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Truth, pragmatic theory of

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-N061-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved October 23, 2020, from

Article Summary

Two distinctly different kinds of theories parade under the banner of the ‘pragmatic theory of truth’. First, there is the consensus theory of C.S. Peirce, according to which a true proposition is one which would be endorsed unanimously by all persons who had had sufficient relevant experiences to judge it. Second, there is the instrumentalist theory associated with William James, John Dewey, and F.C.S. Schiller, according to which a proposition counts as true if and only if behaviour based on a belief in the proposition leads, in the long run and all things considered, to beneficial results for the believers. (Peirce renamed his theory ‘pragmaticism’ when his original term ‘pragmatism’ was appropriated by the instrumentalists.) Unless they are married to some form of ontological anti-realism, which they usually are, both theories imply that the facts of the matter are not relevant to the truth-value of the proposition.

Citing this article:
Kirkham, Richard L.. Truth, pragmatic theory of, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-N061-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2020 Routledge.

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