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Pragmatic, Coherence and Correspondent Truth Theories Term Paper

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Updated: May 7th, 2020


Nowadays, it is possible to hear that everyone has his/her own truth. People are free to choose religion, traditions, and culture and develop truths that meet their preferences. For a long period, the task has been to comprehend the essence of truth and its importance for people.

Can it happen that truth is a kind of agreement between a belief and a real life fact, or is it possible that a true belief should cohere with other true beliefs, or is it correct to think that truth has to work, be useful to people, and help to achieve the results that make people happy?

This paper aims at discussing three main theories about truth and identifying their strongest and weakest aspects: pragmatists, coherentism representatives, and the supporters of the correspondence theory offered their powerful ideas to explain the meaning of truth; however, they could not even guess that modern people are ready to combine their thoughts and introduce their individual definitions.

1st Side

The correspondence theory of truth is rooted in the ideas offered by Aristotle and then developed by Aquinas. Other supporters of this theory were Descartes and Spinoza, Lock and Kant. All these philosophers believed that it is necessary to accept a belief as a true in case it corresponds to the real world. In other words, the representatives of the correspondence theory explain truth as “an agreement or correspondence between a proposition and some fact in the real world” (Velasquez 403).

Bertrand Russell was a prominent philosopher of the 20th century, who believed that there were a number of facts that could not depend on people. Besides, he mentioned that the truth of a particular belief could be defined by the nature of this belief. It is more important to consider some other outside factors that can influence the chosen belief. That is why truth should be regarded as “a relationship between a belief and things in the world outside the belief” (Velasquez 404).

In case a belief faces some misunderstandings or contradictions with reality, it is wrong to believe in the truthfulness of such belief. It should be defined as false. That is why the concepts of truth and false cannot go apart. They are the two parts of one whole.

Alfred Tarski was another philosopher and thinker, who made considerable contributions to the development of the correspondent theory. He introduced truth as a property of sentences. It means that “true is when things are as it says things are (Velasquez 408).

His ideas can be similar to those, offered by Aristotle many years ago. What he added was the necessity to identify English as the main language in which the meaning of truth can be accepted. In brief, this theory focuses on the possibility of correspondence between reality and a belief that can be proved by means of observations and physical determination.

2nd Side

A pragmatic theory of truth is another point of view that has been developed by such philosopher as William James in the middle of the 19th century. The essence of this theory lies in the fact that a belief can be defined as true only “if it works and is useful” to people (Velasquez 413). Pragmatists try to underline that there is no absolute truth. Events have a tendency to be changed from time to time in regards to people’s needs, interests, and expectations.

That is why truth cannot correspond with reality. It is more important to pay attention to the level of its worth and usefulness. Pragmatists want to provide people with enough powers and abilities so that they can “define truth only in relation to consequences” (Velasquez 414).

James’ main idea is that truth can be defined by the quality of practical difference it can make. If the correspondence theory is based on the fact that beliefs and reality should be compared, the pragmatic theory states that truth is something that can lead to harmony, progress, and personal satisfaction. It is characterized by the outcomes people can observe. In other words, if the “correspondence” depends on a number of external factors, the “pragmatic” truth deals with personal beliefs only.

The pragmatists touch upon the psychological aspect of the concept. It is necessary to consider human opinions to understand if a belief is true or false. It means that truth can be based on human experience and satisfaction with the actions chosen. The truth is something that has to be approved by society on the one hand and by an individual on the other hand. That is why it is very important for society and a person to find common solutions and the same attitudes to the things that are around.

3rd Side

The coherence theory that was developed by Brand Blanshard in the 20th century is one more theory that contradicts the ideas of pragmatists and deviates (does not oppose) from the correspondence theory. Its representatives explained truth as the coherence of one belief with other beliefs that can be identified as true.

At the beginning of the 20th century, this theory was a new thought that attracted the attention of many people because they wanted to find out the golden middle between the pragmatists and the representatives of the correspondence theory.

Critical Thinking

Three above-mentioned theories have their own strong and weak sides. For example, the pragmatic theory underlines the importance of personal satisfaction in regards to beliefs that are defined as true. However, the necessity to consider the outcomes of beliefs can make people think that truth is an event that has a tendency to change with time. One society may justify truth, and another society cannot accept the same thing as truth.

There is no particular standard according to which it is possible to justify truth. It is very hard to prove the correctness of truth using only pragmatic points of view. The correspondence theory faces the same challenges: if people are able to match beliefs and reality properly. Such concepts as a fact, statement, belief, and proposition are confused. It is difficult to comprehend the core of correspondence.

Finally, the representatives of the coherence theory are challenged by the necessity to explain what kind of knowledge is necessary to compare one belief with other beliefs. Besides, it is never possible to explain the appearance of the first truth because there were no premises to rely on.

All these challenges and misunderstandings can be used to refuse one theory and support another. Still, it is hard to prove that there is one theory that does not have any weaknesses and that can be used as the basis for the identification of truth.

Personal Opinion

In my opinion, truth is one of the trickiest concepts in the world. There are many questions about truth and its importance. Sometimes, I cannot understand why so many people want to find out the truth. Do they really need truth or they think that it can be inappropriate to neglect truth in society? On the one hand, it means that I am a pragmatist by my nature.

However, at the same time, I believe that experience can define the quality of truth. It means that I support the ideas of the coherence theory. Still, I should also mention the importance of connection between personal beliefs and reality. It makes me more connected with the representatives of the correspondence theory.

These facts do not make me absent-minded or frivolous. I want to believe that such ability to combine the main issues of different theories is one of my strongest qualities. I believe it is truth because society provides me with such opportunities, because I rely on the experience, and because this fact corresponds with other facts that have been already defined as true.


In general, the evaluation of pragmatic, coherence, and correspondent theories help to realize that truth is not a simple concept with one particular definition. Is it always necessary for people to know truth? Do people want to know the truth?

I think that the desire to find out what truth can mean is probably one of the main goals people try to achieve. A human life can be regarded as the way to understand what truth means even if a person never thinks about this aspect of life. Truth is something people can understand only they make their final breath. The truth is that a human life is too short to spend it on debates and discussions.

Work Cited

Velasquez, Manuel. Philosophy: A Text with Readings. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2013. Print.

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