Six Theories of Truth

1) The pragmatic Theory of Truth = “Truth is what works”

Truth cannot mean “what works” or “what is practical”, because what is true is not always practical (ex: death) and what is practical is not always true (ex: a ‘successful’ lie)

2) The Empiricist Theory of Truth = “Truth us what we can sense”

Some things we sense are not true (ex: mirages or hypnotic images) and some things that we all know are true are not sensesd (ex: the fact that 13X13 = 169)

3) The Rationalist Theory of Truth = “Truth is what can be clearly and distinctly understood by reason”

You can’t prove that truth is only what can be proved

4) The Coherence Theory of Truth = “Truth is not a relationship of correspondence between an idea and its external object, but the coherence or oneness or harmony among a set of ideas”

This theory presupposes the truth of something like the coherence theory. For it claims it is true, that is, that this theory (coherence) really tells what is, and the other theory (correspondence) does not. Thus it contradicts itself.

5) The Emotivist Theory of Truth = “Truth is what I feel”

Many feeling are false (ex: irrational fears of infatuations) and many truths are not felt emotionally at all (ex: ‘there are four paper clips in the waste-basket’)

6) The Commonsensical Theory of Truth = “Telling it like it is”

Aristotle defined what ordinary people mean by truth as ‘saying of what is that is and of what is not that is not’. Truth means the correspondence of what you know or say to what is.

Source: Kreeft and Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics, 1994


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