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)
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.
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.
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 Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 1999 Academic debates about pluralism and truth have become increasingly polarized in recent years. One side embraces extreme relativism, deeming any talk of objective truth as philosophically naïve. The opposition, frequently arguing that any sort of relativism leads to nihilism, insists on an objective notion of truth according to which there is only one true story of the world. Both sides agree that there is no middle path. In Truth in Context, Michael Lynch argues (...) that there is a middle path, one where metaphysical pluralism is consistent with a robust realism about truth. Drawing on the work of Hilary Putnam, W.V.O. Quine, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, among others, Lynch develops an original version of metaphysical pluralism, which he calls relativistic Kantianism. He argues that one can take facts and propositions as relative without implying that our ordinary concept of truth is a relative, epistemic, or "soft" concept. The truths may be relative, but our concept of truth need not be. (shrink)
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)
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.
According to alethic functionalism, truth is a higher-order multiply realizable property of propositions. After briefly presenting the views 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 that takes true as simply ambiguous. I reject both claims.
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)
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)
Imagine you had the functions of your smartphone miniaturized to a cellular level and accessible by your neural network. Reflection on this possibility suggests that we should not just concern ourselves with whether our knowledge is extending “out” to our devices; our devices are extending in, and with them, possibly the information that they bring. If so, then the question of whether knowledge is “extended” becomes wrapped up with the question of whether knowing is something we do, or something we (...) can share with, or outsource to, instruments. And that in turn raises the two questions of this paper: First, to what extent does such technology put pressure on the idea that we might have more than one conception of knowledge? And second, what is the value of states that fit these conceptions of knowledge? (shrink)
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.
_ Source: _Page Count 11 Epistemic Authority: A Theory of Trust, Authority, and Autonomy in Belief. By Linda Trinkaus Zagzebski. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. Pp. xiii +279. isbn 978–0–19–993647–2.
Although Alston believed epistemically circular arguments were able to justify their conclusions, he was also disquieted by them. We will argue that Alston was right to be disquieted. We explain Alston’s view of epistemic circularity, the considerations that led him to accept it, and the purposes he thought epistemically circular arguments could serve. We then build on some of Alston’s remarks and introduce further limits to the usefulness of such arguments and introduce a new problem that stems from those limits. (...) The upshot is that adopting Alston’s view that epistemically circular arguments can be used to justify their conclusions is more costly than even he thought. (shrink)
Despite widespread confusion over its meaning, the notion of a conceptual scheme is pervasive in Anglo-American philosophy, particularly amongst those who call themselves ' conceptual relativists'. In this paper, I identify three different ways to understand conceptual schemes. I argue that the two most common models, deriving from Kant and Quine, are flawed, and, in addition, useless for the relativist. Instead, I urge adoption of a 'neo-Kantian', broadly Wittgensteinian model, which, it is ' argued, is immune from Davidsonian objections to (...) the very idea of a scheme. (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)
Is truth itself natural? This is an important question for both those working on truth and those working on naturalism. For theorists of truth, answering the question of whether truth is natural will tell us more about the nature of truth (or lack of it), and the relations between truth and other properties of interest. For those working on naturalism, answering this question is of paramount importance to those who wish to have truth as part of the natural order. In (...) this paper, we focus primarily on the kinds of theories of truth that occupy the central positions in current debates about truth, namely correspondence theories, deflationary theories, epistemic theories, and pluralist theories, and aim to discern the extent to which truth is a natural property on each view. (shrink)
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.
The purpose of this paper is to explain Hume's account of the way both the scope and the degree of benevolent motivation is limited. I argue that Hume consistently affirms, both in the _Treatise<D> and in the second _Enquiry<D>, (i) that the scope of benevolent motivation is very broad, such that it includes any creature that is conscious and capable of thought, and (ii) that the degree of benevolent motivation is limited, such that a person is naturally inclined to feel (...) benevolence more strongly for one with whom he or she has a 'connexion', e.g., a family member or friend. (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.
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)
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)
Alethic pluralism is the view that there is more than one way for propositions to be true. This paper examines three ways of understanding this idea and argues that each has significant flaws. It concludes by suggesting a way for the pluralist to construct a more plausible position.RésuméLe pluralisme aléthique est la conception suivant laquelle il y a plus d’une manière pour des propositions d’être vraies. Cet article étudie trois manières de comprendre cette idée et argumente que chacune a des (...) faiblesses significatives. Je conclus en suggérant une issue au pluraliste qui lui permette de construire une position plus plausible. (shrink)
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)
Research on neural transplantation has great potential societal importance in part because of the expanding proportion of the population that is elderly. Transplantation studies can benefit from the guidance of research on cognitive aging, especially in connection with the assessment of behavioral outcomes. Speech for example, might be explored using avian models.
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)