Truth and Norms develops a novel pluralistic view of the normative role that truth exerts on judgements. This view, labeled normative alethic pluralism, provides the best explanation of the variable normative significance that disagreement exhibits in different areas of discourse and is fully compatible with a minimalist conception of truth.
ABSTRACTEcumenical Alethic Pluralism is a novel kind of alethic pluralism. It is ecumenical in that it widens the scope of alethic pluralism by allowing for a normatively deflated truth property alongside a variety of normatively robust truth properties. We establish EAP by showing how Wright’s Inflationary Arguments fail in the domain of taste, once a relativist treatment of the metaphysics and epistemology of that domain is endorsed. EAP is highly significant to current debates on the nature of truth insofar as (...) it involves a reconfiguration of the dialectic between deflationists and pluralists. (shrink)
Some philosophers have argued that truth is a norm of judgement and have provided a variety of formulations of this general thesis. In this paper, I shall side with these philosophers and assume that truth is a norm of judgement. What I am primarily interested in here are two core questions concerning the judgement-truth norm: (i) what are the normative relationships between truth and judgement? And (ii) do these relationships vary or are they constant? I argue for a pluralist picture—what (...) I call Normative Alethic Pluralism (NAP)—according to which (i) there is more than one correct judgement-truth norm and (ii) the normative relationships between truth and judgement vary in relation to the subject matter of the judgement. By means of a comparative analysis of disagreement in three areas of the evaluative domain—refined aesthetics, basic taste and morality—I show that there is an important variability in the normative significance of disagreement—I call this the variability conjecture. By presenting a variation of Lynch’s scope problem for alethic monism, I argue that a monistic approach to the normative function of truth is unable to vindicate the conjecture. I then argue that normative alethic pluralism provides us with a promising model to account for it. (shrink)
We provide a framework for understanding agnosticism. The framework accounts for the varieties of agnosticism while vindicating the unity of the phenomenon. This combination of unity and plurality is achieved by taking the varieties of agnosticism to be represented by several agnostic stances, all of which share a common core provided by what we call the minimal agnostic attitude. We illustrate the fruitfulness of the framework by showing how it can be applied to several philosophical debates. In particular, several philosophical (...) positions can be aptly conceived of as instances of agnosticism whilst retaining their differences and distinguishing features. (shrink)
Can someone who suspends judgement about a certain proposition <p> be in a relational state of disagreement with someone who believes <p> as well as with some- one who disbelieves <p>? This paper argues for an af- firmative answer. It develops an account of the notions of suspended judgement and disagreement that explains how and why the suspender is in a relational state of disagreement with both the believer and the disbeliever about the very same proposition <p>. More specifically, the (...) paper first provides a characterisation of the norma- tive profile associated with the state of suspended judge- ment in terms of the set of normative commitments that it engenders in the context of inquiry. It then provides a characterisation of the notion of disagreement in terms the incompatibility between the sets of normative com- mitments characteristic of the three states in question— belief, disbelief, and suspension. (shrink)
In Truth and Objectivity, Crispin Wright argues that because truth is a distinctively normative property, it cannot be as metaphysically insubstantive as deflationists claim.1 This argument has been taken, together with the scope problem,2 as one of the main motivations for alethic pluralism.3 We offer a reconstruction of Wright’s Inflationary Argument (henceforth IA) aimed at highlighting what are the steps required to establish its inflationary conclusion. We argue that if a certain metaphysical and epistemological view of a given subject matter (...) is accepted, a local counterexample to IA can be constructed. We focus on the domain of basic taste and we develop two variants of a subjectivist and relativist metaphysics and epistemology that seems palatable in that