It is tempting to think that, if a person's beliefs are coherent, they are also likely to be true. This truth conduciveness claim is the cornerstone of the popular coherencetheory of knowledge and justification. Erik Olsson's new book is the most extensive and detailed study of coherence and probable truth to date. Setting new standards of precision and clarity, Olsson argues that the value of coherence has been widely overestimated. Provocative and readable, Against (...)Coherence will make stimulating reading for epistemologists and anyone with a serious interest in truth. (shrink)
In this paper, we provide a new formulation of a coherencetheory of truth using the resources of the partial structures approach -— in particular the notions of partial structure and quasi-truth. After developing this new formulation, we apply the resulting theory to the philosophy of mathematics, and argue that it can be used to develop a new account of nominalism in mathematics. This application illustrates the strength and usefulness of the proposed formulation of a (...)coherencetheory of truth. (shrink)
Quine argues, in “On the Nature of Moral Values” that a coherencetheory of truth is the “lot of ethics”. In this paper, I do a bit of work from within Quinean theory. Specifically, I explore precisely what a coherencetheory of truth in ethics might look like and what it might imply for the study of normative value theory generally. The first section of the paper is dedicated to the exposition of (...) a formally correct coherencetruth predicate, the possibility of which has been the subject of some skepticism. In the final two sections of the paper, I claim that a coherencetheory in ethics does not reduce the practice of moral inquiry to absurdity, in practice as well as in principle. (shrink)
Although its use is not universal, there is a map of the logical space of theories of truth that is widely applied. According to this map, the most foundational divide amongst theories of truth is that between deflationary and inflationary theories, where, roughly, the former hold that truth is an insubstantial, logical property of little philosophical interest and the latter that it is a substantial property suitable for philosophical attention. Amongst the inflationary theories, there are other fundamental (...) divisions. For example, on the one hand, correspondence theorists hold that the truth of a proposition is a matter of the proposition’s standing in a relation to something else which is not a proposition, such as a fact. On the other hand, coherence theorists hold that the truth of a proposition is a matter of its relations to other propositions. And again, pragmatists hold that the truth of a proposition is a matter of its being useful to believe. Throughout the twentieth century, philosophers used one or other version of this map to orient themselves and their students in the often complex and confusing debates about truth, even while acknowledging that the map may be incomplete in crucial respects (it does not include functionalist and pluralist views, for example). Our objection to the map is not that it is incomplete—although it obviously is—, but that it needs to be radically redrawn. In particular, the familiar division between coherence theories and correspondence theories needs to be rethought. The coherencetheory is so often glibly dismissed as absurd that labelling someone as a coherence theorist is often seen as reason enough to ignore them.1 While none of the philosophers usually so labelled should be ignored, we shall argue (§3) that none of them actually held this view anyway. The difficulty—perhaps impossibility—of finding a genuine coherence theorist of truth strikes us as more than just an indication that this is a rare animal. Rather, it suggests the possibility of something significant, namely, that the only occupant of this position in historical space is a set of slogans; this would give us some reason to suppose that the logical space of theories is just as empty at this point.. (shrink)
Recent critics of the coherencetheory of truth (notably Ralph Walker) have alleged that the theory is incoherent, since its defence presupposes the correctness of the contrary correspondence theory of truth. Coherentists must specify the system of propositions with which true propositons cohere (the specified system). Generally, coherentists claim that the specified system is a system composed of propositions believed by a community. Critics of coherentism maintain that the coherentist’s assertions about which system is (...) the specified system must be true, not because they cohere with a system of beliefs, but because of facts about what a community believes. I argue that coherentists can admit that there are facts about what systems of beliefs communities accept, without being committed to the claim that these facts are the truth conditions of sentences about what communities accept. (shrink)
Against blanshard's classic argument for coherence, i maintain that coherence is neither the sole criterion nor nature of truth. in the face of blanshard's insistence that, since truth cannot be a matter of correspondence it must necessarily be a matter of coherence, i propose and defend a third option which combines the two polar positions. i develop this option through analysis of kant's writings on truth.
