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As we have already discussed, forms of it were held by British idealists such as Joachim, and later by Blanshard in America. An idealist should see the last step in the justification argument as quite natural. More generally, an idealist will see little if any room between a system of beliefs and the world it is about, leaving the coherence theory of truth as an extremely natural option. It is possible to be an idealist without adopting a coherence theory.

For instance, many scholars read Bradley as holding a version of the identity theory of truth. See Baldwin for some discussion. However, it is hard to see much of a way to hold the coherence theory of truth without maintaining some form of idealism. Walker argues that every coherence theorist must be an idealist, but not vice-versa. The neo-classical correspondence theory seeks to capture the intuition that truth is a content-to-world relation. It captures this in the most straightforward way, by asking for an object in the world to pair up with a true proposition. The neo-classical coherence theory, in contrast, insists that truth is not a content-to-world relation at all; rather, it is a content-to-content, or belief-to-belief, relation.

The coherence theory requires some metaphysics which can make the world somehow reflect this, and idealism appears to be it. A distant descendant of the neo-classical coherence theory that does not require idealism will be discussed in section 6. For more on the coherence theory, see Walker and the entry on the coherence theory of truth.

A different perspective on truth was offered by the American pragmatists. As with the neo-classical correspondence and coherence theories, the pragmatist theories go with some typical slogans. For example, Peirce is usually understood as holding the view that:. See, for instance Hartshorne et al. Both Peirce and James are associated with the slogan that:. James e. True beliefs are guaranteed not to conflict with subsequent experience. See Misak for an extended discussion. This marks an important difference between the pragmatist theories and the coherence theory we just considered.

Even so, pragmatist theories also have an affinity with coherence theories, insofar as we expect the end of inquiry to be a coherent system of beliefs. As Haack also notes, James maintains an important verificationist idea: truth is what is verifiable. We will see this idea re-appear in section 4. For more on pragmatist theories of truth, see Misak Modern forms of the classical theories survive.

Many of these modern theories, notably correspondence theories, draw on ideas developed by Tarski. In this regard, it is important to bear in mind that his seminal work on truth is very much of a piece with other works in mathematical logic, such as his , and as much as anything this work lays the ground-work for the modern subject of model theory — a branch of mathematical logic, not the metaphysics of truth.

In the classical debate on truth at the beginning of the 20th century we considered in section 1, the issue of truth-bearers was of great significance. Many theories we reviewed took beliefs to be the bearers of truth. In contrast, Tarski and much of the subsequent work on truth takes sentences to be the primary bearers of truth. But whereas much of the classical debate takes the issue of the primary bearers of truth to be a substantial and important metaphysical one, Tarski is quite casual about it.

His primary reason for taking sentences as truth-bearers is convenience, and he explicitly distances himself from any commitment about the philosophically contentious issues surrounding other candidate truth-bearers e. We will return to the issue of the primary bearers of truth in section 6. But it should be stressed that for this discussion, sentences are fully interpreted sentences, having meanings. We will also assume that the sentences in question do not change their content across occasions of use, i.

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In some places e. This is an adequacy condition for theories, not a theory itself. In light of this, Convention T guarantees that the truth predicate given by the theory will be extensionally correct , i. Tarski does not merely propose a condition of adequacy for theories of truth, he also shows how to meet it. But truth can be defined for all of them by recursion. This may look trivial, but in defining an extensionally correct truth predicate for an infinite language with four clauses, we have made a modest application of a very powerful technique.

They do not stop with atomic sentences. Tarski notes that truth for each atomic sentence can be defined in terms of two closely related notions: reference and satisfaction.

Tarski goes on to demonstrate some key applications of such a theory of truth. This was especially important to Tarski, who was concerned the Liar paradox would make theories in languages containing a truth predicate inconsistent. The correspondence theory of truth expresses the very natural idea that truth is a content-to-world or word-to-world relation: what we say or think is true or false in virtue of the way the world turns out to be.

