A Critical Appraisal of Root Metaphor Theory (1987)

The 1987 doctoral dissertation from _The New School for Social Research_ led to an article Theories of Truth: A Comprehensive Synthesis (1988), for which [Ronald K. Hoeflin received the American Philosophical Association’s Rockefeller Prize](https://www.usiassociation.org/post/usia-vice-president-dr-ronald-hoeflin)

The tracing of theories of truth and development of World Hypotheses by [Ronald K. Hoeflin](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_K._Hoeflin) are a rather complete history of science.

> There are several widely recognized theories of truth in philosophy. Most lists include the correspondence, coherence, and pragmatic theories of truth, and many lists add one or two other theories. For example, under the entry "Truth" in _The Encyclopedia of Philosophy_ one finds no unified treatment of truth but instead one is referred to separate articles on the three theories mentioned above plus P. F. Strawson 1 s so-called performative theory of truth. [1] > * [1] ^"Paul Edwards , ed. , _The Encyclopedia of Philosophy_, 8 vols. (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1967), s.v. "Correspondence Theory of Truth," by A. N. Prior; "Coher­ence Theory of Truth," by Alan R. White; "Pragmatic Theory of Truth," by Gertrude Ezorsky, and "Performative Theory of Truth," by Gertrude Ezorsky. > Similarly, in the chapter titled "Theories of Truth" in her book, _Philosophy of Logics_, Susan Haack discusses the three theories listed above plus Alfred Tarski's semantic theory of truth and Frank P. Ramsey's so-called redundancy theory. [2] > * [2] Susan Haack, _Philosophy of Logics_ (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976), pp. 86-134 > Likewise, in his book, _World Hypotheses_, Stephen C. Pepper discusses the correspondence, coherence, and pragmatic theories plus what he calls the causal-adjustment theory of truth, which he says was inspired by a philosopher named David Prall. [1] [pp 2-3] > * [1] Stephen C. Pepper, _World Hypotheses: A Study in Evidence_ (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1942), pp. 180-184, 221-236, 268-279, and 308-314. > One immediate question that these lists suggest is, Why is there no unified theory of truth? > According to Haack, the leading pragmatists -- Peirce, James, and Dewey--all incorporated the correspondence theory within their pragmatic theories of truth, while James and Dewey took the further step of incorporating the coherence theory as well. [2] [p. 3] > * [2] Haack, Philosophy of Logics, p. 99. > In _Present Philosophical Tendencies_, originally published in 1912, Ralph Barton Perry goes so far as to attribute five sub-theories of truth to the pragmatists. He calls them "verification by perception, consistency, operation, sentiment, and general utility." [3] > * [3] Ralph Barton Perry, _Present Philosophical Tendencies: A Critical Survey of Naturalism, Idealism. Pragmatism and Realism, Together with a Synopsis of the Philosophy of William James_ (New York: George Braziller, 1955), p. 205. > I believe the first four of these correspond to the causal-adjustment, coherence, pragmatic, and correspondence theories, respectively, while the fifth is an amalgamation of the others. I shall comment on these correlations again towards the end of this dissertation (Chapter X). For now, however, I ask that they merely be entertained as a working hypothesis. Since Perry's definitions of these five modes of verification are remarkably clear and succinct , I list them here as a rough guide to the meanings of the traditional theories of truth: [pp 3-4] > > _Verification by perception_ [corresponding to the causal-adjustment theory], is simply the following up of the meaning of an idea. An idea means something . . . when it is so connected with something as to lead to the presentation of it. The idea must be a sort of handle to the object, a means of recovering it. And when I try my idea by using it to recover its object, I verify it in this first sense. It is true if the perception is what the idea calls for, or what the idea leads me to expect. . . . > > _Verification by consistency_ [corresponding to the coherence theory], is the testing of the idea on trial, by ideas already in good and regular standing. The idea is proved true by this test when it is not contradicted by other ideas, or is positively implied by them. . . . > > By "_verification by operation_" [corresponding to the pragmatic theory] I mean the same thing that James means by "subsequential utility." Or to employ another distinction made by the same author, I mean verification by "active" rather than "passive" experience. . . . Verification by sentiment [corresponding to the correspondence theory], is the proof of an idea by its immediate pleasantness or by its tonic effect upon the will. . . . >> _Verification by general utility_ [corresponding to an amalgamation of the four above theories], is the proof of an idea's truth by the total satisfaction it affords, by its suitability to all the purposes of life, individual and social. . . . > > The significant thing about this criterion is its indiscriminate merging,of the more specific criteria discussed above. . . . [1] (My emphases.) > > * [1] Ibid., pp. 205-211. > Pepper, on the other hand, rejects the amalgamation of these theories of truth, at least given our cur­ rent knowledge, basing his rejection on a far-reaching theory of metaphysics called the root-metaphor theory. This theory makes the following points: [p. 4] > 1. Each distinctive theory of truth is generated by a specific metaphysical system called a "world hypoth­ esis," a world hypothesis being a theory that attempts to deal with all facts without exception. > 2. Any coherent world hypothesis is based on a central, guiding analogy called a root metaphor. > 3. Just as it is impermissible to mix metaphors in the literary sense, it is likewise wrong to mix root metaphors, since the result is confusion. > 4. The impermissibility of mixing root metaphors implies that all the interpretations made by world hypotheses, including their theories of truth, likewise cannot be mixed. > 5. Since none of the major world hypotheses is significantly better than any of the other major ones, we are obliged to accept the good points of each while at the same time not amalgamating them into an indiscriminate eclecticism. [p. 5] > Pepper ascribes the correspondence theory of truth to a world hypothesis he calls "formism," the coherence theory to "organicism," the pragmatic (or operational) theory to "contextualism," and the causal-adjustment theory to "mechanism." [pp. 5-6] > [....] > The aim of the present dissertation is to solve the problem posed in the passage just cited, i.e., to reveal the "cognitive significance" hidden in the interrelationships of the major world hypotheses and their theories of truth. [p. 7]

## References Hoeflin, Ronald K. 1987. “The Root-Metaphor Theory: A Critical Appraisal of Stephen C. Pepper’s Theory of Metaphysics Through an Analysis of Its Interpretation of the Concepts of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness.” Doctoral dissertation, New York, NY: New School for Social Research. https://www.proquest.com/docview/303589498.