Monday, April 18, 2005

What is truth?

Usually when we say something is true we mean that it corresponds to reality. If I say, "Willie swiped a pan of cornbread," and if, in reality, Willie really did swipe a pan of cornbread, then what I said was true. If he didn't swipe a pan of cornbread, then it's not true. What I'm describing is called the correspondence theory of truth.

The correspondence theory of truth isn't really a theory about truth; it's the definition of truth. It's what we all mean when we say that something is true. Words are defined by their use, and this is the way everybody uses the word "true" in their everyday lives. Even people who claim to subscribe to the coherence theory, the pragmatic theory or whatever other theories of truth there are, when they hear some story, and they ask, "Is that true?" they want to know if it really happened. People only subscribe to other theories of truth when they're writing philosophy papers or having a philosophical discussion. If people are going to mean something by "truth" besides "correspondence with reality," then they really ought to just use a different word and avoid all the confusion.


At 4/19/2005 5:10 PM , Blogger Mike - said...

How true! 8 )

And very well stated.


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