Theories of Truth in Philosophy - Free Essay

Published: 2019-08-28
Theories of Truth in Philosophy - Free Essay
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Philosophy
Pages: 8
Wordcount: 1949 words
17 min read

Identification of the Problem

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Truth is one of the most complex problems in philosophy. It is a metaphysical problem that has been in discussions in philosophy for several years. Besides, many issues in philosophy rely on the concept of truth, either by reaffirming the truth or by implying the truth in various philosophical theses. The main problem as far as the understanding of truth in philosophy is concerned relates to two main issues; what is the truth and what makes them true. This paper analyzes the metaphysical problem of truth and any philosophical theories that can be used to address this problem comprehensively.

From laymans perspective, the truth can simply be defined as the expressions about the reality of the world. It is fidelity to an established original standard or original idea. It is often used in various contexts to imply authenticity, adherence to reality or fact, and being true to self. Many human activities rely on the concept of truth. As such, propagating falsehood is likely to incur legal or societal penalties since falsehood can negatively affect people plans for the future. The nature of truth itself has been a subject of controversy in philosophy for several; years. For example some philosophers are of the opinion that the nature of truth as concept is very basic and need not be described or explained in other words that can be easier to comprehend rather than the truth itself. On the other hand, some other philosophers consider this definition of truth to be secondary. For example, Martin Heidegger asserts that the original meaning of the concept of truth can be established from ancient Greek philosophy. According to him, truth in ancient Greek implies unconcealment or exposing what had previously been hidden and bringing it to the fore. The original Greek term for truth is Aletheia, which means to expose something or make it open. Conversely, other philosophers, mostly pragmatists like Pierce C. S., consider truth to be essentially related to human practices that focus on finding out or discovering the truth. Therefore, truth can only be considered as what an individual will find out or discover on matter in the process of finding out the truth.

These differences among philosophers as to what constitutes the nature of truth have been problematic in metaphysics for thousands of years. In as much as there are many different theories that seek to explain the nature of truth and what constitutes truth, these theories remain debatable among philosophers and other scholars. Consequently, there are five core areas that make truth such a problematic metaphysical concept. For example, philosophers differ mostly on issues such as what constitutes truth and what are some of the things that the truth bearers are capable of being false of true. Furthermore, philosophers debate over how to define and identify the truth. Also, the other critical issues in exploring the nature of truth are the role of empirical and faith-based knowledge in discovering the truth. Finally, there are also arguments as to whether the truth is subjective, objective, absolute, or relative.

Theories of truth in philosophy can help create a foundation for understating the truth. These theories are essentially the explanations of the different nature of truth as well as providing a set of law that true things must satisfy in order to be considered true. Some of the most common theories of truth are as discussed below.

Correspondence theory

This is one of the oldest theories of truth in philosophy and the most intuitive explanation of truth. According to this perspective, a statement is only true if the world it describes the real world. Thus, truth has to conform or correspond to known and acceptable facts. For example, the statement that snow is white can only be considered to be true if in deed the snow it describes is white in the real world. Similarly, a statement such as My name is Job can only be considered true if the actual name of the person saying it is called Job. Therefore, this theory is based on the relationship between the statements being said and the actual objects in the real world. Thus, the truth or falsity of a proposition lies entirely on its relation to the things they describe, and whether they accurately represent or describe those things. This is an ancient classical or neoclassical theory that was used by ancient Greek philosophers, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. The correspondence theory largely rests on the notion that truth is simply a matter of copying objective reality and representing the reality in symbols, words, and thoughts.

Some philosophers have found this theory to be inadequate or defective it its definition of what constitutes the truth for various reasons. For instance, one major problem with the correspondence theory is that it relates two things, which are very different in nature. It is very difficult to establish a relationship between two things that exist in different realms. For example, a statement such as snow is white, represents a mental thought or an idea that exists only in the mind. On the other hand, tis mental thought is being related to reality that is made of the real objects such as the snow. Therefore, it can be very difficult to establish any correspondence between the words snow is white in my head and the fact that snow is white in reality. Furthermore, this correspondence theory makes it difficult to define truth external of human beings. The theory makes truth reliant or dependent on humans rather than depending on the external world.