Focusing on Truth explores the question of what truth is, balancing historical with issue-orientated discussion. The book offers a comprehensive survey of all the major theories of truth. Lawrence Johnson investigates a number of closely related matters of truth in his inquiry, such as: What sorts of things are true or false? What is attributed to them when they are said to be true or false? What do facts have to do with truth? What can (...) we learn from previous theories? The book opens with an analysis of the coherencetheory of truth and then the correspondence theory of truth, as developed by Moore, Russell and Wittgenstein. Through a study of the semantic conceptions of truth, the author reveals that an adequate theory of truth must take account of the pragmatics of person, purpose, and circumstance. A full understanding of facts and truth bearers is considered central to Johnson's criticism of the opposing truth theories of J. L. Austin and P. F. Strawson. Drawing on the merits of these theories and others, while identifying their deficiencies, Johnson presents a new account of truth, based on the correlation of referential foci and the use of linguistic conventions. This account is defended as being adequate to meet the legitimate demands made on a theory of truth. Johnson argues that the account leaves scope for statements of many different sorts to be true in their own widely varying ways, without the existence of a need to posit fundamentally different kinds of truth. (shrink)
The concept of truth arises from puzzling over distinctions between the real and the apparent, while the origin of these distinctions lies in the neurobiology of mammalian cerebral lateralization, that is, in the evolution of brains that can address the world both indicatively and subjunctively; brains that represent the world both categorically and hypothetically. After some 2,500 years of thinking about it, the Western philosophical tradition has come up with three major theories of truth: correspondence, coherence, and (...) pragmatist. Traditional philosophy has nevertheless failed to arbitrate much among these views; certainly no clear winner has emerged. I argue, however, that contemporary neuroscience provides adequate theoretical grounds for a unified theory of truth. More specifically, I contend that the correspondence, the coherence, and the pragmatic utility of symbols are each biological features of our neurophysiological information processing systems—that is to say, our brains. On my view, the traditional trifurcation of philosophical accounts of the predicate, “is true”, stems from a trifurcation of focus on the information latent in sensory, motor, and somatosensory cortices of the human brain. (shrink)
I argue that coherentists can admit that there are facts about what systems of beliefs communities accept, without being committed to the claim that these facts are the truth conditions of sentences about what communities accept. (edited).
Nearly every common theory of truth has been attributed to Nietzsche, while some commentators have argued that he simply has no theory of truth. This essay argues that Nietzsche’s remarks on truth are better situated within either the coherence or pragmatist theories of truth rather than the correspondence theory. Nietzsche’s thoughts conflict with the correspondence framework because he believes that the truth-conditions of propositions are constitutively related to our interests and that (...)truth is approximate. (shrink)
This work presents a version of the correspondence theory of truth based on Wittgenstein's Tractatus and Russell's theory of truth and discusses related metaphysical issues such as predication, facts, and propositions. Like Russell and one prominent interpretation of the Tractatus it assumes a realist view of universals. Part of the aim is to avoid Platonic propositions, and although sympathy with facts is maintained in the early chapters, the book argues that facts as real entities (...) are not needed. It includes discussion of contemporary philosophers such as David Armstrong, William Alston, and Paul Horwich, as well as those who write about propositions and facts, and a number of recent students of Bertrand Russell. It will interest teachers and advanced students of philosophy who are interested in the realistic conception of truth and in issues in metaphysics related to the correspondence theory of truth, and those interested in Russell and the Tractatus. (shrink)
This book argues that correspondence theories of truth fail because the relation that holds between a true thought and a fact is that of identity, not correspondence. Facts are not complexes of worldly entities which make thoughts true they are merely true thoughts. According to Julian Dodd, the resulting modest identity theory , while not defining truth, correctly diagnoses the failure of correspondence theories, and thereby prepares the ground for a defensible deflation of the concept of (...) class='Hi'>truth. (shrink)
