Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Vision's Veritas

Still on the topic of truth - whether jokes can be truly funny, for example - I've been looking at Gerald Vision's Veritas.

It's a defense of the correspondence theory: roughly, that the truth of a proposition is the result of the world being the way the proposition says it is. (Vision is cagey at the beginning about avoiding problematic, difficult to define, concepts like "facts.")

I don't know what it is about the correspondence theory, but I have a hard time accepting it. Maybe it's just not sexy enough: deflationary theories certainly win on that score. Or maybe it's because I'm too much of a pragmatist to be able to accept the correspondence theory, which carries a lot of metaphysical baggage. Or maybe it's that something so obvious (on the face of it) just can't be right.

Vision mentions two platitudes that get his account of truth going: one is that the truth of propositions must vary with the world (if the world changes so does the truth); the second is that truth is "cognition independent" - i.e., that there may be truths that transcend recognition.

Back on the theme of pragmatism, Vision has a handy taxonomy that shows how the different theories of truth are related to each other (11). I have some quibbles with how he places pragmatism, but I was mostly peeved that it shows "Pierce" (not "Peirce") as a pragmatist. I get really tired of seeing that mistake. I don't think it is Vision's mistake (MIT Press is notorious for poor typesetting) but it still galls me. Of course, "Hempel" is also misspelled, even more egregiously: with an epsilon in place of the first "e".

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