Coherence Theory

This theory defines truth in terms of its logical consistency. An idea or a proposition can only be considered true if it is consistent of coherent with other beliefs that one already has in their mind. As such, the truth is defined on the basis of coherence between all the statements that together form ones belief system. For example, a cosmological theory about black holes can be difficult to ascertain based on other theories of truth because it is very difficult to travel to the black holes to determine their nature. However, these theories can only be considered true if the theories about the black holes are consistent and coherent wit other theories and beliefs that we already have about cosmology. For most idealists, the theory of coherence is seen as the main or the general definition of truth. This is because it is difficult to understand the universe with certainty. However, one can understand the universe by checking whether the statements about the universe are consistent or coherent with the beliefs of what is already known about the universe.

However, this theory also has its own defects in defining the truth. For instance, it is based on the assumption that humans can only remain trapped in their own beliefs and that they cannot determine the truth beyond what they already know.

Besides these two major theories of truth, there are many other conceptions of truth, which aid philosophers in determining the truth. For instance, there is the constructivist theory and the consensus theory of truth. According to Consensus theory, the truth is considered as only that which has been agreed upon to be true by specific groups of people. On the other hand, constructivist theory identifies the truth as that which is constructed by social processes and is culturally and historically specific to a particular community.

Basic Outline of At Least Two Positions Taken On the Problem

There are many positions that philosopher have when it comes to addressing problematic issues in the concept of the truth. The two main positions that have characterized philosophical debates recently are whether truth is subjective or objective.


This refers to the personal nature of truth, that is, how each person perceives the truth to be. As such, there is no method or process required for one to express their truth.


This refers to the truth established through a process or method that allows people to share their knowledge and related truth. In this context, true statements can be validated or confirmed by relating the statements to the criteria agreed upon for determining the truth.

Personal Reflections and Insights on the Problem

Truth is a very important concept in our daily lives. True statements are informative and help to reaffirm our personal beliefs as well as enabling humans to explore new knowledge and understand the universe better. However, the nature of truth itself can be problematic in terms of trying to understand how we come to identify truth and how we know what constitute the truth. Metaphysics, a branch of philosophy dealing with reality, can be a good place to understand the truth. However, some of the metaphysical concepts of truth are still contentious today as they were in the ancient times. Also, the theories proposed for truth are very varied and the lack of consensus among philosophers as to what constitutes truth only makes it difficult for the lay people to understand the truth itself.

I personally consider truth to be related to ones character and personality. Character is what drives people to seek or tell the truth. One can determine their own personality through a reflective process of character assessment. Character assessment is a very critical aspect of personal reflections. When one reflects upon their lives, there is a high probability that they would be able to understand their strengths and weakness and device appropriate strategies for coping better with life. Personality traits are developed and well understood from character assessment. This scales up thinking for oneself and self-realization. Definition of oneself is derived from thorough scrutiny of an individual, self-contemplation and assessment which forms fundamental part of ones unique psychological adaptation to the environment. For instance, from character assessment, it is possible to brand an individual as either a believer in subjective or subjective truth. The major theoretical models and perspectives in philosophy can be used in analyzing and understanding different views on the truth as well as providing frameworks within which one can develop and enhance their understanding of truth.

From a personal perspective, I consider truth to be subjective. This is the best alternative for understanding the differences in opinion as to what the nature of truth is. This is because subjectivity implies that each person has their own perceptions of what constitutes the truth. In some cases, several people may have similar or the same subjective truths, while in other cases, each person may have his or her own ways of determining the truth. Subjectivity is very important in understanding truth because, by accepting that each person has the capability of constructing their own truths, this can go a long way in resolving some of the disagreements. This is because we shall be able to appreciate the views from each person as being their own perceptions of the truth.

However, in as much as subjectivity stands out as the best alternative for resolving the problem of truth, it has its own issues that make it quite difficult to be the acceptable criteria for truth. For instance, it can be difficult to ascertain the truth in situations where two or more people have different perceptions of the facts or statements in question. Secondly, subjectivity makes it difficult for there to be generally accepted truths or facts since it creates room for deviations based on individual perceptions.

Nevertheless, the concept of truth has a lot of influence on human lives. People have a strong desire for finding out the truth in order to understand the reality around them. This is important in making critical decisions in ones life. Generally, truth has wide implications in the society including legal...

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