File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_1998/bhaskar.9810, message 2

Date: Thu, 01 Oct 1998 09:09:25 +0100
Subject: Re: BHA: truth again

Hi Ruth,

I think Heikki and I have resolved to agree to disagree on this one because
we have other things to get on with. However, since it's 4.30 am here and
I'm being forced to sit up and watch Bedknobs and Broomsticks (I know you
are all jealous) with my sick 6 year old I thought I would take the time to

>Colin wrote:  "However, without the support of ontological realism 
>Now, as is easier to see in the plainer formulation, a lot rests on what 
>is meant by "makes."  As I understand it, what I will call the strong 
>interpretation has it that it is reality itself that is true; that truth 
>is a property, or better a predicate of reality.

I suppose this is close to my formulation, but not exact. Reality, as a
generic concept isn't exactly true, but it has a mode of being that
constitutes its alethic truth. Put this way one might begin to see how
"ontological realism" and the alethia of that reality differ. Ontological
realism, says little other than that there is a real. The alethia of this
real denotes its form.

  And that it is in this 
>sense that ontological realism authorizes judgmental rationality.

I think I would prefer to say that it makes it possible and that such
judgements can be correct in relation to the real as opposed to mere
agreement of opinions. It seems to me the problem is this: An anti-realist,
or anyone else, can claim judgemental rationalism. If I posit religious
authority as the epistemic arbiter and I am the high priest, then we judge
between accounts on my say so (I quite like this idea;-)). We have
judgemental rationalism because I tell everyone what is true. We can also
use conventionalism so that we reach an agreement in opinions and claim
this is true. We could proliferate these examples. The problems comes when
we throw epistemic relativism into the equation, so that you all turn round
to me and say, "well i'm setting up my own religion and I have my own
truth", or "well we don't agree with you and have a different truth".

What I see CR as attempting to do, is to say: "OK we have these many
religions and conventional agreements, opinions etc., but these don't
articulate truths as such, but express claims to truth." But now we are
either faced with the problem of judgemental relativism, or we accept that
these are claims to truth about something. CR takes the latter option
(ontological realism). But to be of value to judgemental rationalism this
something has to have a form. A form that we can come to know. It can't
simply be undifferentiated and unstructured. It has a mode of being that we
attempt to capture in thought. This mode of being is "its" alethia. Its
alethia is independent of any opinion, and hence makes any and every truth
claim potentially fallible. All truth claims are open to challenge. But
because of the alethia of things some challenges will be better than
others; hence the possibility of judgemental rationalism.

(c) both, plus believe that a rationally 
>held theory is one which tells us something about reality and *STILL* 
>not believe that reality itself is truthful.
>2.  I think I'm in the (c) camp for now.   

Then the question becomes: Just what is the *something* that the theory
tells us? The alethia of that portion of reality perhaps? Or *something*
constructed by the theory, in which case what role is ontological realism
playing? There may be other options, of course, but its just got to the
exciting bit in the film (is there an exciting bit in this film? sad
something or other springs to mind) so I'll leave it here. One final
argument in favour of alethia: it's just so unfashionable.



Dr. Colin Wight
Department of International Politics
University of Wales, Aberystwyth
SY23 3DA
Tel: (01970) 621769 

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