According to alethic functionalism, truth is a higher-order multiply realizable property of propositions. After briefly presenting the view’s main principles and motivations, I defend alethic functionalism from recent criticisms raised against it by Cory Wright. Wright argues that alethic functionalism will collapse either into deflationism or into a view which takes “true” as simply ambiguous. I reject both claims.
What does truth have to do with freedom? That is, what is the relationship between our political and epistemic principles? In this paper, I grapple and reject Rorty's reasons for thinking that the former can't be based on the latter, but offer an alternative argument that supports his over-all conclusion that our epistemic and political values are ultimately intertwined.
Like William James before him, Huw Price has influentially argued that truth has a normative role to play in our thought and talk. I agree. But Price also thinks that we should regard truth-conceived of as property of our beliefs-as something like a metaphysical myth. Here I disagree. In this paper, I argue that reflection on truth's values pushes us in a slightly different direction, one that opens the door to certain metaphysical possibilities that even a Pricean pragmatist can love.
Contemporary expressivists typically deny that all true judgments must represent reality. Many instead adopt truth minimalism, according to which there is no substantive property of judgments in virtue of which they are true. In this article, I suggest that expressivists would be better suited to adopt truth pluralism, or the view that there is more than one substantive property of judgments in virtue of which judgments are true. My point is not that an expressivism that takes this form is true, (...) but that it more readily accommodates the motivations that typically lead expressivists to their view in the first place. (shrink)
This essay focuses on the "cultural dope," an ironic reference in Harold Garfinkel's Studies in Ethnomethodology to the rule-following actor in conventional sociological theories. In the nearly half-century since the publication of that book, the "cultural dope" has been incorporated into numerous criticisms of "models of man" in the human sciences. Garfinkel's account appeals to many writers because it seems to present an alternative picture of the actor: an individual who is self-aware, reflective, and skilled in the conduct of daily (...) affairs. A problem with such a generalized picture of the actor is that it may seem to encourage uncritical acceptance of whatever "the public" (or a broad segment of the public) happens to believe or support. This paper revisits Garfinkel's account of the cultural dope, and contrasts "conservative" and "radical" readings of what Garfinkel does with that figure. The "conservative" reading leaves the edifice of a social-structural model largely intact, and provides an alternative, more complex, picture of individual action than that of a cultural dope. The "radical" reading places relevant social structures in a dependent relation to the contingencies of action, and thus destabilizes the very theoretical edifice that sets up the problem of how to integrate individual actions with stable social structures. In line with the "radical" reading, this paper suggests that Garfinkel creates serious difficulty for any generalized "model of man," regardless of whether it portrays the individual as active or passive, well-informed or ignorant, or reflexive or not. (shrink)
Can we give objective reasons for our most basic standards of reason-- our fundamental epistemic principles? I argue, against several forms of skepticism about reason, that we can, but that the reasons we can give for epistemic principles are ultimately practical, not epistemic.
At first glance, Mark Richard's recent book When Truth Gives Out appears, in the most commendable sense of the word, ‘old-fashioned’. Its central thesis is that truth is sometimes the wrong standard to use when assessing the judgements we make about the world. Not all correct judgements are true, and not all incorrect ones are false. They can all be measured, but they cannot all be measured in the same way. -/- Many of the heroes of old, ensconced in philosophical (...) Valhalla, are no doubt blowing their trumpets in approval. The heroes did not see truth as easy to come by. Far from it. Truth, like wealth, was to be earned, the product of hard epistemological work and stern semantic discipline. Much of what we say and think did not live up to their exacting standards for truth. Morality, literature, poetry, politics, philosophy, psychology and much else besides were often judged lacking. Consequently either we were to believe that all opinions in these matters were equally mistaken, or we were to look for explanations of why we say and think what we do about such things other than the desire to know the truth. We were expressing our sentiments, or prescribing, or commending, or manipulating. But in making such judgements, we were not judging what was true or false. Such were our choices. Grim, surely, but heroic choices often are. -/- So, like the heroes of old, Richard thinks that truth does not live everywhere. In this respect, he is aligned with such worthies as Hume, Russell, Ayer, and one or other of the Wittgensteins. But it is there that the resemblance stops. For in point of fact, Richard's way of approaching these matters is importantly new. This is an outstanding and original work of analytic philosophy, one that manages to be both deep and sensible; it rewards careful study, and defies easy categorization. -/- In what follows, I shall illustrate the distinctiveness of Richard's approach, and the problems it consequently faces, by asking two questions about some of its key elements. The first question concerns what his picture tells us about what remains when (absolute) truth gives way. The second concerns what it tells us about truth. These are hardly the only important aspects of his view – I shall be ignoring, for example, his discussion of emotivism, and a stellar discussion of the semantics of epithet – but they are some of the most fundamental. (shrink)
In this paper, I make two points about Richard’s truth relativism. First, I argue his truth relativism is at odds with his account of truth-aptness. Second, I argue that his truth relativism commits him to a form of pluralism about truth.
