Reason, truth, history

by Neil Rickert

As mentioned in an earlier post, I have been engaged in a discussion of the correspondence theory of truth.  The discussion took place on the Quick Philosophy yahoo group, where we started looking at Putnam’s book “Reason, Truth and History.”  The full discussion began on Aug. 20, 2012.

Here, I will give some links into the discussion.  I may say more on my own views of the topic in future posts.

It isn’t always easy to follow a Yahoo groups discussion.  Perhaps the easiest would be to start at the group page, then click on the month where the discussion began (in this case Aug 2012), and follow the “Newer” link at the foot of the page to continue on.  There is very little other than discussion of the Putnam book in August through October.

The specific discussion of the correspondence theory begins with a post on October 8th, which quotes the beginning of what Putnam writes.  A continuation thread begins a few days later.

My own position favors a kind of conventionalism as a theory of truth.  That, in spite of Quine’s well known paper arguing against truth by convention.  I clarified this a little later, by explaining that I see conventionalism as a theory of truth, but I also see correspondence as the intended interpretation of truth.  That’s perhaps an odd distinction.  I like to use the term “theory” in roughly the way that scientists do, and that may well be different from how philosophers use the term.

In message 1380 in that thread, Larry (one of the participants) expressed agreement with Strawson:

It seems to me, as it does to Strawson, that the particular
formulation “Truth is correspondence to the facts” is glib and vacuous.

And that is pretty much my view of the correspondence theory.

The penultimate post in that thread was mine.  And the final post seemed to agree with me.  So perhaps I found a way of presenting my theory that others found less confusing than some of what I write.

That’s my introduction to the discussion for now.  I’ll say a little more in some future posts.

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