Deflationary Metaphysics: Response to Commentaries

Sergio Sismondo
Department of Philosophy, Queen's University Kingston, Canada

      First of all, let me observe how very generous and flattering this format is. In their commentaries on my paper, five impressive philosophers have developed perspectives on the issues I raise, and placed them within larger and sometimes very original philosophical frameworks. Each one of their views is rich in and of itself, and deserves more development than their short commentaries allowed. I am really pleased to have participated in this forum.

      The positions that Ruey-Lin Chen stakes out are the furthest from mine, in several ways. He is absolutely right that I was being somewhat casual in the way that I use a deflationary account of truth as a springboard for a discussion of a deflationary account of science. I am using the former as a prompt for the latter, which I then want to pluralize in order to create space for versions of realist, instrumentalist and constructivist interpretations of science. While I wouldn’t want to say that instability is itself a virtue, as Chen suggests I might, I do want to claim that any monolithic position – and I have argued above that that includes a deflationary account of science – is inadequate to capture what science does. It then becomes a virtue in a philosophical account of science to be flexible or multifaceted, and so the instability of deflationist accounts of science happens to be welcome. I actually do think that the parallel multiplicity in science itself is virtuous, though an argument for that will have to wait for another day.......