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Theories of Truth and Consequences for Quantum Theory

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PIRSA Number: 
10040073

Abstract

One might have hoped that philosophers had sorted out what ‘truth’ is supposed to be by now. After all, Aristotle offered what seems to be a clear and simple characterization in his Metaphysics. So perhaps it is surprising (and then again perhaps it isn’t), that contemporary philosophers have not settled on a consensus regarding the nature of truth to this day. In fact, the most obvious theory of truth, that truth consists in correspondence to the facts, seems to be steadily waning in popularity in technical circles, replaced instead by a perhaps puzzlingly austere minimalist theory that restricts its characterization of truth to the familiar equivalence schema:

is true if and only if p. The differences between such deflationary theories and the ‘traditional’ correspondence theory of truth, and perhaps even more strikingly between these theories and epistemic theories of truth, call to mind counterpart features in different attitudes about the proper interpretation of quantum mechanics. By reviewing the most striking features of different theories of truth, as well as some of their most difficult objections, we can start to see where different interpretations seem to be reliant on (or at least quite congenial to) particular theories of truth and also where these theories begin to reveal themselves as variously helping and hindering the smooth functioning of different interpretations.