Truth and the Relevance of Practice

  • Massimo Dell'Utri
Keywords: truth, alethic deflationism, Horwich, Rorty, Putnam


Starting from the assumption according to which the philosophical reflection developed in the last century showed that the plausible interpretations of truth are very few, this article attempts to see whether it is possible to narrow down these interpretations even further. To this purpose the pragmatist criterion is applied, according to which What has weight in our lives should have weight also in philosophy. This criterion would appear to isolate alethic deflationism, on the one hand, and the interpretations of truth which can be traced back to deflationism, on the other. Accordingly, Horwich’s and Rorty’s deflationist stances are evaluated, and the interpretation of truth put forward by Putnam in his later work – which, even if not deflationist, comes very close to deflationism – is then compared with them. The key idea of the article is to verify whether these conceptions offer an acceptable picture of the relation between language and the world. In this respect the doubt is raised that alethic deflationism is enmeshed in a circle of language, despite the explicit claims of its subscribers to the contrary. Having highlighted what will be called the physiognomy of truth – the one it acquires by taking part in a coalescence of other concepts – and claimed that it is something our practice presupposes, the article shows how Putnam manages (and deflationists fail) to do justice to it.


ARMOUR-GARB, Bradley P. & BEALL, JC (eds.) (2005), Deflationary Truth, Open Court, Chicago and La Salle.

ARMOUR-GARB, Bradley P. & BEALL, JC (2005), Deflationism: The Basics, in ARMOUR-GARB & BEALL (ed.) (2005), pp. 1-29.

AUXIER, Randall E., ANDERSON Douglas R. & HAHN Lewis E. (eds.) (2015), The Philosophy of Hilary Putnam, Open Court, Chicago.

BRANDOM, Robert (ed.) (2000), Rorty and His Critics, Blackwell, Oxford.

DAVID, Marian (2005), Some T-Biconditionals, in ARMOUR-GARB & BEALL (eds.) (2005), pp. 382-419.

DAVID, Marian (2016), The Correspondence Theory of Truth, in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ZALTA Edward N. (ed.),


DUMMETT, Michael (2004), Truth and the Past, Columbia University Press, New York.

ELLENBOGEN, Sara (2003), Wittgenstein’s Account of Truth, State University of New York Press, Albany.

FIELD, Hartry (1994), Deflationist Views of Meaning and Content, in ARMOUR-GARB & BEALL (eds.) (2005), pp. 50-110.

HORWICH, Paul (1998), Truth: Second Edition, Clarendon Press, Oxford.

LEEDS, Stephen (1978), Theories of Reference and Truth, in ARMOUR-GARB & BEALL (eds.) (2005), pp. 33-49.

LYNCH, Michael P. (ed.) (2001), The Nature of Truth: Classic and Contemporary Perspectives, MIT Press, Cambridge (Mass.).

PEDERSEN, Nikolaj J.L.L. & WRIGHT, Cory D. (eds.) (2013), Truth and Pluralism: Current Debates, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

PUTNAM, Hilary (1990a), Realism with a Human Face, Harvard University Press, Cambridge (Mass.).

PUTNAM, Hilary (1990b), Realism with a Human Face, in PUTNAM 1990a, pp. 3-29.

PUTNAM, Hilary (1991), Does the Disquotational Theory of Truth Solve All Philosophical Problems?, in PUTNAM (1994), pp. 264-278.

PUTNAM, Hilary (1992), «Truth, Activation Vectors, and Possession Conditions for Concepts», in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 52, pp. 431-447.

PUTNAM, Hilary (1994), Words and Life, Harvard University Press, Cambridge (Mass.).

PUTNAM, Hilary (1999), The Threefold Cord: Mind, Body, and World, Columbia University Press, New York.

PUTNAM, Hilary (2012), Philosophy in an Age of Science, Harvard University Press, Cambridge (Mass.).

PUTNAM, Hilary (2015a), «Naturalism, Realism, and Normativity», in Journal of the American Philosophical Association, 1, 2, pp. 312-328.

PUTNAM, Hilary (2015b), Reply to Frederick Stoutland, in AUXIER, ANDERSON & HAHN (eds.) (2015), pp. 547-563.

RORTY, Richard (1994a), John Searle on Realism and Relativism, in RORTY 1998, pp. 63-83.

RORTY, Richard (1994b), The Very Idea of Human Answerability to the World: John McDowell’s Version of Empiricism, in RORTY (1998), pp. 138-152.

RORTY, Richard (1995), Is Truth a Goal of Inquiry? Donald Davidson Versus Crispin Wright, in RORTY (1998), pp. 19-42.

RORTY, Richard (1998), Truth and Progress, Philosophical Papers, Vol. 3, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

RORTY, Richard (1999), Philosophy and Social Hope, Penguin, New York.

RORTY, Richard (2015), Putnam, Pragmatism, and Parmenides, in AUXIER, ANDERSON & HAHN (eds.) (2015), pp. 863-881.

RORTY, Richard & ENGEL, Pascal (2007), What’s the Use of Truth?, SAVIDAN, Patrick (ed.), Columbia University Press, New York.

SCHANTZ, Richard (ed.) (2001), What is Truth?, de Gruyter, Berlin.

WILLIAMS, Michael (2001), On Some Critics of Deflationism, in SCHANTZ (ed.) (2001), pp. 146-158.

WRIGHT, Crispin (1992), Truth and Objectivity, Harvard University Press, Cambridge (Mass.).

WRIGHT, Crispin (2001), Minimalism, Deflationism, Pragmatism, Pluralism, in LYNCH (ed.) (2001), pp. 751-787.

WRIGHT, Crispin (2013), A Plurality of Pluralisms, in PEDERSEN & WRIGHT (eds.) (2013), pp. 123-153.

How to Cite
Dell’Utri, M. (2016) “Truth and the Relevance of Practice”, Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio, 00. Available at: (Accessed: 4December2023).