File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_2003/bhaskar.0312, message 224

Subject: BHA: RE: Re: Realism after the Linguistic Turn (Habermas)
Date: Tue, 16 Dec 2003 11:40:33 -0600

Hi Howard,

As I understand Habermas, he thinks that he has preserved the critical force of the concept of truth in just the same way as Putnam does: by defining the concept not in terms of what any actual group of people do or would assent to, but in terms of what hypothetical people in a ideal setting would assent to.

Habermas spends more time specifying the ideal than does Putnam, and the specs are different.  The important difference, from Habermas's perspective, is that it is not what idealized knowers would each come to as individuals, but rather what they would agree upon intersubjectively.  I understand this to be the reason that Habermas puts the emphasis on the parameters of the *situation* rather than on, for example, the subjective state of the knowers (e.g. that they know everything on the topic).  The outcome may be the same as in Putnam's approach (with his ideal collection of atomistically conceived all-knowing knoers), but it's important to register the difference.

As with Putnam, Habermas' definition of the concept of truth in terms not of warranted assent but of IDEAL warranted (intersubjective) assent can, I believe, be traced back to Pierce.  In my view it is helpful to see how Putnam and Habermas make the same move vis-a-vis consensus theories of truth.  Again, both try to preserve the critical function of the concept of truth by stipulating that the epistemic conditions that define the concept (according to those who hold to epistemic theories of truth) are ideal conditions, rather than any real conditions.  

As you know, I think that they've both got it backwards -- while one hopes that ideal knowers (or abstract people in an ideal situation) would endorse those propositions that are, indeed, true, it is not the assent of ideal knowers (or intersubjective agreement of abstrct knowers in an ideal setting) that makes a proposition true, if it is.  (Though it's not a bad definition of justification.)  That's how I see it, anyway.   


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