The Nature of Truth
Uploaded by zzandman24 on Oct 30, 2011
This essay examines five theses with respect to the attempt to delineate the nature of truth.
What is truth? Is it an objective reality that’s the same for everyone? Does it exist only in relation to other factors, or is it an absolute? Men have struggled for centuries to try to answer what seems to be a simple question, but which is actually one of the most complex in history.
This paper examines five theses with regard to truth, and then compares them with other theories.
II Considering the Theses
The theses we’ll consider are: 1) that truth is utility; 2) that truth is that which ultimately everybody has to agree to; 3) that truth is that which withstands all criticisms; 4) that truth is that which best brings all our beliefs into agreement; and 5) that truth is warranted assertability. Then we’ll compare what we discover with one of these two additional ideas: that truth is correspondence to reality or that the truth of a claim consists in its describing a fact.
We’ll begin by summing up (or trying to) the reasons for each of the theses, and what has to happen for them to function. Let’s start with the idea that truth is utility.
First, obviously, we have to define ‘utility” in this context. The idea of utility is the concept that something is true if it works. This thesis then is based on the idea of usefulness (“utility”): if it works or gives a satisfactory outcome it must be true. (James says that the “true” is expedient.) (PG).
But this thesis is narrow, since it does not apparently cover everyone; that is, it doesn’t say for how many people the outcome must be true. One? A dozen? A thousand? Everyone? If we are searching for universal truths, this thesis works if we suppose that a “satisfactory outcome” means the same thing to everyone; thus the truth of this belief is dependent upon everyone agreeing to one certain outcome being better than any other.
The strong claim for this thesis would be that the truth of the claim is determined by universal agreement; the weak claim would be that we would get universal agreement by which we could determine the truth of the claim.
Contrasting positions that are true in one instance and not in another, and are still not...