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Davidson A Coherence Theory Of Truth And Knowledge Pdf

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Although its use is not universal, there is a map of the logical space of theories of truth that is widely applied. According to this map, the most foundational divide amongst theories of truth is that between deflationary and inflationary theories, where, roughly, the former hold that truth is an insubstantial, logical property of little philosophical interest and the latter that it is a substantial property suitable for philosophical attention. Amongst the inflationary theories, there are other fundamental divisions.

The coherence theory holds that truth consists in coherence amongst our beliefs. It can thus rule out radical scepticism and avoid the problems of the correspondence theory. Considerations about meaning and verification have also pointed philosophers in the same direction. But if it holds all truth to consist in coherence it is untenable: there must be some truths that do not, truths about what people believe. This causes problems for traditional coherence theories, and also for verificationists and anti-realists.

Davidson, Donald. "A Coherence Theory of Truth and Knowledge:" draft

The coherence theory holds that truth consists in coherence amongst our beliefs. It can thus rule out radical scepticism and avoid the problems of the correspondence theory. Considerations about meaning and verification have also pointed philosophers in the same direction.

But if it holds all truth to consist in coherence it is untenable: there must be some truths that do not, truths about what people believe. This causes problems for traditional coherence theories, and also for verificationists and anti-realists. The admission of a grounding class of truths that do not consist in coherence also raises the question why there should be such systematic agreement between these. This cannot properly be explained by anything that is said within the theory whose truth is constituted by coherence with the grounding class.

Keywords: truth , coherence , verificationism , anti-realism , Dummett , Kant. A coherence theory of truth is a theory that holds truth to consist in coherence. To understand the nature of truth is to understand that it is coherence, or a certain kind of coherence, very much in the way that to understand the nature of water is to know that it is H 2 O. The only difference is that the identity of water with H 2 O was discovered scientifically, whereas in this case the identity must be established by philosophical means.

The coherence theory has often been felt to be counterintuitive, and has sometimes been briskly dismissed for that reason.

Yet it keeps reappearing in new and challenging forms. Part of the reason for this is that the alternative theories have their difficulties too, but there are also powerful philosophical pressures that have pushed philosophers of very different backgrounds to adopt a coherence theory of truth.

The nineteenth-century idealists found themselves driven that way; a little later the verificationists found themselves under very similar pressures, and Neurath in particular recognized that these pressures must inevitably lead them to a form of coherence theory.

More recently these same pressures, in slightly different forms, have led Putnam and Davidson explicitly to adopt coherence theories of truth, and have caused anti-realists like Michael Dummett to adopt what amounts to a coherence theory in all but name.

These pressures derive from two closely related thoughts, one epistemological and the other semantic. The first is the thought that there is something quite unsatisfactory, even absurd, about the skepticism that suggests our most carefully adjusted beliefs about the world could actually be false.

The second supports this by considerations about meaning: the meaning of our words must be tied to experience in a way that precludes us from any such radical error. Coherence theorists have always found difficulty with the correspondence theory of truth, which they see as their real rival. What they p. The correspondence theory goes beyond the truisms by its account of what correspondence is, and of what is supposed to correspond with what.

The coherence theory likewise seeks to give an account of coherence, and of the items that are supposed to exhibit this coherence. Both theories share the assumption that truth has a nature, and that problems about truth have a metaphysical character: they concern the relationship between what we say or think and the reality that we are seeking to describe. Being a theory of the nature of truth, the coherence theory must be sharply distinguished from the theory that coherence is often, or always, a guide to the truth.

Clearly we often rely on coherence as a guide to the truth, but that commits us to no particular view of what truth is; only to the belief, or the hope, that coherence and truth are linked in some fairly reliable way. There is no single coherence theory of truth, just as there is no single correspondence theory.

Different accounts of correspondence have been put forward; so have different accounts of coherence, though the different accounts do have a certain amount in common. Coherence requires consistency, and accordance with the laws of logic—though there is certainly some disagreement as to what the laws of logic are, the law of excluded middle being particularly open to question.

But further principles of coherence are needed. Most would find them in the fundamental principles that govern our everyday and scientific thinking; there is rather more room for dispute as to just what these are.

They articulate what truth is, and they are themselves constitutive of truth. Truth is thus determined by these standards, which are the standards of rationality; the standards which govern our thought, insofar as we can claim to be rational. This is where the contrast with the correspondence theory lies. For the correspondence theory, truth consists in correspondence with a reality that exists independently of our thought about it.

They have sometimes said that truth consists in the maximally coherent system of propositions. This however will not do, at least if propositions are supposed to be abstract entities and not things that are actually believed or asserted by anyone.

