Brentano on Truth

In U. Kriegel (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Brentano and the Brentano School. Routledge (2017)
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How to understand Brentano’s account of truth is a question of some controversy. A number of different views have been put forward as positions that Brentano held at some stage in his career. The received view has it that the early Brentano subscribed to a form of correspondence theory which he later rejected in favor of a definition of truth in terms of correct judging, where the correctness of a judgment is defined in terms of the notion of self-evidence (see Kraus 1966, Szrednicki 1965, Stegmüller 1969, Kamitz 1983, Chrudzimski 2001). This fundamental shift in Brentano’s view is regarded as a change from an ontological to a “gnoseological”, i.e. epistemic, theory of truth (see Kastil 1934). Brentano’s mature view is sometimes said to resemble a neo-Kantian conception of truth or related views (see Kraus 1966, van der Schaar 1999, 2003), it has been compared with a coherence theory of truth (see Krantz 1990/91), and it is regarded as embracing a form of alethic anti-realism that places a substantial epistemic constraint on the concept of truth (see Künne 2003). More recently, Charles Parsons suggested that the early Brentano may also be regarded as a precursor of a deflationist theory of truth (see Parsons 2004). Following up on this proposal, the received view has been challenged by a new interpretation that ascribes to Brentano a deflationist position that he held throughout his career in combination with the view that truth pertains primarily to self-evident judgment (see Brandl forthcoming). Section 1 first summarizes the received view and then indicates two problems raised by this interpretation. Section 2 explains in which sense Brentano may have been a deflationist and how this interpretation avoids the problems of the received view.

Author's Profile

Johannes Brandl
University of Salzburg


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