I want our discussion of truth to continue because I will profit from hearing other points of view. So I'm going to post again on a view of truth (or perhaps it's better to call it a bunch of related theories about truth) that is genuinely contemporary. In addition it spans the Analytic/Continental divide.
Deflationary theories of truth say that truth doesn't really mean anything at all. It is a word that has a function,but it's function is not to describe the statements or beliefs being called "true". Minimally a deflationary theory can claim that to say "What Mary said was true" is just to repeat what Mary said in fewer words. So "true" is just a kind of abbreviation, the way that I will use a pronoun. As in when I say a person's name in my first sentence and then use "he" or "she" instead of the name.
This simple deflationary view has its good points. "True" does seem to work like this to some extent at least. A related theory says that we use "true" to mean "warranted assertibility." So what I really when when I say "That's true" is "we have good reason to believe or say so." Again to some extent "true" seems to work like this.
However, this doesn't seem right to me. Having a good reason to believe p implies, it me at least, that p is probably true. Moreover, I sometimes use true in circumstances that seem to definitely not mean "warranted assertibility." For example, I would say it might be true that intelligent aliens are observing human civilization right now. I don't mean that I might have adequate evidence to say this. I think the correspondance notion is at the core of what I am saying here. I think those aliens might be out there doing this totally undetectable by me.
Similarly for the "ditto" version of truth. When I would repeat what Mary said I do so because I think what she said was true. The presumption that people normally use assertive sentences only when they believe that the propositional content of those sentence is true is what makes "true" work like "ditto."
On the continental side it appears that deflationary theories often take on a "speaking truth to power" tone. "True" is used by the powerful to silence the powerless. It is "true" that capitalism is good for society just means "shut up, we are not going to redistribute the wealth!"
I agree that the powerful bully the powerless. I agree that the powerful have a disproportionate amount of control over sources of information and what gets said and what views are taken seriously. I see that power is used unjustly. But I am not convinced that it's a good theory of truth to say that the function of "true" is to silence the voice of the poor.
My reason for not going along with this is similar to my reason for rejecting the Analytic deflationary theories--I don't think they would work this way if there were not a correspondance notion of truth at the core. Imagine this. Rush Limbaugh or
Bill O'Reilly is shouting down someone who says that the rich don't pay enough in taxes. Instead of saying "That's not true!" he says "That offends the rich!" It just wouldn't work. To have any plausibility Rush or Bill must at least be claiming that there are objective facts on their side. To just nakedly say "I dislike what you are saying" falls flat.
So I'm saying that the rich do oppress the poor and that they use the word "true" as part of this, but that these facts can't be the basis of the theory of what "true" means.