We suggested that, against a background like the metaphysics of facts, it does so in a straightforward way. But the idea of correspondence is certainly not specific to this framework. Indeed, it is controversial whether a correspondence theory should rely on any particular metaphysics at all. Yet without the metaphysics of facts, the notion of correspondence as discussed in section 1. This has led to two distinct strands in contemporary thinking about the correspondence theory. One strand seeks to recast the correspondence theory in a way that does not rely on any particular ontology.

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Another seeks to find an appropriate ontology for correspondence, either in terms of facts or other entities. We will consider each in turn. Tarski himself sometimes suggested that his theory was a kind of correspondence theory of truth. Whether his own theory is a correspondence theory, and even whether it provides any substantial philosophical account of truth at all, is a matter of controversy. One rather drastic negative assessment from Putnam —86, p. As it is normally understood, reference is the preeminent word-to-world relation.

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Satisfaction is naturally understood as a word-to-world relation as well, which relates a predicate to the things in the world that bear it. The Tarskian recursive definition shows how truth is determined by reference and satisfaction, and so is in effect determined by the things in the world we refer to and the properties they bear. This, one might propose, is all the correspondence we need. It is not correspondence of sentences or propositions to facts; rather, it is correspondence of our expressions to objects and the properties they bear, and then ways of working out the truth of claims in terms of this.

This is certainly not the neo-classical idea of correspondence. In not positing facts, it does not posit any single object to which a true proposition or sentence might correspond. Rather, it shows how truth might be worked out from basic word-to-world relations. As we will discuss more fully in section 4. Rather, it offers a number of disquotation clauses , such as:. These clauses have an air of triviality though whether they are to be understood as trivial principles or statements of non-trivial semantic facts has been a matter of some debate.

With Field, we might propose to supplement clauses like these with an account of reference and satisfaction. In , Field was envisaging a physicalist account, along the lines of the causal theory of reference. This should inter alia guarantee that truth is really determined by word-to-world relations, so in conjunction with the Tarskian recursive definition, it could provide a correspondence theory of truth. Such a theory clearly does not rely on a metaphysics of facts. Indeed, it is in many ways metaphysically neutral, as it does not take a stand on the nature of particulars, or of the properties or universals that underwrite facts about satisfaction.

However, it may not be entirely devoid of metaphysical implications, as we will discuss further in section 4. Much of the subsequent discussion of Field-style approaches to correspondence has focused on the role of representation in these views.

These are instances of representation relations. According to representational views, meaningful items, like perhaps thoughts or sentences or their constituents, have their contents in virtue of standing in the right relation to the things they represent. The project of developing a naturalist account of the representation relation has been an important one in the philosophy of mind and language.

See the entry on mental representation. But, it has implications for the theory of truth. Representational views of content lead naturally to correspondence theories of truth. To make this vivid, suppose you hold that sentences or beliefs stand in a representation relation to some objects.

It is natural to suppose that for true beliefs or sentences, those objects would be facts. We then have a correspondence theory, with the correspondence relation explicated as a representation relation: a truth bearer is true if it represents a fact. As we have discussed, many contemporary views reject facts, but one can hold a representational view of content without them.

The relations of reference and satisfaction are representation relations, and truth for sentences is determined compositionally in terms of those representation relations, and the nature of the objects they represent.


If we have such relations, we have the building blocks for a correspondence theory without facts. Field anticipated a naturalist reduction of the representation via a causal theory, but any view that accepts representation relations for truth bearers or their constituents can provide a similar theory of truth. See Jackson and Lynch for further discussion. Representational views of content provide a natural way to approach the correspondence theory of truth, and likewise, anti-representational views provide a natural way to avoid the correspondence theory of truth.

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This is most clear in the work of Davidson, as we will discuss more in section 6. There have been a number of correspondence theories that do make use of facts. Some are notably different from the neo-classical theory sketched in section 1.

For instance, Austin proposes a view in which each statement understood roughly as an utterance event corresponds to both a fact or situation, and a type of situation.