Bertrand Russell's correspondence theory of truth
Pauley, Edward Haven
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This thesis examines the relation of various areas of Bertrand Russell's epistemology to his theory of truth. It has been held that the correspondence theory of truth is the key to Russell's epistemological realism. Russell himself defines knowledge in terms of truth, and not truth in terms of knowledge. After an introductory chapter, Russell's Theory of Mind is e xamined in Chapter One. Chapter Two deals with his Theory of Matter. Chapter Three treats his Theory of Language. The fourth and concluding chapter compares Russell's correspondence theory of truth with two alternative theories of truth: the coher ence theory of truth and the pragmatic theory of truth; and summarizes the three basic meanings of correspondence in Russell's theory of truth. Since Russell defines truth as some sort of correspondence between belief and facts, and derivatively in terms of the sentences expressing beliefs, it was felt that a tracing of the development of Russell's Theories of Mind (belief), Matter (facts), and Language (sentences) would best illuminate a study of his theory of truth. Russell's Theory of Mind runs the gamut from a mindmatter dualism, to a neutral monism, to a view of mind as "perspective." The progress of his Theory of Mind involves a move in the theory of belief from an "act" of belief, to a "propositional attitude," to a "feeling." In no case is truth predicated of the subjective factor in belief, but rather of "judgment," "propositions," or "content" of belief, except in the case where what a sentence indicates is a state of mind of the believer. Russell's Theory of Matter has changed in a fashion paralleling his Theory of Mind. Thus, he begins by inferring physical objects from sense-data, and he constructs physical objects from the class of all their appearances, and finally he says that we may infer the structure of physical events on the basis of non-demonstrable principles of inference. The world of facts is in every period considered to be a pluralistic world, and hence relations among facts are external relations. Russell's Theory of Language underwent a similar evolution. In the beginning of his thought on an ideal language, as suggested in Principia, he followed Wittgenstein in holding that logic has an atomic structure which mirrors a world of atomic facts. Later, Russell comes to feel that the "picture" theory of language is inadequate. Finally, he holds that language mirrors the world in that both words and objects are universals. In conclusion, a comparison was made between alternative theories of truth, and the correspondence theory of truth was summarized. The writer of this thesis holds that Russell's correspondence theory of truth is to be preferred over the alternatives presented.
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