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Sustainability, Spirit & Community

Truth

This article is primarily concerned with truth as it is used in the evaluation of assertions. For example, "The world is a sphere" is true. When used in this way, it is properly contrasted with false. Truth is a concept of primary importance to Philosophy, Science, Law, and Religion.

__Theories of truth__

The study of truth is part of philosophical logic and Epistemology. Sentences, propositions, statements, ideas, beliefs, and judgments can be true, and are called truth bearers by philosophers.

There are several broad theories about truth that philosophers and logicians have proposed.

* The Correspondence Theory of truth sees truth as correspondence with objective reality. Thus, a statement is said to be true just in case it expresses a state of affairs in the world.
* The Coherence Theory sees truth as coherence with some specified set of statements. Usually the set is identified as the statements that make up what is the best justified and most complete description of the world.
* The Consensus Theory, invented by Charles Sanders Peirce sees truth as something agreed upon by some specified group, such as all competent investigators.
* Pragmatism sees truth as the success of the practical consequences of an idea, i.e. its utility.
* Social Constructivism holds that truth is constructed by social processes, and it represents the power struggles within a community.

Each can be interpreted as either a definition of the fundamental nature of truth, or as a criterion for determining truth values. So, for instance, a realist might define truth as correspondence with the facts, and argue that the only valid way to determine the truth of a proposition is to see if it corresponds to the facts. A Coherentist might also define truth as correspondence with mind-independent reality, but also maintain that the truth or falsity of a statement is determined by its cohering with the body of accepted scientific knowledge. Pierce in his later writings thought that truth was defined as correspondence with reality, but held that the truth or falsity of a proposal was determined by the agreement of the relevant experts.

The semantic theory of truth has as its general case for a given language:

'P' is true if and only if P

where 'P' is a reference to the sentence (the sentence's name), and P is just the sentence itself. As its inventor, philosopher-logician Alfred Tarski, acknowledged, the semantic theory cannot be applied to any natural language, such as English. One reason for this is that, when accurately and fully expressed, the semantic theory requires that each predicate in a language must have its satisfaction conditions specified separately. Since natural languages have an infinite number of predicates, a semantic theory of truth can never be actually expressed for a natural language.

Tarski thought of his theory as a species of correspondence theory, in which the term on the right is assumed to correspond to the facts.

Deflationary theories, after Gottlob Frege and F. P. Ramsey, also allege that "truth" is not the name of some property of propositions — some thing about which one could have a theory. The belief that truth is a property is just an illusion caused by the fact that we have the predicate "is true" in our language. Since most predicates name properties, we naturally assume that "is true" does as well. But, they say, statements that seem to predicate truth are actually doing nothing more than signal agreement with the statement. For example, the redundancy theory of truth holds that to assert that a statement is true is just to assert the statement itself. Thus, to say that "It is true that snow is white" is to say nothing more nor less than that show is white. A second example is the performative theory of truth which holds that to say "It is true that snow is white" is to perform the speech act of signalling one's agreement with the claim that snow is white (much like nodding one's head in agreement). The idea that some statements are more actions than communicative statements is not as odd as it may seem. Consider, for example, that when the bride says "I do" at the appropriate time in a wedding, she is performing the act of taking this man to be her lawful wedded husband. She is not describing herself as taking this man. A third type of deflationary theory is the disquotational theory which uses a variant form of Tarski's schema: To say that '"P" is true' is to say that P.

__Subjective vs. objective__

Subjective truths are those with which we are most intimately acquainted. That I like broccoli or that I have a pain in my foot are both subjectively true. Metaphysical subjectivism holds that all we have are such truths. That is, that all we can know about are, one way or another, our own subjective experiences. This view does not necessarily reject realism. But at the least claims that we cannot have direct knowledge of the real world.

In contrast, Objective truths are supposed in some way to be independent of our subjective beliefs and tastes. Such truths would subsist not in the mind but in the external object.

__Relative vs. absolute__

Relative truths are statements or propositions that are true only relative to some standard or convention or point-of-view. Usually the standard cited is the tenets of one's own culture. Everyone agrees that the truth or falsity of some statements is relative: That the fork is to the left of the spoon depends on where one stands. But Relativism is the doctrine that all truths within a particular domain (say, Morality or Aesthetics) are of this form, and Relativism entails that what is true varies across cultures and eras. For example, Moral relativism is the view that moral truths are socially determined. Some logical issues about Relativism are taken up in the article on the Relativist Fallacy.

Relative truths can be contrasted with absolute truths. The latter are statements or propositions that are taken to be true for all cultures and all eras. For example, for Muslims Allahu Akbar expresses an absolute truth; for the micro economist, that the laws of supply and demand determine the value of any consumable in a market economy is true in all situations; for the Kantian, "act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law" forms an absolute moral truth. They are statements that are often claimed to emanate from the very nature of the universe, God, or some other ultimate essence or transcendental signifier. But some absolutists claim that the doctines they regard as absolute arise from certain universal facts of human nature.

Absolutism in a particular domain of thought is the view that all statements in that domain are either absolutely true or absolutely false: none is true for some cultures or eras while false for other cultures or eras. For example, Moral Absolutism is the view that moral claims such as "Abortion is wrong" or "Charity is good" are either true for all people in all times or false for all people in all times.nike air max 1 trainers