domain. Although we undertake no commitment to this being the right metaphysical cum epistemological package for basic taste, we contend that if the metaphysics and the epistemology of basic taste are understood along these lines, they call for a truth property whose nature is not distinctively normative—contra what IA predicts. This result shows that the success of IA requires certain substantial metaphysical and epistemological principles and that, consequently, a proper assessment of IA cannot avoid taking a stance on the metaphysics and the epistemology of the domain where it is claimed to be successful. Although we conjecture that IA might succeed in other domains, in this paper we don’t take a stand on this issue. We conclude by briefly discussing the significance of this result for the debate on alethic pluralism. (shrink)
I present a novel strategy to account for two thoughts concerning disagreements about taste: (i) that they need not involve any substantive fault (faultlessness); (ii) that the faultlessness of a contrary opinion can be coherently appreciated from within a committed perspective (parity). Under the assumption that judgments of taste are truth-apt and governed by the truth-norm, I argue that understanding how exactly truth is normative offers a strategy for accounting for both thoughts. I distinguish between different ways in which truth (...) governs judgment to substantiate the thesis that truth’s normative function varies according to the subject matter at issue. I then argue that truth’s normative guidance in the domain of taste is characteristically weak. I introduce an intuitive distinction between basic and refined taste, and show how this distinction affects questions of faultlessness and parity. Last, I discuss the idea of alethic suberogation in connection with disagreement about refined taste. (shrink)
Since the publication of Truth, Paul Horwich’s ‘Minimalism’ has become the paradigm of what goes under the label ‘the deflationary conception of truth’. Despite the many theoretical virtues of Horwich’s minimalism, it is usually contended that it cannot fully account for the normative role that truth plays in enquiry. As I see it, this concern amounts to several challenges. One such challenge—call it the axiological challenge—is about whether deflationists have the theoretical resources to explain the value of truth. Some philosophers (...) have argued that they do not. The thought is that by being valuable in the way it is, truth plays a non-trivial explanatory role with respect to core phenomena of enquiry. In order to account for this aspect of truth, the challenge goes, we need to inflate truth’s nature to an extent incompatible with core tenets of the minimalist conception. In this paper, I first provide some clarifications of what we mean exactly when we say that truth is valuable. By borrowing important distinction from the current debate in axiology, I elaborate a framework within which to conduct investigations into the value of truth. With reference to Horwich’s discussion of the issue, I then discuss the link between questions concerning the explanatory role of truth and the issue of its metaphysical inflation. I conclude by briefly exploring a few strategies on behalf of minimalists to address the axiological challenge. (shrink)
In Truth and Objectivity, Crispin Wright argues that because truth is a distinctively normative property, it cannot be as metaphysically insubstantive as deflationists claim. We offer a reconstruction of Wright’s Inflationary Argument that highlights the steps required to establish its inflationary conclusion. We argue that if a certain metaphysical and epistemological view of a given subject matter is accepted, a local counterexample to the Inflationary Argument can be constructed. As a case study we focus on the domain of basic taste. (...) We develop two variants of a subjectivist and relativist metaphysics and epistemology that seem palatable in that domain and we show that the Inflationary Argument doesn’t go through in the domain of basic taste thus construed. We conclude by briefly discussing the significance of this result for the debate on alethic pluralism. (shrink)
In this paper I offer some critical comments to MacFarlane's recent book "Assessment Sensitivity". I focus primarily on MacFarlane's understanding of the normative aspects of enquiry—in particular I take issue with the phenomena of retraction and disagreement as preclusion of joint accuracy. I argue that both notions are problematic and that—at least in the case of basic taste—they are not needed in order to account for our intuitions.
