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Theories of Truth

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The introduction to this unit identified four distinct approaches to our understanding of truth:

- Correspondence theory
- Coherence theory
- Pragmatic theory
- Cognitive relativism

Think of a statement about ordinary life whose truth conditions seem to fit best naturally with one of these approaches in particular. Explain your example, and then think about what it would be like to assess the truth of this statement from one of the other approaches: What does the contrast tell us about how we understand the world around us?

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Hi there! Thanks for the opportunity to help you; I hope this does so.

It might be best to try approaching this question in terms of what one theory would need to see in order to define something as "true." For example, the Correspondence Theory might say, "If this matches with what we see in the external world, then it is true." However, a Pragmatic Theorist would need to see if something works effectively in order for it to be true, not just that something ...

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The theories of the truth are discussed.

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) In your words, what is James' theory of truth? Using James' theory, assess the truth of the statement "the world is flat" for a traveler in the 5 th century.

2) What two personality types did James identify? How did he characterize them? Which one did he see as more realistic and which did he consider better for us psychologically? Do you agree with James?

1) In your words, what is James' theory of truth? Using James' theory, assess the truth of the statement "the world is flat" for a traveler in the 5th century.

James uses the words "truth" in the same way that most of us use the word "useful" today. Essentially he taught that if a belief was useful or if it "worked" then it was true. If I believe that my car is a reliable safe car and I have never had an accident in it and it gets me to work on time without breaking down, then that belief is true. If I believe my kids are good kids because they meet my standard of "good" then my belief about them is true. In a very real sense James' theory of truth is tied to the interaction of an individual with the world around him. Truth cannot be discovered by meditating on an unsolved question. Truth can only be discovered by living life and trying out my ideas in the real world. One consequence of James' theory is that truth is a very individualistic concept. Universal, absolute truth would be very hard to come by if not impossible.

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