File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_1998/bhaskar.9810, message 24

Date: Tue, 6 Oct 1998 09:25:34 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: BHA: truth again

Colin wrote,

"Moreover, if you are not appealing to the nature of things
(their alethia) in your truth claims, then what are your truth claims

I don't think we are getting anywhere here.  The disagreement is about
whether or not it is a good idea to think that the concept "the nature of
things" is interchangeable with (part of) the concept "truth".  

As I understand everyone's positions, Heikki, Caroline and I believe that,
on balance, it is *not* a good idea to refer to the nature of things as
their "truth," (except perhaps metaphorically -- and even then, only amongst
fellow critical realists, who we assume agree with us that the transitive
dimension of socially produced explanations and evaluative concepts is
ontologically distinct from that of structured, real natural processes!). 

What we regard knowledge claims as being "about" is, indeed, nothing other
than "the nature of things."  

But because, again, the argument being put forward is precisely that "the
nature of things" is *NOT* usefully recast as "their alethia," none of us
find that the concept of the "intransitive object" of natural science, to
use the classic RB language, is undermined or compromised in any way by
distinguishing it from the concept of "truth".

Colin also wrote:               
"Moreover, if the truth of things is a function of (only) our claims about
those things, then a form of idealism is being proposed."   

1.  The claim is that our thoughts, and specifically our judgments
concerning the veracity of our causal accounts, are ours and ours alone --
that none of our concepts ought to be seen as inhering in "things."  This is
hardly an argument for idealism.

2. In my view, anyway, the concept of "truth" is not the same as the concept
of "knowledge."  (I know that mainstream epistemologists agree that
"justified true belief" is a fine definition of knowledge, but I'm inclined
to consider the concepts separately..) Thus, although I *do* believe that,
were there no people there'd be no concept of "truth," I do not regard this
principle of materialism as implying that the concept of truth is a
"function" of particular knowledge claims.  But this is old ground, from
last spring.  Yes?

I know I'm starting to get cranky, but this has actually been a very helpful
exchange for me.  I gotta run.


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