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Alethic pluralism in its contemporary form is a relatively young position. It was inaugurated by Crispin Wright ; see also and was later developed into a somewhat different form by Lynch Critical discussion is still at a relatively nascent stage but see Vision , chap. It will likely focus on two main problem areas. First , it seems difficult to sort propositions into distinct kinds according to the subject matter they are about.

What are they about? Intuitively, their subject matter is mixed, belonging to the physical domain, the biological domain, and the domain of ethical discourse. It is hard to see how pluralism can account for the truth of such mixed propositions, belonging to more than one domain of discourse: What will be the realizing property?

The Correspondence Theory of Truth

Lynch proposes to construe truth as a functional property , defined in terms of a complex functional role which is given by the conjunction of the platitudes somewhat analogous to the way in which functionalists in the philosophy of mind construe mental states as functional states, specified in terms of their functional roles—though in their case the relevant functional roles are causal roles, which is not a feasible option when it comes to the truth-role.

Here the main issue will be to determine a whether such an account really works, when the technical details are laid out, and b whether it is plausible to claim that properties as different as correspondence to a fact, on the one hand, and coherence or superassertibilty, on the other, can be said to play one and the same role—a claim that seems required by the thesis that these different properties all realize the same property, being true.

For more on pluralism, see e. According to the identity theory of truth, true propositions do not correspond to facts, they are facts: This non-traditional competitor of the correspondence theory threatens to collapse the correspondence relation into identity. See Moore ; and Dodd for a book-length defense of this theory and discussion contrasting it with the correspondence theory; and see the entry the identity theory of truth: In response, a correspondence theorist will point out: Hence, there will be ample room and need for correspondence accounts of truth for other types of truthbearers, including propositions, if they are construed as constituted, partly or wholly, of concepts of objects and properties.

The assumption can be questioned. That-clauses can be understood as ambiguous names, sometimes denoting propositions and sometimes denoting facts. Deflationists maintain that correspondence theories need to be deflated; that their central notions, correspondence and fact and their relatives , play no legitimate role in an adequate account of truth and can be excised without loss. A correspondence-type formulation like.

Correspondence theorists protest that 6 cannot lead to anything deserving to be regarded as an account of truth. Moreover, no genuine generalizations about truth can be accounted for on the basis of 7. Correspondence definitions, on the other hand, do yield genuine generalizations about truth.

Yet, according to 1 and 2 , it is sufficient but not necessary: The genuine article, 1 or 2 , is not as easily deflated as the impostor 5.

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Correspondence theorists tend to regard this as a minimal requirement. There is now a substantial body of literature on truth-deflationism in general and its relation to the correspondence theory in particular; the following is a small selection: See also the entry the deflationary theory of truth in this encyclopedia. This approach centers on the truthmaker or truthmaking principle: Every truth has a truthmaker; or alternatively: For every truth there is something that makes it true. The principle is usually understood as an expression of a realist attitude, emphasizing the crucial contribution the world makes to the truth of a proposition.

Advocates tend to treat truthmaker theory primarily as a guide to ontology, asking: To entities of what ontological categories are we committed as truthmakers of the propositions we accept as true? Most advocates maintain that propositions of different logical types can be made true by items from different ontological categories: This is claimed as a significant improvement over traditional correspondence theories which are understood—correctly in most but by no means all cases—to be committed to all truthmakers belonging to a single ontological category albeit disagreeing about which category that is.

All advocates of truthmaker theory maintain that the truthmaking relation is not one-one but many-many: This is also claimed as a significant improvement over traditional correspondence theories which are often portrayed as committed to correspondence being a one-one relation. This portrayal is only partly justified.

While it is fairly easy to find real-life correspondence theorists committing themselves to the view that each truth corresponds to exactly one fact at least by implication, talking about the corresponding fact , it is difficult to find real-life correspondence theorists committing themselves to the view that only one truth can correspond to a given fact but see Moore , p. A truthmaker theory may be presented as a competitor to the correspondence theory or as a version of the correspondence theory.

