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The Theories Of Truth Essay

1224 words - 5 pages

Truth is often something people take for granted. We believe that because we witness or experience something then it’s true. A color-blind person may see a red table as grey and say the table is grey, contending that’s the truth even when everyone else states the table is red. As humans, we have the tendency to base truth off personal experience even if we’re wrong. Indeed, even the majority of people within a community have mistaken the truth. A few centuries ago it was believed the world was flat and, if one sailed far enough, one would quite literally fall off the edge of the Earth. As absurd as it sounds now, in the past it was espoused as undeniable truth.

Interestingly, this occurs with less material truths as well. Take, for example, the moral concepts of slavery. In recent history our supposed truth on the subject has taken a dramatic shift. Whereas previously slavery was seen as the norm, even as a right (based off believed superiority), it’s vehemently rejected now. Because of this, human’s idea of truth has been on constant flux. It may be contended that we do not know what is true and what isn’t. Indeed, our history supports such a claim considering how often we contradict our own beliefs we presume are truth.

What, then, is the most acceptable theory of truth? Perhaps it’s none of the four: correspondence, coherence, pragmatist, and deflationary. Each has undeniably gaping flaws which cause the theory to fail in giving an explanation of the truth. Take, for example, the correspondence theory which states a truth must correspond to a fact. First, we must define what fact is. Perhaps one definition is something that can be physically verified and always be the case. What, then, of moral truths? The correspondence theory holds a strikingly weak position on these, as moral truths are hard, if not impossible, to correspond with a fact. After all, how do we ensure something is a fact if it’s intangible and unverifiable, and seem to be in constant flux? Indeed, the correspondence theory mainly allows only tautologies, which would imply moral truths do not exist. For many, this is simply hard to swallow. We rely on moral truths for the creation of laws, as guidance for our actions, in determining whether someone is generally good or bad, and for understanding what humanity means. We also seem to have an inherent belief in moral truths. Furthermore, it would seem the correspondence theory provides no insight into truth; if something is a tautology then stating it’s a truth is just rehashing the tautology in new wording.

Of course, this is what the deflationist theory proposes: truth is a useless idea that provides no insight into the world, statements, or events and, in fact, doesn’t exist. However, few people seem to accept this. If there is no truth, then how do we justify actions and, again, explain the idea of moral truths? Furthermore, how can truth be non-existent yet play such an integral role in our lives? And finally, doesn’t...

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