Truth and Knowledge

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PHIL 200
Michael Blome Tillmann

Truth Russelian Desiderata: 1. A theory of truth must admit both truth and falsity. 2. Truth and falsity are exclusive properties. 3. The truth or falsehood of a belief depends on something that lies outside the belief itself. We shall reject 2 because: Truth bearers:  Beliefs, thoughts, ideas.  Statements, utterances, assertions.  Sentences, propositions. The term “truthbearer” is somewhat misleading; it is intended to refer to bearers of truth or falsehood; or alternatively, to things of which it makes sense to ask whether they are true or false, thus allowing for the possibility that some of them might be neither PRIMARY TRUTH BEARERS: Truth values are not derived from other truths. SECONDARY TRUTH BEARERS: Truth values are derived from other truth bearers The Correspondence Theory A proposition is true only if it corresponds with the facts. What does it mean for thoughts to ‘correspond’ to the facts of the world? 1. Correspondence (the relationship): What is correspondence over and above the relation between true propositions and the world/facts? 2. Facts and propositions (the relata): What is a fact over and above a true proposition? i.e. the correspondence theory is very circular. The Correspondence Theory runs the risk of being trivial or empty. Two versions of Correspondence Theory: 1. Definition:  P is true iff P corresponds to a fact  P is false iff P does not correspond to any fact 2. Defnition  P is true iff P corresponds to a state of affairs that obtains  P is false iff P corresponds to a state of affairs that does not obtain Facts/State of affairs are denoted by ‘that’ sentences: “That snow is white.” Facts are states of affairs that obtain.  Russel rejects definition 2 because it commits us to the existence of state of affairs that do not obtain.  Russell rejects the idea that there are non-obtaining states of affairs.  He does not reject the idea that there are objective falsehoods. Objections for Correspondence Theory 1. Too obvious. Trivial, blank, platitudinous. Condenses trivial idioms but doesn’t amount to a theory. Reply: Philosophical theories sometimes seem obvious. 2. The correspondence relation is mysterious. Is it a type of resemblance? Relata are mysterious. Facts are either mysterious, sentence-type slices of reality. Commitment to complex and strange types of facts. Reply: Isomorphism between truth bearers and truth makers. Correspondence as Isomorphism:  Truth bearers are both complex, structured entities  A truthmaker is anything that makes some truthbearer true. On a straightforward implementation of the isomorphism approach, correspondence will be a one-one relation between truths and corresponding facts, which leaves the approach vulnerable to objections against funny facts (3.F1): each true truthbearer, no matter how complex, will be ass
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