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pragmatist comments on The Useful Idea of Truth - Less Wrong

77 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 02 October 2012 06:16PM

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Comment author: pragmatist 03 October 2012 12:18:38AM 2 points [-]

Michael Lynch has a functionalist theory of truth (described in this book) that responds to concerns like yours. His claim is that there is a "truth role" that is constant across all domains of discourse where we talk about truth and falsity of propositions. The truth role is characterized by three properties:

  1. Objectivity: The belief that p is true if and only if with respect to the belief that p, things are as they are believed to be.

  2. Norm of belief: It is prima facie correct to believe that p if and only if the proposition that p is true.

  3. End of inquiry: Other things being equal, true beliefs are a worthy goal of inquiry.

Lynch claims that, in different domains of discourse, there are different properties that play this truth role. For instance, when we're doing science it's plausible that the appropriate realizer of the truth role is some kind of correspondence notion. On the other hand, when we're doing mathematics, one might think that the truth role is played by some sort of theoretical coherence property. Mathematical truths, according to Lynch, satisfy the truth role, but not by virtue of correspondence to some state of affairs in our external environment. He has a similar analysis of moral truths.

I'm not sure whether Lynch's particular description of the truth role is right, but the functionalist approach (truth is a functional property, and the function can be performed by many different realizers) is very attractive to me.

Comment author: Peterdjones 16 November 2012 08:27:41AM 0 points [-]

Me too, thanks for this.