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)
In this engaging and spirited text, Michael Lynch argues that truth does matter, in both our personal and political lives. He explains that the growing cynicism over truth stems in large part from our confusion over what truth is.
Know-it-All Society is about how we form and maintain our political convictions, and the ways in which political ideologies, human psychology and technology conspire to make our society more dogmatic, less intellectually humble and ultimately less democratic.
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)
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.
Introduction / Alessandra Tanesini and Michael P. Lynch -- Reassessing different conceptions of argumentation / Catarina Dutilh Novaes -- Martial metaphors and argumentative virtues and vices / Ian James Kidd -- Arrogance and deep disagreement / Andrew Aberdein -- Closed-mindedness and arrogance / Heather Battaly -- Intellectual trust and the marketplace of ideas / Allan Hazlett -- Is searching the Internet making us intellectually arrogant? / J. Adam Carter and Emma C. Gordon -- Intellectual humility and the curse of knowledge (...) / Michael Hannon -- Bullshit and dogmatism : a discourse analytical perspective / Chris Heffer -- Polarization and the problem of spreading arrogance / Michael P. Lynch -- Arrogance, polarization and arguing to win / Alessandra Tanesini -- Partisanship, humility, and epistemic polarization / Thomas Nadelhoffer, Rose Graves, Gus Skorburg, Mark Leary, and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong -- Science denial, polarization, and arrogance / Lee McIntyre -- The polarization toolkit / Quassim Cassam -- Epistemic rights in a polarized world : the right to know and the abortion / Debate Lani Watson. (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.
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)
In this paper we discuss three different kinds of disagreement that have been, or could reasonably be, characterized as deep disagreements. Principle level disagreements are disagreements over the truth of epistemic principles. Sub-principle level deep disagreements are disagreements over how to assign content to schematic norms. Finally, framework-level disagreements are holistic disagreements over meaning not truth, that is over how to understand networks of epistemic concepts and the beliefs those concepts compose. Within the context of each of these kinds of (...) disagreement it is not possible for the parties to the dispute to rationally persuade one another through only offering epistemic reasons for their conflicting points of view. However, in spite of the inability to rationally persuade, we explore how it may nevertheless be possible to rationally navigate each of these varieties of deep disagreement. (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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Why does reason matter, if in the end everything comes down to blind faith or gut instinct? Why not just go with what you believe even if it contradicts the evidence? Why bother with rational explanation when name-calling, manipulation, and force are so much more effective in our current cultural and political landscape? Michael Lynch's In Praise of Reason offers a spirited defense of reason and rationality in an era of widespread skepticism--when, for example, people reject scientific evidence about such (...) matters as evolution, climate change, and vaccines when it doesn't jibe with their beliefs and opinions. In recent years, skepticism about the practical value of reason has emerged even within the scientific academy. Many philosophers and psychologists claim that the reasons we give for our most deeply held views are often little more than rationalizations of our prior convictions. _In_ _Praise of Reason_ gives us a counterargument. Although skeptical questions about reason have a deep and interesting history, they can be answered. In particular, appeals to scientific principles of rationality are part of the essential common currency of any civil democratic society. The idea that everything is arbitrary--that reason has no more weight than blind faith--undermines a key principle of a civil society: that we owe our fellow citizens explanations for what we do. Reason matters--not just for the noble ideal of truth, but for the everyday world in which we live. (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)
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)
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 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)
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)
_ 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.
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)
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)
One of the most influential analytic philosophers of the late twentieth century, William P. Alston is a leading light in epistemology, philosophy of religion, and the philosophy of language. In this volume, twelve leading philosophers critically discuss the central topics of his work in these areas, including perception, epistemic circularity, justification, the problem of religious diversity, and truth.
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.
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)
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.