Some advocates would agree with Dummett , p. Other advocates would follow Armstrong who tends to present his truthmaker theory as a liberal form of correspondence theory; indeed, he seems committed to the view that the truth of a contingent elementary proposition consists in its correspondence with some atomic fact cf. Armstrong ; , pp. Logical atomists, such as Russell and Wittgenstein , will hold that the truth or falsehood of every truth-value bearer can be explained in terms of can be derived from logical relations between truth-value bearers, by way of the recursive clauses, together with the base clauses, i.

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This recursive strategy could be pursued with the aim to reject the truthmaker principle: There is one straightforward difference between truthmaker theory and most correspondence theories. Modified correspondence theories also aim at providing a definition of truth, though in their case the definition will be considerably more complex, owing to the recursive character of the account. Truthmaker theory, on the other hand, centers on the truthmaker principle: There is a growing body of literature on truthmaker theory; see for example: See also the entry on truthmakers in this encyclopedia.

The argument is based on two crucial assumptions: In the version below, the relevant singular terms will be the following: The argument has been criticized repeatedly. Critics point to the two questionable assumptions on which it relies, i and ii. It is far from obvious why a correspondence theorist should be tempted by either one of them. Opposition to assumption i rests on the view that expressibility by logically equivalent sentences may be a necessary, but is not a sufficient condition for fact identity. Opposition to assumption ii rests on the observation that the alleged singular terms used in the argument are definite descriptions: The objection that may well have been the most effective in causing discontent with the correspondence theory is based on an epistemological concern.

In a nutshell, the objection is that a correspondence theory of truth must inevitably lead into skepticism about the external world, because the required correspondence between our thoughts and reality is not ascertainable. It is typically pointed out that we cannot step outside our own minds to compare our thoughts with mind-independent reality. Yet—so the objection continues—on the correspondence theory of truth, this is precisely what we would have to do to gain knowledge.

We would have to access reality as it is in itself, independently of our cognition, and determine whether our thoughts correspond to it. Since this is impossible, since all our access to the world is mediated by our cognition, the correspondence theory makes knowledge impossible cf. Kant , intro vii. Assuming that the resulting skepticism is unacceptable, the correspondence theory has to be rejected, and some other account of truth, an epistemic anti-realist account of some sort, has to be put in its place cf.

This type of objection brings up a host of issues in epistemology, the philosophy of mind, and general metaphysics. All that can be done here is to hint at a few pertinent points cf. The objection makes use of the following line of reasoning: There are two assumptions implicit in this line of reasoning, both of them debatable.

The assumption may rest on confusing requirements for knowing x with requirements for knowing that one knows x. This is highly implausible. By the same standard it would follow that no one who does not know that water is H 2 O can know that the Nile contains water—which would mean, of course, that until fairly recently nobody knew that the Nile contained water and that, until fairly recently, nobody knew that there were stars in the sky, whales in the sea, or that the sun gives light.

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Similarly, as far as knowing that x is true is concerned, the correspondence theory does not entail that we have to know that a belief corresponds to a fact in order to know that it is true, or that our method of finding out whether a belief is true has to involve a strategy of actually comparing a belief with a fact—although the theory does of course entail that one obtains knowledge only if one obtains a belief that corresponds to a fact. One might also wonder whether its competitors actually enjoy any significant advantage over the correspondence theory, once they are held to the standards set up by this sort of objection.

However, the connection between correspondence theories of truth and the metaphysical realism vs.


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On the one hand, deflationists and identity theorists can be, and typically are, metaphysical realists while rejecting the correspondence theory. On the other hand, advocates of a correspondence theory can, in principle, be metaphysical idealists e. McTaggart or anti-realists, for one might advocate a correspondence theory while maintaining, at the same time, a that all facts are constituted by mind or b that what facts there are depends somehow on what we believe or are capable of believing, or c that the correspondence relation between true propositions and facts depends somehow on what we believe or are capable of believing claiming that the correspondence relation between true beliefs or true sentences and facts depends on what we believe can hardly count as a commitment to anti-realism.

