The Coherence Theory of Truth

James O. Young, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Jun 27, 2018
Commentary by Stephen Downes

A naive theory of truth would be one where a sentence is true if and only if whatever it describes is actually true in the real world. This is the correspondence theory of truth. But what if you can never satisfy this? What if you can't know enough about the real world to establish correspondance? Is there no truth, then? Not necessarily - this is where the coherence theory of truth comes in. If we can have a set of consistent sentences describing the world as we know it, then that consistence itself might be enough to justify our claim that the sentences are true. The most important advocate for a coherence theory of truth today is probably Donald Davidson, and I think this newly revised article in the Stanford Encyclopedia doesn't do him justice. But it's a good brief description of a concept everybody interested in knowledge should know.

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