The purpose of this book is to bring nihilism into debates over truth and paradox, and show that a nihilist approach to truth is a serious contender.
Perhaps the most familiar forms of nihilism in contemporary analytic philosophy are in the philosophy of mathematics and in metaethics. In the philosophy of mathematics, Field denies the existence of mathematical objects, and in metaethics Mackie denies the existence of morally obligatory actions. These nihilist positions are promising and have led to rich debates.
In the context of debates about truth, nihilism is the view that nothing is true. Obviously, this is a very striking and (at first) implausible thesis, which is perhaps why it is seldom discussed. This book demonstrates that in fact a surprisingly strong case for nihilism about truth is available. The main grounds for taking the view seriously are the elegant solutions it provides to a wide range of paradoxes involving truth, and its epistemological superiority to theories that posit truths. The discussion considers a wider range of paradoxes than usual—including the truth-teller paradox and other paradoxes of underdetermination. And it shows how the debate over truth and paradox can be advanced by drawing on metaphysical debates about realism and anti-realism.
The book is also a challenge to deflationism. Deflationists provide an austere, metaphysically lightweight account of truth. But there is one posit that all contemporary deflationists make: they posit truths. By showing that we can well do without truths, Liggins argues that deflationism is actually too lavish a position.
Liggins’s preferred form of alethic nihilism includes a Ramseyan analysis of the concept of truth, which uses quantification into sentence position, conceived of as non-objectual and non-substitutional. So this book is part of a wider movement exploring the implications of admitting forms of non-objectual, non-substitutional quantification—sometimes called ‘higher-order metaphysics’.
|Oxford: Oxford University Press
|Accepted/In press - 2024
- semantic paradox
- alethic nihilism