In this essay, I present a new argument for the imposszbility of defining truth by specifying the underlying structural property all and only true propositions have in common. The set of considerations. I use to support this claim take as their inspiration Alston's recent argument that it is impossible to define truth epistemically—in terms of justification or warrant. According to what Alston calls the "intensional argument", epistemic definitions are inconsistent with the T-schema or the principle that it is true that (...) p if, and only if, p. Since the T-schema has great intuitive appeal, this is a powerful indictment of epistemic theories. But the basic argument that Alston employs, and the constellation of considerations which prosecute that argument, work against a much broader range of views than he considers. While this implies that a traditional conceptual analysis of truth rnay be impossible, it opens the door to a pluralist approach to truth. (shrink)
Moral relativism is an attractive position, but also one that it is difficult to formulate. In this paper, we propose an alternative way of formulating moral relativism that locates the relativity of morality in the property that makes moral claims true. Such an approach, we believe, has significant advantages over other possible ways of formulating moral relativism. We conclude by considering a few problems such a position might face.
A colleague who was participating in one of the many Darwin bicentennial events on university campuses this year recently asked me, “What was Fuller thinking?” In reply, I sent him a copy of Steve Fuller’s (2009) opinion piece, which had just come out in this journal. In it, Fuller attempts to explain why he decided to perform as an expert witness for the defense in Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District (US Federal Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 2005). (...) I doubt that his explanation put my colleague’s question to rest. (shrink)
What is truth? Michael Lynch defends a bold new answer to this question. Traditional theories of truth hold that truth has only a single uniform nature. All truths are true in the same way. More recent deflationary theories claim that truth has no nature at all; the concept of truth is of no real philosophical importance. In this concise and clearly written book, Lynch argues that we should reject both these extremes and hold that truth is a functional property. To (...) understand truth we must understand what it does, its function in our cognitive economy. Once we understand that, we'll see that this function can be performed in more than one way. And that in turn opens the door to an appealing pluralism: beliefs about the concrete physical world needn't be true in the same way as our thoughts about matters -- like morality -- where the human stain is deepest. (shrink)
Is truth objective or relative? What exists independently of our minds? The essays in this book debate these two questions, which are among the oldest of philosophical issues and have vexed almost every major philosopher, from Plato, to Kant, to Wittgenstein. Fifteen eminent contributors bring fresh perspectives, renewed energy, and original answers to debates of great interest both within philosophy and in the culture at large.
A prevailing view in contemporary philosophy of mind is that zombies are logically possible. I argue, via a thought experiment, that if this prevailing view is correct, then I could be transformed into a zombie. If I could be transformed into a zombie, then surprisingly, I am not certain that I am conscious. Regrettably, this is not just an idiosyncratic fact about my psychology; I think you are in the same position. This means that we must revise or replace some (...) important positions in the philosophy of mind. We could embrace radical skepticism about our own consciousness, or maintain the complete and total infallibility of our beliefs about our own phenomenal experiences. I argue that we should actually reject the logical possibility of zombies. (shrink)
This paper analyses the topic of representation since the point of view of ethnomethodology and sociology of scientific knowledge. It starts out by discussing the “standard image of representation” and the constructivist proposition of that image. Then, a case of study is presented to suggest how practices for collecting and analyzing forensic evidence in criminal law, can contribute to understand representational adequacy. The aim of this paper is to think differently about representantion considering how it is produced, managed and deconstructed. (...) Since this point of view, the propositions is to consider representation not only as a problematic epistemological concept but also as a practical accomplishment in specific epistemic cultures. (shrink)
This paper examines the English case, Regina v Adams in which the difference between "scientific reason" and "common sense" was explicitly at stake in the use of DNA evidence. In its decision the Appellate Court reinstated a boundary between "scientific" and "common sense" evidence, arguing that this boundary was necessary to preserve the jury's role as trier of fact. The paper's discussion of the court's work of demarcation addresses the unresolved problems with the place of probability estimates in jury trials.