Keeping this point in mind, one can nevertheless acknowledge that advocacy of a correspondence theory of truth comes much more naturally when combined with a metaphysically realist stance and usually signals commitment to such a stance. Russell's logic and ontology Meinong, Alexius Moore, George Edward object pragmatism properties propositions propositions: History of the Correspondence Theory 1. Truthbearers, Truthmakers, Truth 2. Simple Versions of the Correspondence Theory 4.

Arguments for the Correspondence Theory 5. Objections to the Correspondence Theory 6. Correspondence as Isomorphism 7. Modified Versions of the Correspondence Theory 7. The Correspondence Theory and Its Competitors 8. More Objections to the Correspondence Theory 9. An object-based definition of truth might look like this: A judgment is true if and only if its predicate corresponds to its object i.

Truth -- Meaning -- Reality

Five points should be kept in mind: It is intended to refer to bearers of truth or falsehood truth-value-bearers , or alternatively, to things of which it makes sense to ask whether they are true or false, thus allowing for the possibility that some of them might be neither.

One distinguishes between secondary and primary truthbearers. Secondary truthbearers are those whose truth-values truth or falsehood are derived from the truth-values of primary truthbearers, whose truth-values are not derived from any other truthbearers.

This is, however, not a brute ambiguity, since the secondary meanings are supposed to be derived, i. For example, one might hold that propositions are true or false in the primary sense, whereas sentences are true or false in a secondary sense, insofar as they express propositions that are true or false in the primary sense.

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It is often unproblematic to advocate one theory of truth for bearers of one kind and another theory for bearers of a different kind e. Different theories of truth applied to bearers of different kinds do not automatically compete. The standard segregation of truth theories into competing camps found in textbooks, handbooks, and dictionaries proceeds under the assumption—really a pretense—that they are intended for primary truthbearers of the same kind.

Confusingly, there is little agreement as to which entities are properly taken to be primary truthbearers. Nowadays, the main contenders are public language sentences, sentences of the language of thought sentential mental representations , and propositions. Popular earlier contenders—beliefs, judgments, statements, and assertions—have fallen out of favor, mainly for two reasons: The problem of logically complex truthbearers.

A subject, S, may hold a disjunctive belief the baby will be a boy or the baby will be a girl , while believing only one, or neither, of the disjuncts. Also, S may hold a conditional belief if whales are fish, then some fish are mammals without believing the antecedent or the consequent. Also, S will usually hold a negative belief not everyone is lucky without believing what is negated. This means that a view according to which beliefs are primary truthbearers seems unable to account for how the truth-values of complex beliefs are connected to the truth-values of their simpler constituents—to do this one needs to be able to apply truth and falsehood to belief-constituents even when they are not believed.

This point, which is equally fundamental for a proper understanding of logic, was made by all early advocates of propositions cf. The problem arises in much the same form for views that would take judgments, statements, or assertions as primary truthbearers. The problem is not easily evaded. Talk of unbelieved beliefs unjudged judgments, unstated statements, unasserted assertions is either absurd or simply amounts to talk of unbelieved unjudged, unstated, unasserted propositions or sentences.

It is noteworthy, incidentally, that quite a few philosophical proposals concerning truth as well as other matters run afoul of the simple observation that there are unasserted and unbelieved truthbearers cf. If the former, the state of believing, can be said to be true or false at all, which is highly questionable, then only insofar as the latter, what is believed, is true or false.