The correspondence theory of truth holds that each true sentence corresponds to a discrete fact. Donald Davidson and others have argued (using an argument that has come to be known as the slingshot) that this theory is mistaken, since all true sentences correspond to the same “Great Fact.” The argument is designed to show that by substituting logically equivalent sentences and coreferring terms for each other in the context of sentences of the form ‘P corresponds to the (...) fact that P’ every true sentence can be shown to correspond to the same facts as every other true sentence. The claim is that all substitution of logically equivalent sentences and coreferring terms takes place salva veritate. I argue that the substitution of coreferring terms in this context need not preserve truth. The slingshot fails to refute the correspondence theory. (shrink)
The pragmatic theory of truth (PTT) seeks to illuminate the concept of truth by focusing on concepts like usefulness or adaptivity. However, contrary to common opinion, PTT does not merely face a narrow band of (perhaps) rather artificial counterexamples (as in a case of empirically unfounded but life-extending optimism in a cancer patient); instead, PTT is faced with a fast psychological research literature which suggests that inaccurate beliefs are both (1) pervasive in human beings and, nonetheless, (2) (...) fully adaptive in many cases. Call this the "pervasive adaptive illusions" (PAI) objection to PTT. According to PAI, the kind of connection drawn by PTT between the beliefs that we (intuitively or pretheoretically) regard as "true" and the beliefs we regard as useful is undercut by hard-nosed empirical work in psychology -- work that no empirically minded pragmatist can ignore. According to PAI, the connection drawn between truth and utility by PTT is subject to a simply overwhelming set of counterexamples (drawn from psychological research, and reviewed below). Thus, PTT is a theory any sensible theorist of truth must reject. (shrink)
It is argued that if there are truth-value gaps then the disquotational theory of truth is false. Secondly, it is argued that the same conclusion can be reached even without the assumption that there are truth-value gaps.
We investigate axiomatizations of Kripke's theory of truth based on the Strong Kleene evaluation scheme for treating sentences lacking a truth value. Feferman's axiomatization KF formulated in classical logic is an indirect approach, because it is not sound with respect to Kripke's semantics in the straightforward sense: only the sentences that can be proved to be true in KF are valid in Kripke's partial models. Reinhardt proposed to focus just on the sentences that can be proved to (...) be true in KF and conjectured that the detour through classical logic in KF is dispensable. We refute Reinhardt's Conjecture, and provide a direct axiomatization PKF of Kripke's theory in partial logic. We argue that any natural axiomatization of Kripke's theory in Strong Kleene logic has the same proof-theoretic strength as PKF, namely the strength of the system RA< ωω ramified analysis or a system of Tarskian ramified truth up to ωω. Thus any such axiomatization is much weaker than Feferman's axiomatization KF in classical logic, which is equivalent to the system RA<ε₀ of ramified analysis up to ε₀. (shrink)
The identity theory of truth takes on different forms depending on whether it is combined with a dual relation or a multiple relation theory of judgment. This paper argues that there are two significant problems for the dual relation identity theorist regarding thought’s answerability to reality, neither of which takes a grip on the multiple relation identity theory.
What is the relation between coherence and truth? This paper rejects numerous answers to this question, including the following: truth is coherence; coherence is irrelevant to truth; coherence always leads to truth; coherence leads to probability, which leads to truth. I will argue that coherence of the right kind leads to at least approximate truth. The right kind is explanatory coherence, where explanation consists in describing mechanisms. We (...) can judge that a scientific theory is progressively approximating the truth if it is increasing its explanatory coherence in two key respects: broadening by explaining more phenomena and deepening by investigating layers of mechanisms. I sketch an explanation of why deepening is a good epistemic strategy and discuss the prospect of deepening knowledge in the social sciences and everyday life. (shrink)
The coherence of the whole truth is a presupposition of any holistic coherencetheory of justification that postulates a positive connection between justification and truth, for unless the whole truth is itself systemically coherent there is no reason to look for systemic coherence when deciding whether one is justified in accepting a given body of beliefs as true. This paper develops a formal model of holistic evidential coherence and uses this model to (...) formalize and defend the claim that the whole truth must be coherent in an evidential sense. (shrink)
In a 1994 ANALYSIS article Peter Klein and Ted Warfield show that an epistemically more coherent set of beliefs often has a smaller unconditional probability of joint truth than some of its less coherent subsets. They conclude that epistemic justification, as understood in one version of a coherencetheory of justification, is not truth conducive. After getting clear about what truth conduciveness requires, I show that their argument does not tell against BonJour's coherence (...) class='Hi'>theory. (shrink)