While trying to evaluate various theories of truth, I have found that most theories are self-serving to one’s personal interpretation of truth, rather than distinct ways of viewing the same concept. Compare these two quotes regarding truth: “Truth is rarely writ in ink. It lives in nature.” (Martin H. Fischer), and “Every truth bends and is reshaped by other forces.” (Leslie Woolf Hedley). Fisher, a psychologist, presents an understanding of truth very compatible with realism. Truth lives independently of us, regardless of our (mostly unsuccessful) attempts to capture or describe it. He would agree with correspondence theories of truth, although here he contends that most human propositions fail to fully capture these truths. But if truth is something that exists independently of humans, what does that say about the “truth” of anything intangible that humans create? Realism states that reality, the state of the world, is consistent for everyone. However, pragmatics counter that one’s reality is not the same as another’s, and therefore two truths can occur simultaneously because they are relative to the conceptual scheme in which they exist. This understanding of truth is what Hedley was getting at. On a spectrum that ranges from “fact” to “opinion”, Hedley’s interpretation of truth would land much closer to “opinion” than Fisher’s. To me, it is unclear whether either truth theory is more valid than another. They are both completely acceptable and sound depending on one’s definition of truth, and each become implausible when applied to the other’s understanding of truth.
I’m wondering what course a debate between a realist and a pragmatist would take if they were to agree on a common conception of truth beforehand, of if that would be possible. As people with less stake in the outcome of the debate are we allowed to have various definitions of truth, and change them to fit our situation as needed? It seems as though it is necessary to consistently follow one truth theory but is it possible to separate out the situations in which the various theories are applicable?