As Russell pointed out, the false proposition that Bishop Stubbs was hanged belongs to as large a coherent set of propositions as the true proposition that Bishop Stubbs died in bed. Joachim whom Russell was attacking conceived of the truth not as a maximally coherent system of abstract propositions, but as something like a maximally coherent system of judgments—by which he meant, judgments that people were prepared to make.

The idea needed is just that of what people accept to be the case, where roughly at least someone who accepts something is prepared sincerely to assert it, or to assent to it sincerely when it is asserted. Coherence theories of truth need to be distinguished from coherence theories of reality. Coherence theories of reality are not theories about the nature of truth; they are metaphysical theories to the effect that reality itself meets certain standards of coherence.

Sometimes they are theologically grounded, the creator being thought to have devised a rationally coherent universe; but they need not be. The metaphysical claim is just that the standards of rational coherence reveal to us reality as it is, because it is in the nature of reality to exhibit just this coherence. Coherence theories of truth and coherence theories of reality can look very similar: indeed they are often confused.

Spinoza, I believe, held a coherence theory of truth, but others think he only held a coherence theory of reality. Bradley held a coherence theory of reality, not despite what is often said a coherence theory of truth: he thought that reality itself, quite independently of us and of our ways of thinking about it, meets standards of coherence that render it comprehensible to us.

A coherence theory of truth leaves no room for the question to arise. Truth just is coherence—a coherence that we can recognize because our own standards determine it. Hence if we have a coherent system there is no further question whether p.

For the coherence theory of reality, certainly, if we have a coherent theory we can be assured it is true, but that is because we are confident that reality is coherent. There is still room for the question whether reality really is coherent, or coherent by the standards we are using.

Thus the coherence theory of truth dissolves an epistemological problem, which the coherence theory of reality leaves in place. He tries to resolve it by proving the existence of a God who is no deceiver. It seemed unsatisfactory to Kant. Kant took the problem very seriously, but his ultimate reaction was to dissolve it, by saying that truth, truth as we ordinarily conceive it, just is that system of beliefs that meets with a certain standard of coherence that is determined by the way our minds operate.

It has to be, because the world as we can know it must be reality as conditioned by human cognitive powers; the conceptual ordering of our thought, and the ordering of our experience within a spatio-temporal framework, are features of ourselves , rooted in the nature of our capacities. They cannot be assessed as correct or incorrect beyond saying that they are inevitable for us.

And there is no other way that we could know the world, for we can know the world only in the ways that our cognitive capacities provide. Hence the world as we can know it, the everyday world of people and galaxies and bacteria, just is the world so ordered and conceptualized.

This removes the problem of how to justify supposing that the ways in which we think and register our experiences really do match reality.

This amounts to a coherence theory of truth. But it is not a coherence theory of truth in a quite unqualified form. Sensation is not constituted by coherence. This need not bother us, in his view, because truth in the only sense in which it makes sense to worry about it is just what the coherent operation of our principles yields.

Because truth consists in coherence, reality—the only reality there is or could be—is just what a thoroughly coherent system of beliefs would describe. The idea of things in themselves must then be incoherent; to admit them would be to indulge in empty play with words. Kant had held that we can think intelligibly about things as they are in themselves, but the idealists rejected this. It is with the nineteenth-century idealists, and with their spiritual forebear Spinoza, that it is often hardest to draw the line sharply between a coherence theory of truth and a coherence theory of reality.

This is because for many of them, including Spinoza, the rational coherent system that constitutes the truth is not as it was for Kant the product of our minds, in the sense that its principles are determined by our capacities and our ways of thinking.

Instead it is the product of the mind of God or Spirit, or the Absolute , who is far more rational than we are. If we left it at that, we should not really have a coherence theory of truth, any more than we have a coherence theory of truth if we hold that a rational God has designed the universe in a rationally intelligible way.

Descartes held a coherence theory of reality, or something close to it: he thought the world was intelligibly constructed by a wholly rational God. He also thought that rational insight gave us the basic principles of geometry and mechanics, and thus a fundamental description of the physical world.

It was insight about a reality altogether independent of us. For Spinoza, however, and for many of the later idealists, there is no need for an assurance that God is no deceiver. Yet Spinoza is not unequivocal about this. That is partly because he had not thought his position fully through, but partly also because of a problem which remained serious for the later idealists, and which led Joachim reluctantly to conclude that, after all, no coherence theory of truth can ever be quite satisfactory.

