Identity theory of truth

Named by STEWART CANDLISH (in Mind, 1989) and recently attributed to the idealist philosopher Francis Herbert Bradley (1846-1924).

It is also seen as having strong affinities with the views of George Edward Moore (1873-1958) and Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) at one period in the development of their respective philosophies, and possibly with that of Gottlob Frege (1848-1925).

The theory says that the truth of a judgment consists in the identity of its content with a fact.

Source:
J Dodd and J Hornsby, ‘The Identity Theory of Truth: Reply to Baldwin’, Mind (1992)

The identity theory of truth was influential in the formative years of modern analytic philosophy, and has come to prominence again recently. Broadly speaking, it sees itself as a reaction against correspondence theories of truth, which maintain that truth-bearers are made true by facts. The identity theory maintains, against this, that at least some truth-bearers are not made true by, but are identical with, facts. The theory is normally applied not at the level of declarative sentences, but to what such sentences express. It is these items—or, again, some of them—that are held to be identical with facts. Identity theorists diverge over the details of this general picture, depending on what exactly they take declarative sentences to express, whether Fregean thoughts (at the level of sense), Russellian propositions (at the level of reference), or both, and depending also on how exactly facts are construed. But, to give a precise illustration, an identity theorist who thinks that declarative sentences express Russellian propositions will typically hold that true such propositions are identical with facts. The significance of the identity theory, for its supporters, is that it appears to make available the closing of a certain gap that might otherwise be thought to open up between language and world and/or between mind and world. If its supporters are right about this, the identity theory of truth potentially has profound consequences both in metaphysics and in the philosophies of mind and language.

Truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality.[1] In everyday language, truth is typically ascribed to things that aim to represent reality or otherwise correspond to it, such as beliefs, propositions, and declarative sentences.[2]

Truth is usually held to be the opposite of falsehood. The concept of truth is discussed and debated in various contexts, including philosophy, art, theology, and science. Most human activities depend upon the concept, where its nature as a concept is assumed rather than being a subject of discussion; these include most of the sciences, law, journalism, and everyday life. Some philosophers view the concept of truth as basic, and unable to be explained in any terms that are more easily understood than the concept of truth itself.[2] Most commonly, truth is viewed as the correspondence of language or thought to a mind-independent world. This is called the correspondence theory of truth.

Various theories and views of truth continue to be debated among scholars, philosophers, and theologians.[2][3] There are many different questions about the nature of truth which are still the subject of contemporary debates, such as: How do we define truth? Is it even possible to give an informative definition of truth? What things are truthbearers and are therefore capable of being true or false? Are truth and falsehood bivalent, or are there other truth values? What are the criteria of truth that allow us to identify it and to distinguish it from falsehood? What role does truth play in constituting knowledge? And is truth always absolute, or can it be relative to one’s perspective?

2 thoughts on “Identity theory of truth

  1. zortilonrel says:

    Hey just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few of the images aren’t loading correctly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different internet browsers and both show the same results.

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