Correspondence theories claim that true beliefs and true statements correspond to the actual state of affairs. This type of theory attempts to posit a relationship between thoughts or statements on the one hand, and things or facts on the other. It is a traditional model which goes back at least to some of the classical Greek philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. This class of theories holds that the truth or the falsity of a representation is determined solely by how it relates to a reality; that is, by whether it accurately describes that reality.
Bertrand Russell theorized that a statement, to be true, must have a structural isomorphism with the state of affairs in the world that makes it true. For example, "The cat is on the mat" is true if, and only if, there is in the world a cat and a mat and the cat is related to the mat by virtue of being on it. If any of the three pieces (the cat, the mat, and the relation between them which correspond respectively to the subject, object, and verb of the statement) is missing, the statement is false. See Kirkham, 1992, section 4.2.
J. L. Austin theorized that there does not need to be any structural parallelism between a true statement and the state of affairs that makes it true. It is only necessary that the semantics of the language in which the statement is expressed are such as to correlate whole-for-whole the statement with the state of affairs. A false statement, for Austin, is one that is correlated by the language to a state of affairs that does not exist. See Kirkham, 1992, section 4.3.
Historically, most advocates of correspondence theories have been ontological realists; that is, they believe that there is a world external to the minds of all humans, gods, and other real or alleged thinking beings. This is in contrast to metaphysical idealists who hold that everything that exists is, in the end, just an idea in some mind. However, it is not strictly necessary that a correspondence theory be married to ontological realism. It is possible to hold, for example, that the facts of the world determine which statements are true and to also hold that the world (and its facts) is but a collection of ideas in the mind of some supreme being. For more information about correspondence theories that are not linked to ontological realism, see Kirkham, 1992, section 4.6.
Jenks, Rod. The Contribution of Socratic Method and Plato's Theory of Truth to Plato Scholarship.(Book Review)
Mar 01, 2003; Lewiston: Edward Mellen Press, 2001. xviii + 164 pp. Cloth, n. pIn the first chapter of The Contribution of Socratic Method and...