PHL232H1 Lecture 3: 232 (3) Correspondence vs Coherence.docx

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Published on 2 Feb 2015
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PHL232 (3) Traditional Responses to Scepticism (II) Correspondence vs. Coherent
Theories of Truth
2015-01-12
Lecture
1. Correspondence & Coherence
Correspondence theory of truth: p is true IFF p corresponds w/ the facts
Fact—configuration of objects + properties in world
Proposition—a thing that may be believed
oConfiguration of mental symbols (symbols in language of thought)
Symbol in language of thought stands for object/property in world
Correspondence b/w propositions + facts to be explained in terms of structural
match b/w configurations of objects + properties in world + configurations of
mental tokens in mind
Coherence Theory of Truth: p true IFF p coheres w/ specific system of beliefs
System of beliefs
oP true IFF it coheres w/ our current system of beliefs
oP true IFF it coheres w/ some fundamental fragment of our current system
of beliefs
oP true IFF it coheres w/ beliefs which would be held by ideal scientific
inquirer at end of science
oP true IFF it coheres w/ God’s beliefs
oCoherence = last 3 ^
2. Arguments for Coherence Theory
Unattractive theory at first sight
Coherence as test for truth, but truth can’t be explained in terms of coherence
Arguments for coherentism:
oArgument 1: Correspondence won’t work + coherence is the only other
option on the table
oIn traditional ‘correspondence vs. coherence debate, coherentists say:
P1: Truth must be explained either in terms of correspondence
theory or in terms of coherence theory
P2: Correspondence model must be rejected b/c it faces
insuperable difficulties
C: Therefore coherence theory must be accepted
oArgument 2: Correspondence, coherence + scepticism
Correspondence theory: what makes p true is independent of our
ways of justifying belief that p
Against: ^ independence claim opens up possibility of
scepticism (b/c it entails that whether belief is true +
whether it is justified are separate questions)
Formal argument:
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P1: If the correspondence theory is true, p might be true
even thought we have no justification for believing p + we
might have best possible justification for believing that p
even though p isn’t true
P2: If your justification for belief leaves open possibility
that belief is false, belief doesn’t count as knowledge (even
if it’s true)
P3: If correspondence theory true, even our best possible
justification doesn’t secure knowledge (from 1, 2)
P4: Correspondence theory entails that none of our beliefs
count as knowledge
P5: (But) This sceptical conclusion must be resisted
P6: (So) The correspondence theory must be rejected
According to coherence theory, the consequence of 1 is
false
oArgument 3: Coherence theory of truth + coherentism a/b justification
Says that we have to accept coherentism a/b truth b/c coherentism
a/b truth entailed by coherentism a/b justification + we have to
accept coherentism a/b justification
P1: We’re concerned a/b whether our beliefs justified b/c we want
them to be true
P2: Truth is just what we’re trying to ensure that our beliefs have
when we try to make sure that they’re justified
P3: A belief is justified IFF it coheres w/ system of beliefs
P4: Truth is what we’re trying to ensure that our beliefs have by
trying to keep our system of beliefs coherent (Given by 2 + 3)
P5: In trying to keep system of beliefs coherent, we cant be
aiming at anything more than a coherent system of beliefs
P6: P is true IFF p coheres w/ system of beliefs that is determined
by our methods of justification (from 4 + 5)
3. Review
Argument for scepticism
K(p  ~biv)
~K~biv
K(p~biv)(KpK~biv)
KpK~biv
~Kp
Traditional foundationalists a/b justification reject 2 (on ground that we can derive
~biv from our foundational beliefs
Traditional coherentists a/b justification reject 2 (on grounds that ~biv) coheres w/
our beliefs + biv does not)
Coherentists a/b truth tend to accept coherentism a/b justification + reject 2 for
coherentist a/b justifications reason
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So far it looks like proponent of correspondence a/b truth can overturn argument
only by appealing to foundationalism a/b justification
Young, “Coherence Theory of Truth”
Coherence theory of truth—truth of any true proposition consists in it’s coherence
w/ some specified set of propositions
Differs from correspondence theory in 2 essential ways:
oThe competing theories give conflicting accounts of relation that
propositions bear to their truth conditions
(1) Relation is coherence
(2) Relation is correspondence
oGiving conflicting accounts of truth conditions
Coherence theory: truth conditions of propositions consists in other
propositions
Correspondence theory: truth conditions of propositions aren’t
propositions, but objective features of the world
Similarities: both present substantive conception of truth
oBoth hold that truth = property of propositions that can be analysed in
terms of sorts of truth-conditions propositions have + relations
propositions stand in to these conditions
1. Versions of Coherence Theory of Truth
Different versions differ on 2 major issues:
o(1) Different versions of the theory give different accounts of coherence
relation
Different varieties of theory give various accounts of set(s) of
propositions w/ which true propositions cohere
Early versions: coherent relation = simply consistency
oSays that proposition consistent w/ set
oUnsatisfactory account for following reasons:
What a/b propositions that don’t belong to specified set?
These proposition could both be consistent w/ specified set
+ yet inconsistent w/ each other
oCoherence relation as some form of entailment
Proposition coheres w/ set of propositions IFF its entailed by
members of set
oCoherence as mutual explanatory support b/w propositions
(2) Differ on constitution of specified set of propositions
2. Arguments for Coherence Theories of Truth
2.1 Metaphysical Route to Coherentism
Early versions associated w/ idealism
Idealists don’t believe there’s an ontological distinction b/w beliefs + what makes
beliefs true
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