Is the Correspondent Theory of Truth currently the most important way of thinking about the nature of truth?

What alternatives are important?

Is there a version of the Correspondent Theory of Truth which avoids Idealism? (Idealism seems to pop up the moment one speculates about the nature of the correspondent relationship)

EDIT: Why did I say what I said about idealism? Well, it seemed intuitive to me that the nature of the correspondence relationship is unclear and unjustified, so that one falls within idealism when trying to clarify what is exactly a correspondence between a statement and the real world. I am not claiming anything at all here, just expresing my (apparently flawed) intuition.

  • 4
    Did you see the SEP article? plato.stanford.edu/entries/truth/#PraThe Correspondence and deflationism are the most popular, with 51% and 25% support according to a poll of philosophers philpapers.org/surveys/results.pl
    – Conifold
    Oct 4, 2015 at 22:04
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    Also can you expand on why you think correspondence entails idealism? (I'm not saying arguments can't be raised just that the argument is not so intuitive to be left out) The coherence theory of truth attributed to Hegel seems more apt to do so since then truth is the coherence of our thoughts about objects.
    – virmaior
    Oct 5, 2015 at 0:22
  • afaik most realists subscribe to correspondence, and it's (even) part of their argument sometimes
    – user6917
    Oct 5, 2015 at 11:32

1 Answer 1


First, correspondence theories of truth are generally associated with realism, not idealism. The point of a correspondence theory is that there is a correspondence between mental or linguistic representations and reality. Linguistic content is not necessarily mental (not for externalists) and in any case, having a correspondence implies that there is something that is not mental/linguistic to which mental/linguistic entities correspond. Realism is the position that assumes just that, and idealism denies it. Idealism is generally associated with coherence conceptions (if everything is mental then no correspondence is needed, only coherence between different ideas in a conceptual scheme).

It seems to me that correspondence theories are dominant today.

Coherence theories of truth seem to imply that truth is relative to a coherent conceptual scheme, and that in a sense, contradictory schemes are all equally true by their own standards. The constraints on truth are not strong enough: truth is not objective.

An alternative family of theories are pragmatic theories which claim that truth has to do with ideal utility, assertability, verifiability, ... These theories tie truth to our epistemic situation.

A first difficulty of these conceptions is to define an epistemic agent in a non anthropocentric way: who do we include in our epistemic community?

A second difficulty has to do with "ideal". Bare utility (or assertability) will not do because there are beliefs that are temporarily useful (or justified, or...) but not true. True beliefs should be useful in the long run, ideally that is, but the criteria of "ideal" utility are not easy to define. what do we mean by that?

A third difficulty is that these conceptions do not respect bivalence (a proposition is either true or false) since it is easy to formulate a proposition such that neither it or its negation is ideally useful (or justified...), for example the proposition that there exists a huge golden mountain that disappears whenever someone looks at it (or attempts to observe its effects). The proposition is not obviously meaningless: we understand what it says. A fundamental indeterminacy ensues. However bivalence is a fundamental aspect of classical logic.

Correspondence truth eschews these difficulties. It seems to capture more adequately the intuition that truth transcends our epistemic position and capacities, and concerns something independent from us.

  • Thanks for your answer, quen_tin. I don't quite understand how to solve the problem pointed out in my last edit: What is the relationship of correspondence between world and language? We cannot specify it. Is not linguistic or merelly material. How to get rid of the feeling of platonism when talking about the correspondence theory of truth? (Maybe I should ask a different question for this?)
    – DSP
    Oct 6, 2015 at 16:43
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    I think it's a known problem with correspondance theories that this notion of correspondance is unclear. Structuralists sometimes invoke some mathematical relation. Oct 6, 2015 at 20:36
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    Idealism generally does not deny that mental/linguistic entities correspond to something external. Plato embraces it whole heartedly, along with the correspondence theory. Did you mean subjective idealism? The opposite of realism would be nominalism, rather than idealism.
    – Conifold
    Oct 6, 2015 at 21:00
  • @Conifold. I meant subjective idealism, which to me is opposite to physicalism, and a version of antirealism. Oct 6, 2015 at 21:16

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