Mental sentences were the preferred primary truthbearers throughout the medieval period. They were neglected in the first half of the 20th century, but made a comeback in the second half through the revival of the representational theory of the mind especially in the form of the language-of-thought hypothesis, cf. Some time after that, e. Four points should be kept in mind: The notion of a truthmaker is tightly connected with, and dependent on, the relational notion of truthmaking: For illustration, consider a classical correspondence theory on which x is true if and only if x corresponds to some fact.

One can say a that x is made true by a fact , namely the fact or a fact that x corresponds to. But they are importantly different and must be distinguished. Note that anyone proposing a definition or account of truth can avail themselves of the notion of truthmaking in the b -sense; e. Talk of truthmaking and truthmakers goes well with the basic idea underlying the correspondence theory; hence, it might seem natural to describe a traditional fact-based correspondence theory as maintaining that the truthmakers are facts and that the correspondence relation is the truthmaking relation.

However, the assumption that the correspondence relation can be regarded as a species of the truthmaking relation is dubious. Correspondence appears to be a symmetric relation if x corresponds to y , then y corresponds to x , whereas it is usually taken for granted that truthmaking is an asymmetric relation, or at least not a symmetric one. It is hard to see how a symmetric relation could be a species of an asymmetric or non-symmetric relation cf. Talk of truthmaking and truthmakers is frequently employed during informal discussions involving truth but tends to be dropped when a more formal or official formulation of a theory of truth is produced one reason being that it seems circular to define or explain truth in terms of truthmakers or truthmaking.

However, in recent years, the informal talk has been turned into an official doctrine: This theory should be distinguished from informal truthmaker talk: Moreover, truthmaker theory should not simply be assumed to be a version of the correspondence theory; indeed, some advocates present it as a competitor to the correspondence theory see below, Section 8.

Simple Versions of the Correspondence Theory The traditional centerpiece of any correspondence theory is a definition of truth. Both forms, 1 and 2 , should be distinguished from: Arguments for the Correspondence Theory The main positive argument given by advocates of the correspondence theory of truth is its obviousness. Objections to the Correspondence Theory Objection 1: Correspondence theories are too obscure. Correspondence as Isomorphism Some correspondence theories of truth are two-liner mini-theories, consisting of little more than a specific version of 1 or 2.

No truth is identical with a fact correspondence to which is sufficient for its being a truth. Pertaining to the first aspect, familiar from mathematical contexts, a correspondence theorist is likely to adopt claim a , and some may in addition adopt claim b , of: Let us say, roughly, that a correspondence theorist may want to add a claim to her theory committing her to something like the following: If an item of kind K corresponds to a certain fact, then they have the same or sufficiently similar structure: If, on the other hand, the primary truthbearers are taken to be propositions , there is a complication: On this view, the above points still hold, since the relation between concepts, on the one hand, and the objects and properties they are concepts of , on the other, appears to be a semantic relation, a concept-semantic relation.

On the so-called Russellian view of propositions which the early Russell inherited mostly from early Moore , propositions are constituted, not of concepts of objects and properties, but of the objects and properties themselves cf. On this view, the points above will most likely fail, since the correspondence relation would appear to collapse into the identity relation when applied to true Russellian propositions.


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  • It is hard to see how a true Russellian proposition could be anything but a fact: What would a fact be , if not this sort of thing? So the principle of Nonidentity is rejected, and with it goes the correspondence theory of truth: A simple, fact-based correspondence theory, applied to propositions understood in the Russellian way, thus reduces to an identity theory of truth, on which a proposition is true iff it is a fact, and false, iff it is not a fact.

    See below, Section 8. More Objections to the Correspondence Theory Two final objections to the correspondence theory deserve separate mention. Bibliography Adams McCord, M. Notre Dame University Press. Oxford University Press , Averroes, Tahafut Al-Tahafut , trans. The Contemporary Debate , Oxford: Groundings in the Philosophy of Language , Oxford: Oxford University Press Yale University Press An Essay on the Nature of Truth , Oxford: Seven Bridges Press, The specific problem is: Section is currently based on a secondary source discussing the work.

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