Minimalists generally see themselves as engaged in a descriptive project. They maintain that they can explain everything we want to say about truth without appealing to anything other than the T-schema, i.e., the idea that the proposition that p is true iff p. I argue that despite recent claims to the contrary, minimalists cannot explain one important belief many people have about truth, namely, that truth is good. If that is so, then minimalism, and possibly deflationism as a whole, must (...) be rejected or recast as a profoundly revisionary project. (shrink)
Pluralism about truth is the view that there is more than one way for a proposition to be true. When taken to imply that there is more than one concept and property of truth, this position faces a number of troubling objections. I argue that we can overcome these objections, and yet retain pluralism's key insight, by taking truth to be a multiply realizable property of propositions.
Supervenience has provided a way for nonreductive materialists to explain how the mental can be physically irreducible but still physically respectable. In recent years, doubts about this research program have emerged from a number of quarters. Consequently, Terence Horgan has argued that nonreductive materialists must appeal to an upgraded "superdupervenience," if supervenience is to do any materialist work. We argue that nonreductive materialism cannot meet this challenge. Superdupervenience is impossible.
In a series of papers written over the last two decades, Terence Horgan has articulated a radical position on truth and metaphysics that he calls contextual semantics. According to Horgan, we can abandon referentialism – or the idea that truth is always and everywhere understood in terms of the referential relations between words and world – while still sensibly believing in a mind-independent world. The centerpiece of contextual semantics is that it allows for some flexibility about truth: statements of different (...) sorts can be true in different ways depending on the degree to which they correspond to the world. In this paper, I explore the consequences of this position.While I believe that contextual semantics has significant advantages, there is a deep tension between Horgan'stolerance of more than one kind of truth and his belief in one type of reality – a tension that threatens to undermine the entire position. (shrink)
This paper discusses recent neuroscientific research that indicates a solution for what we label the ''causal problem'' of pain qualia, the problem of how the brain generates pain qualia. In particular, the data suggest that pain qualia naturally supervene on activity in a specific brain region: the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). The first section of this paper discusses several philosophical concerns regarding the nature of pain qualia. The second section overviews the current state of knowledge regarding the neuroanatomy and physiology (...) of pain processing. The third section highlights the recent research by Rainville et al. [(1997) Pain affect encoded in human anterior cingulate but not somatosensory cortex, Science, 277, 968-971], which suggests that pain affect is encoded in the ACC. The final section of the paper spells out exactly how these data affect the causal problem of pain qualia. (shrink)
The article begins with Derrida’s etymology of the word ‘archive’: a privileged site to which records are officially consigned and in which they are guarded by legal authority. It explores contemporary variations on the theme of archive. The cases presented include efforts to construct scholarly archives that stand as personal monuments, struggles over the collection and consignment of records during official investigations of government scandals, and the ‘popular archive’ produced by the media spectacle surrounding the O. J. Simpson trial. The (...) discussion orients to these archives not only as sources of documentary information but also as sites of historical struggle over the writing, collection, consignment, destruction and interpretation of writings. (shrink)
Ethnomethodologists (or at least many of them) have been reticent about their theoretical sources and methodological principles. It frequently falls to others to make such matters explicit. In this paper I discuss this silence about theory, but rather than entering the breach by specifying a set of implicit assumptions and principles, I suggest that the reticence is consistent with ethnomethodology's distinctive research 'program'. The main part of the paper describes the pedagogical exercises and forms of apprenticeship through which Garfinkel and (...) Sacks aimed to develop ethnomethodology as a practice. These efforts were not entirely successful, partly because ethnomethodological 'practice' required an engagement with other fully-fledged practices. Aside from the difficulties of mastering such practices, it was unclear what an ethnomethodological study would add to, or take from, them. Whether successful or not, ethnomethodological research points to the specificity of discourse and action in any given practice which a general theory is bound to misconstrue. Current disputes about cultural constructivist versions of natural science illustrate the problems that arise when the terms of a general theory are used to describe and evaluate specific domains of practice. The paper concludes by recommending ethnomethodology as a way to dissolve an unbridgeable gap between cultural theories and socially located practices. (shrink)
A common strategy amongst realists grants relativism at the level of language or thought but denies it at the level of fact. Their point is that even if our concept of an object is relative to a conceptual scheme, it doesn't follow that objects themselves are relative to conceptual schemes. This is a sensible point. But in this paper I present a simple argument for the conclusion that it is false. According to what I call the T-argument, relativism about content (...) entails a relativism about fact. (shrink)