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The Two Major Theories of Truth

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“Truth is relative” (Velasquez, p. 433, 2017). The meaning behind this statement is the fact that there is no objective truth in the world, humans only have a few ways to gauge their own subjective truths through life experience. Two major theories of truth are known as the Correspondence Theory and the Coherence Theory. Many philosophers including Descartes, John Locke, and Immanuel Kant had provided their own slightly varying notions of the Correspondence Theory which proved its worth as usable.

The Correspondence Theory in actuality is how spoken word, and said truth conforms to reality. If a student is told by their teacher that water freezes at below 32 degrees celsius, that information becomes factual truth as in reality, water does turn to ice at below 32 degrees celsius. When people pass along information as fact, the only way to test that supposed fact’s truthfulness is by seeing how that information relates to the real, material universe. In relation to the prior example, the teacher was truthful in their claims as real world evidence corresponds with the information communicated to the student.

There are challenges to the Correspondence Theory as scaling truth goes far beyond simple comparisons. “To which fact is a true proposition supposed to correspond?” (Velasquez, p. 438, 2017). The meaning behind this statement challenges the whole foundation of the Correspondence Theory. How can one determine a proposition to be true if the initial truth is yet another proposition? This notion may seem a bit convoluted, but there is a cyclic nature to philosophy that leads us back to the intial question we asked in the first place. The Correspondence Theory depends entirely upon a fact being true (such as water’s freezing levels), but what does one use to correspond that fact to? In essence, the Correspondence Theory uses only one branch of (relative) truth and that may lead to more questions and less conclusive answers.

“Truth is not correspondence between a belief and a fact in the real world. Instead, truth consists of coherence between a belief and other beliefs” (Velasquez, p. 439, 2017). The preceeding principle challenges the Correspondence Theory of truth as it states truth, at its core, is still (subjective) and only belief. When one tells another that the sky is blue, they are telling the truth in accordance to the Correspondence Theory and the Coherence Theory, but the Coherence Theory recognizes that all parts of this truth are still only beliefs. The Coherence Theory creates infintessimal pathways across communication and truth as it poses more questions than answers in the end.

The Chapter 6 lectures provide an easier way of seeing how the Coherence Theory works in the real world. A ‘series (or set) of beliefs put in motion at any given time’ mentioned within the lecture structure how the Coherence Theory challenges the Correspondence Theory. Staying out of the street to avoid the danger of being run over follows the Coherence Theory moreso than the Correspondence Although people may have not experienced a scenario for themselves, they trust the experience of others going through it and use that set of beliefs to keep themselves intact. This truth theory may seem more prevalent in daily life, but it actually makes the Correspondence Theory more necessary and in turn becomes a yin and yang situation. Both of these truth theories are necessary to understand the train of thought when a person gives off truth.

I believe that both theories of truth are applicable in waking life, but the Correspondence Theory is moreso accesible when explaining why something is true. There is not enough time in the day to explain why the sky is blue, but knowing that the sky is in fact blue helps us correspond many other truths within our day. The Coherence Theory poses deep questions meant for a discussion on the universe and philosophy as a whole whereas the Correspondence Theory is more practical for relaying facts. In the end, one can see that it all becomes subjective because the root of all truth stems from a single question: where did all this come from?

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