World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Coherence theory of truth

Article Id: WHEBN0001972167
Reproduction Date:

Title: Coherence theory of truth  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Coherentism, Pragmatic theory of truth, Truth, Positive deconstruction, Harold Joachim
Collection: Coherentism, Epistemological Theories, Theories of Truth
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Coherence theory of truth

Coherence theory of truth regards truth as coherence within some specified set of sentences, propositions or beliefs.[1] There is no single set of such "logical universes", but rather an assortment of perspectives that are commonly discussed under this title. The model is contrasted with the correspondence theory of truth.

A positive tenet is the idea that truth is a property of whole systems of propositions and can be ascribed to individual propositions only derivatively according to their coherence with the whole. While modern coherence theorists hold that there are many possible systems to which the determination of truth may be based upon coherence, others, particularly those with strong religious beliefs hold that the such truth only applies to a single absolute system. In general, then, truth requires a proper fit of elements within the whole system. Very often, though, coherence is taken to imply something more than simple formal coherence. For example, the coherence of the underlying set of concepts is considered to be critical factor in judging its coherence and validity. In other words, the set of base concepts in a universe of discourse must form an intelligible paradigm before many theorists consider that the coherence theory of truth is applicable.

Contents

  • Varieties of coherence theories 1
  • Coherence theories in specialized domains 2
  • Connections to other philosophical groups 3
  • Criticisms 4
  • See also 5
  • Footnotes 6
  • References 7

Varieties of coherence theories

According to one view, the coherence theory of truth is the "theory of knowledge which maintains that truth is a property primarily applicable to any extensive body of consistent propositions, and derivatively applicable to any one proposition in such a system by virtue of its part in the system" (Benjamin 1962). Ideas like this are a part of the philosophical perspective known as theoretical holism (Quine & Ullian 1978). However, coherence theories of truth do not claim merely that coherence and consistency are important features of a theoretical system — they claim that these properties are sufficient to its truth. To state it in the reverse, that "truth" exists only within a system, and doesn't exist outside of a system.

According to another version of coherence theory, championed especially by H.H. Joachim, truth is a systematic coherence that involves more than logical consistency. In this view, a proposition is true to the extent that it is a necessary constituent of a systematically coherent whole. Others of this school of thought, for example, Brand Blanshard, hold that this whole must be so interdependent that every element in it necessitates, and even entails, every other element. Exponents of this view infer that the most complete truth is a property solely of a unique coherent system, called the absolute, and that humanly knowable propositions and systems have a degree of truth that is proportionate to how fully they approximate this ideal.(Baylis 1962).

Coherence theories in specialized domains

Some versions of coherence theory have been claimed to characterize the essential and intrinsic properties of formal systems in logic and mathematics.[2] A claim like this needs to be qualified by the observation that formal reasoners are content to contemplate axiomatically independent but mutually contradictory systems side by side, for example, the various alternative geometries. On the whole, coherence theories have been criticized as lacking justification in their application to other areas of truth, especially with respect to assertions about the natural world, empirical data in general, assertions about practical matters of psychology and society, especially when used without support from the other major theories of truth.[3] The response has been that empirical data does not often form a consistent whole, and that truth should not be used in contexts where consistency fails.

Connections to other philosophical groups

Coherence theories distinguish the thought of continental rationalist philosophers, especially Spinoza, Leibniz, and G.W.F. Hegel, along with the British philosopher F.H. Bradley.[4] They have found a resurgence also among several proponents of logical positivism, notably Otto Neurath and Carl Hempel.

Criticisms

Perhaps the best-known objection to a coherence theory of truth is Bertrand Russell's. Russell maintained that since both a belief and its negation will, individually, cohere with at least one set of beliefs, this means that contradictory beliefs can be shown to be true according to coherence theory, and therefore that the theory cannot work. However, what most coherence theorists are concerned with is not all possible beliefs, but the set of beliefs that people actually hold. The main problem for a coherence theory of truth, then, is how to specify just this particular set, given that the truth of which beliefs are actually held can only be determined by means of coherence.

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/truth-coherence/
  2. ^ White, Alan R. 1969. 'Coherence Theory of Truth', Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Vol.2. Macmillan: 130-131.
  3. ^ White, Alan R. 1969. 'Coherence Theory of Truth', Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Vol.2. Macmillan:131-133, see esp., section on "Epistemological assumptions"
  4. ^ White, Alan R. 1969. 'Coherence Theory of Truth', Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Vol.2. Macmillan:130

References

  • Baylis, Charles A. (1962), "Truth", pp. 321–322 in Dagobert D. Runes (ed.), Dictionary of Philosophy, Littlefield, Adams, and Company, Totowa, NJ.
  • Benjamin, A. Cornelius (1962), "Coherence Theory of Truth", p. 58 in Dagobert D. Runes (ed.), Dictionary of Philosophy, Littlefield, Adams, and Company, Totowa, NJ.
  • Kirkham, Richard L. (1992), Theories of Truth, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.
  • Quine, W.V., and Ullian, J.S. (1978), The Web of Belief, Random House, New York, NY, 1970. 2nd edition, Random House, New York, NY, 1978.
  • Runes, Dagobert D. (ed., 1962), Dictionary of Philosophy, Littlefield, Adams, and Company, Totowa, NJ.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.