Truth and Identity
In J. K. Campbell & M. O'Rourke (eds.), Meaning and Truth: Investigations Into Philosophical Semantics (2002)
According to a classical correspondence theory of truth, a proposition is true iff it corresponds to a fact. The approach has its competitors. One of them, the identity theory of truth, pushes for a surprising simplification. It says that true propositions do not correspond to facts, they are facts. Some find this view too bizarre to be taken seriously. Some are attracted to it because they worry that the correspondence theory opens a gap between our thoughts and reality--a gap that, once opened, will turn out to be unbridgeable, thus making it impossible for our thoughts to come into contact with reality and for us to attain knowledge. They think the identity theory will avoid these nasty consequences because it does not open the gap to begin with. The no-gap theme will play a role in the background of the present paper. It will surface at times. But the paper is more concerned with a different theme, the collapse-charge. Opponents of the correspondence theory sometimes charge that the theory is unstable, that it must collapse into the identity theory, because there is not enough play between true propositions and facts to leave room for a genuine relation to hold between them. Those who regard the identity theory as absurd might see this a reductio of the correspondence theory. Others might see it as an argument for the identity theory. After some exploration of the identity theory, I will present one form of the collapse-charge, then I will discuss what a correspondence theorist has to offer by way of a response.
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