Theories of Truth
Truth is like the basic aspect of human life. Whenever we start pondering about this world and it’s mysteries we ask ourselves the questions like: what is reality? What is the real and what is fake? All these questions lead us to a most a most basic question like what is truth.We start with the definition of the truth,
“Truth is often defined as the belief or ideas that agree with facts and figures”
Truth is the central subject in philosophy. It is also one of the largest subjects. Truth has always been a topic of critical discussion in its very own right for thousands of years. Furthermore , a huge variety of such issues in philosophy are related to truth, either by relying on these theories about truth , or implying theses theories about truth.
It would be not possible to survey all the theories. There is something to say about truth in any coherent way. Theories of truth are very diverse and a brief discussion is required for them.
There are 3 basic theories of truth:
- Correspondence theory
- Coherence theory
- Pragmatic theory
The Correspondence Theory of Truth:
The Correspondence Theory of Truth is certainly the most common, authentic and widespread method of understanding nature of the truth and the falsehood. Put quite simply the theory of Correspondence argues that the “truth” is whatever corresponds to the reality. An idea which is corresponding with the reality is true one while an idea which is not corresponding with the reality is false.
It is very important to consider here that the “truth” is not a property of the “facts.” This may seem quite odd at first, but a clear distinction is made here between the facts and the beliefs. A fact is a set of circumstances in the world, while the belief is some opinion about what those facts are. A fact cannot be either true or false it simply is because that is the way the world is. A belief, however, has the capability of being true or false and it may or may not precisely describe the world.
In the Correspondence Theory of Truth, the main reason why certain beliefs are labeled as “true” is the reason that they correspond to those facts and figures about the world. Thus, we say that the belief that the sky is blue is a “true” one, because of the reality that the sky is blue. Also with the beliefs, one can also count statements, propositions and sentences, etc. as capable of being either true or false.
The idea that the truth consists of whatever matches the reality can be tracked back at least till Plato and was also picked up in the ideas of Aristotle. However, not long ago critics found a problem, it was perhaps best expressed in paradox formulated by Eubulides, a student of the Megara school of philosophy which was regularly at odds with Platonic and Aristotelian ideas.
According to the philosopher Eubulides, the Correspondence Theory of Truth often leaves us in the situation where we face the statements such as “I am lying” or “Whatever I am uttering here is false.” These are statements, and hence can be true or false. However, if they are true because of their correspondence with reality, then they are considered as false and if they are false because of the fact that they fail to correspond with reality, then they must be true. Thus, nit does not matter what we say about the truth or falsehood of those statements, we instantly contradict ourselves.
All these facts does not say that the Correspondence Theory of Truth is incorrect or not so worthy and, to be very perfectly honest, it is very difficult to give up such an obvious idea that truth must specifically match the reality. Nevertheless, the above criticisms should show that it probably isn’t a wide explanation of the nature of the truth. Arguably, it is a just description of what the truth should be, but it may not be an appropriate description of how truth usually “works” in human brains and social situations.
- The Coherence Theory of Truth:
- The Coherence Theory of truth is however, second in fame to the Correspondence Theory even though it often seems to be a precise description of how does our conception of truth is actually working. Put simply: a belief is considered true when one is able to incorporate it in an arranged and logical manner into a vast and complex system of beliefs or, even further simply still, a belief is considered true when it fits in with a set of all other beliefs and ideas without creating a contradiction.
- Sometimes this appears like an absurd methodology to actually describe truth. After all, a belief is an inaccurate description and explanation of reality and it fits in with a bigger, complex system of more inaccurate descriptions of reality. So according to the Coherence Theory, that incorrect belief would still be called as “truth” even though it didn’t really describe the way the world originally was.
- Well, probably … the cause is because statements can’t really be tested in isolation. Whenever you verify an idea, basically you are also testing a whole group of ideas at the same time. For instance, when you hold a ball in your hand and then drop it, it isn’t just our belief about the gravity which is examined or tested but also we test our beliefs about a lot of other things too, no less of which would be the precision of our visual perception.
- So, if values are only tested as part of bigger groups, then we might say that a statement can be called as “true” not so much due to the fact that it can be tested and approved against reality but also because it could be integrated into a group of complex ideas, the whole set of which could then be verified against reality. In this situation Coherence Theory isn’t much different from the theory of Correspondence and the cause is that while single statements may be criticized as true or false depending upon their ability to cohere with a bigger system, it is said that that system is one which precisely corresponds to the reality.
- Due to this reason of, the Coherence Theory manages to attract something important about the method we actually imagine the truth in our daily lives. This isn’t that occasional to go away something as false accurately because of the fact that it fails to cohere with a group of ideas that we are confident are true. Granted, maybe the system we imagine to be true is quite a way off the mark, but so long as it continues to be successful and is capable of slight adjustments in the light of new data, our confidence is reasonable.
The Pragmatic Theory of Truth:
- The Pragmatic Theory of truth tells that whether or not a belief is true or not based on whether it has a useful pragmatic request in the world. If it does not, then it is not true. As with Coherence Theory, truth has nothing to do with the manner the world ‘really is’ in contrary to it,s is just a function of whether an idea can be used as a model to make useful predictions about what is going to happen in the world. As a consequence the pragmatic truths can be learnt through communication with the world: we don’t find out the truth by sitting lonely in a room and thinking about it.
- There are, certainly, a number of clear objections that can be raised against the Pragmatic Theory of Truth. For one thing, the notion of “what works” is very ambiguous. Think of a belief that works in one sense, and that does not in another? For instance, a faith that one might gives a person the psychological power needed to achieve a great deal but at the end, they may be unsuccessful in their ultimate goal. Was their belief “true”?
- Moreover, when a belief “works” in the similar sense, why it is called “true”? Why do not we call it something such as “useful”? A appropriate belief is not necessary to be the same as a true belief and, the worse thing, is that people don’t commonly use the word “true” in daily conversation in the sense of useful. For instance, for an average person, the statement “my spouse is faithful is a useful belief” does not at any cost means that “It is correct that my spouse is very faithful.” It may be said that true beliefs are also commonly the ones which are useful, but not always. As Nietzsche argue, that the untruth may be sometimes more useful than truth.