But that is really an affirmation of a coherence theory of reality. Joachim did want to hold a coherence theory of truth, though worried by his own objection. In fact his objection does not really refute the coherence theory of truth. What it shows is that a coherence theory of reality that leaves reality independent of our thought gives us no reason to suppose we can find truth by relying on our own standards of coherence.

The standards of rational coherence that we find compelling in ordering our thoughts may be very imperfectly aligned with the standards of rational coherence that are reflected in the universe, or in the mind of God. Since the coherence theory of truth holds that it is the principles of our thinking that determine the truth, it is not surprising to find it associated with philosophers who describe themselves as idealists. But it has also attracted others who would have found that label uncongenial.

To reject the coherence theory of truth is to hold that in talking about the world we are making claims about a reality that is wholly independent of what we think or say about it. This seemed unsatisfactory to the idealists, primarily on epistemological grounds: it leaves room for a kind of skepticism that seems absurd, the kind that suggests we could be wrong about everything.

Others go further, and base their rejection of such skepticism on semantic considerations. In their view, to think there is room for it is to ignore the preconditions for language use. Words can only acquire meaning through being used in publicly observable circumstances, and these publicly observable circumstances must provide them with their meaning. They cannot acquire meanings that could not be learned and manifested in this way, so they cannot it would seem p.

The idea of a reality wholly independent of what we can find out about does not make sense. He questioned how we could ever use our language to refer to something in that independent reality. Putnam and Davidson—and sometimes Quine as well—share with Joachim and with many others the idea that all truth consists in coherence.

This at least cannot be right. A coherence theory of truth which is intended to apply globally—i. A coherence theory of truth that extends to all truths cannot be sustained, because there must be some truths that determine the character of the coherent theory itself, and their truth therefore cannot be determined by it. There must therefore be truths about what it is that people accept, and these truths about acceptances cannot consist in coherence.

What we need is not what the system itself declares to be beliefs, acceptances, or rules, but actual beliefs, actual acceptances, rules that are actually treated as in force.

donald-davidson-a-coherence-theory-of-truth-and-knowledge-1989.pdf

Sign in Create an account. Syntax Advanced Search. A coherence theory of truth and knowledge. Donald Davidson. In Ernest LePore ed.

In this essay I defend what may as well be called a coherence theory of truth and knowledge. The theory I defend is not in competition with a correspondence theory, but depends for its defense on an argument that purports to show that coherence yields correspondence. The importance of the theme is obvious. If coherence is a test of truth, there is a direct connection with epistemology, for we have reason to believe many of our beliefs cohere with many others, and in that case we have reason to believe many of our beliefs are true. When the beliefs are true, then the primary conditions for knowledge would seem to be satisfied. Someone might try to defend a coherence theory of truth without defending a coherence theory of knowledge, perhaps on the ground that the holder of a coherent set of beliefs might lack a reason to believe his beliefs coherent.


Coherence, then, is supposed to be a test for both truth and the judgement that objective truth‐conditions are justified, yielding what Davidson calls a 'non‐.


Davidson, Donald. "A Coherence Theory of Truth and Knowledge:" draft

The coherence theory holds that truth consists in coherence amongst our beliefs. It can thus rule out radical scepticism and avoid the problems of the correspondence theory. Considerations about meaning and verification have also pointed philosophers in the same direction. But if it holds all truth to consist in coherence it is untenable: there must be some truths that do not, truths about what people believe. This causes problems for traditional coherence theories, and also for verificationists and anti-realists.

In this essay I defend what may as well be called a coherence theory of truth and knowledge. The theory I defend is not in competition with a correspondence theory, but depends for its defense on an argument that purports to show that coherence yields correspondence. The importance of the theme is obvious.

A Coherence Theory of Truth and Knowledge

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Donald Davidson In this paper I defend what may as well be called a But if coherence is a test of m t h , then coherence coherence theory of truth and knowledge. The is a t a t for judging that objective truth conditions theory I defend is not in competition with a torre- are satisfied, and we no longer need to explain spondence theory, but depends for its defense on meaning on the bitsis of possible confrontation. Given a correct epistemology, we can be The importance oF the theme i s obvious. If realists in all departments. We can accept objective coherence is a test of truth, there is a direct con- truth conditions as the ligy to meaning, a realist n d o n with epistemology, for we have reason to view of uurh, and we can insist that knowledge is believe many of our hcliefs cohere with many of an objective world independent of our thought others, and in that case we have reason to believe or language.

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The Coherence Theory of Truth

Как ты не понимаешь, что я ко всему этому непричастен. Развяжи. Развяжи, пока не явились агенты безопасности.

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 - Все смогут скачать, но никто не сможет воспользоваться. - Совершенно верно. Танкадо размахивает морковкой.

Davidson's

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