuring the closeness the nearest world that makes a sentence true. I show that the modal measurement theory of truth has the resources to respond to common objections to degree theories of truth: logical consequence is still classical, sentences are non-linearly ordered, a sentence is false when not fully true, and the metaphysics of degrees of truth is all done in terms of well-understood metaphysical notions such as possible worlds and worldly similarities.

Absoluteness and Alethic Pluralism

Pluralists about truth take a liberal attitude toward truth: there are many truth properties, all united by some common features. One way to identify the truth properties is to come up with a list of platitudes and see which properties satisfy those platitudes; those properties are the truth properties. I argue against the inclusion of the Absoluteness platitude in a pluralist theory of truth. Given other things pluralists say about truth, they should be open to the idea that some truth properties are non-absolute and come in degrees.

Truth: Actions, Success, Degrees

True beliefs engender successful action. It has become commonplace in the literature to say that the explanation of this fact is due to a substantive relation holding between true beliefs and the world; often, this is thought to be the relation of correspondence. It is also assumed that correspondence is an absolute relation: either a belief stands in the correspondence relation to the world or it does not. But I argue that correspondence is a non-absolute relation: some beliefs correspond to the world more than other beliefs. Taking correspondence to be a non-absolute relation offers a general explanation of the fact that successful action is a matter of degree.