- Date: 15th century
- b : a particular similarity
- c : a relation between sets in which each member of one set is associated with one or more members of the other — compare function
The correspondence theory of truth states that the truth or falsity of a statement is determined only by how it relates to the world, and whether it accurately describes (i.e., corresponds with) that world. The theory is opposed to the coherence theory of truth which holds that the truth or falsity of a statement is determined by its relations to other statements rather than its relation to the world.
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. As Aristotle claims in his Metaphysics: "To say that [either] that which is is not or that which is not is, is a falsehood; and to say that that which is is and that which is not is not, is true".
Relation to ontology
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. 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.