An Identity Theory of Truth. By Julian Dodd
Article first published online: 7 APR 2009
© The author 2009. Journal compilation © Trustees for Roman Catholic Purposes Registered 2009
The Heythrop Journal
Volume 50, Issue 3, pages 525–526, May 2009
How to Cite
McCall, B. (2009), An Identity Theory of Truth. By Julian Dodd. The Heythrop Journal, 50: 525–526. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2265.2009.00484_14.x
- Issue published online: 7 APR 2009
- Article first published online: 7 APR 2009
Pp. xi, 200 , New York , Palgrave Macmillan , 2008 , $29.95.
‘What is truth?’ Pilate asked Jesus. Some questions never get answered, it seems. Julian Dodd, who lectures in philosophy at the University of Manchester, UK, addresses this question in the title under review. His previous publications include Musical Works: An Essay in Ontology and, with Helen Beebee, Truthmakers: The Contemporary Debate.
Correspondence theories of truth, aptly titled, argue that the relation between thought and fact is correspondence, and that facts act as truth makers. Dodd, in countering this assertion, stipulates that the relation between thought and fact is one of identity. The first part of this book exposes the doctrine held by correspondence theorists, and seeks to demonstrate how it is inadequate, if not incoherent. Chapter one claims that correspondence theories are based on a truth-making principle that lacks motivation. Dodd sets forth his argument regarding an ontology of thoughts in chapter two, noting that propositions indeed exist, which chapter three then builds on by noting that the nature of propositions is that they are composed of thoughts, not states of affairs, and the former are in turn ultimately derived from the senses (p. 50).
Chapter four argues that facts are thoughts, because when a thought is true, it is a fact. As a result, the two things that correspondence theorists claim correspond to one another are in fact identical (p. 109). In chapter five he argues that facts are not complexes of worldly entities that make thoughts true, but are merely true thoughts. Thus the supposed truth-maker is revealed as a truth-bearer (p. 111). In the sixth chapter he argues that the resulting modest identity theory, distinguished from a robust theory only with respect to its conception of facts, allows for a defensible deflation of the concept of truth. The final chapter distinguishes the modest identity theory from its competitors, and argues that the modest version avoids problems that burden other identity theories.
While conceding that his modest identity theory of truth provides neither a definition of truth per se nor an account of what truth consists in, Dodd does claim that it diagnoses the Achilles' heel of correspondence theories. This book, though short, is not to be taken lightly; it provides dense reading. However, for the graduate student who perseveres, it will be rewarding, if not in producing a convert, nonetheless in sharpening one's take on correspondence theories of truth. I recommend it especially for students with interests in Wittgenstein, Salmon, and Austin.