I have two objectives in this paper. The first is to investigate whether, and to what extent, truth is valuable. I do this by first isolating the value question from other normative questions. Second, I import into the debate about the nature of truth some key distinctions hailing from value theory. This will help us to clarify the sense in which truth is valuable. I then argue that there is significant variability in the value of truth in different areas of (...) discourse. I shall call this the axiological variability conjecture. I illustrate and substantiate AVC by contrasting the occurrence of disagreement in two paradigmatically evaluative areas of discourse, viz. matters of taste, on the one hand, and morality, on the other. I claim that there is a reasonable tendency to care much more about settling moral disagreements than taste disagreements and that this difference has to do, at least partly but significantly, with the different value that truth exhibits in these two areas of discourse. I then turn to the second objective of the paper—namely, to discuss how pluralistic accounts of the nature of truth may deal with the value of truth in light of AVC. I will argue that AVC is a problem for all versions of truth pluralism that are committed to the following two theses: that truth is a value concept; and that this characteristic of the concept has to be reflected in the metaphysical nature of any admissible truth properties—i.e., all the various properties that are admissible in the pluralist account are value-conferring properties and thus intrinsically valuable. In so doing, I will focus primarily on Michael Lynch’s functionalist incarnation of truth pluralism. Lynch terms this “Manifestation Alethic Pluralism”. My reason for this is twofold: first and foremost, MAP is a paradigmatic exemplification of a model of truth pluralism that is committed to both and ; second, MAP has, to date, enjoyed the most discussion, and currently provides the most developed account of truth pluralism. However, I argue that MAP lacks the resources to account for AVC. Owing to this, I suggest two ways out for an advocate of MAP, which force various structural changes in her view. (shrink)
Assessment relativism, as developed by John MacFarlane, is the view that the truth of our claims involving a variety of English expressions—‘tasty’, ‘knows’, ‘tomorrow’, ‘might’, and ‘ought’—is relative not only to aspects of the context of their production but also to aspects of the context in which they are assessed. Assessment relativism is thus a form of truth relativism which is offered as a new way of understanding perspectival thought and talk. In this article, I present the main theses of (...) assessment relativism, focusing in particular on highlighting the points of commonality and contrast with other forms of truth relativism. I then offer some critical remarks concerning the motivation of assessment relativism in relation to matters of taste. (shrink)
According to the form of logical pluralism elaborated by Beall and Restall there is more than one relation of logical consequence. Since they take the relation of logical consequence to reside at the very heart of a logical system, different relations of logical consequence yield different logics. In this paper, we are especially interested in understanding what are the consequences of endorsing Beall and Restall’s version of logical pluralism vis-à-vis the normative guidance that logic is taken to provide to reasoners. (...) In particular, the aim of this paper is threefold. First, in Sections 2 and 3, we offer an exegesis of Beall and Restall’s logical pluralism as a thesis of semantic indeterminacy of our concept of logical consequence – i.e. understood as indeterminacy logical pluralism. Second, in Sections 4 and 5, we elaborate and critically scrutinize three models of semantic indeterminacy that we think are fit to capture Beall and Restall’s indeterminacy logical pluralism. Third, in Section 6, following Beall and Restall’s assumption that the notion of logical consequence has normative significance for deductive reasoning, we raise a series of normative problems for indeterminacy logical pluralism. The overall conclusion that we aim to establish is that Beall and Restall’s indeterminate logical pluralism cannot offer an adequate account of the normative guidance that logic is taken to provide us with in ordinary contexts of reasoning. (shrink)
Starting from a proof-theoretic perspective, where meaning is determined by the inference rules governing logical operators, in this paper we primarily aim at developing a proof-theoretic alternative to the model-theoretic meaning-invariant logical pluralism discussed in Beall and Restall. We will also outline how this framework can be easily extended to include a form of meaning-variant logical pluralism. In this respect, the framework developed in this paper—which we label two-level proof-theoretic pluralism—is much broader in scope than the one discussed in Beall (...) and Restall’s book. (shrink)
In this book, we interpret post-truth as a multifaceted phenomenon which involves fake news, emotion-driven rhetoric (vs fact-driven discussion), credulism in the social-media, conspiracy theories and scientific denialism. We develop three models intended to represent the multifaceted nature of post-truth in terms of deviated forms of enquiry – which we label “post-enquiries”. The first form of post-enquiry posits the existence of alternative facts; the second prioritizes emotions over facts; the third limits the scope of the norms of enquiry. We elaborate (...) on the third model in relation to scientific denialism and we apply it to analyse the case of flat-earthism. (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)
This thesis engages with three topics and the relationships between them: (i) the phenomenon of disagreement (paradigmatically, where one person makes a claim and another denies it); (ii) the normative character of disagreements (the issue of whether, and in what sense, one of the parties is “at fault” for believing something that’s untrue); (iii) the issue of which theory of what truth is can best accommodate the norms relating belief and truth. People disagree about all sorts of things: about whether (...) climate is changing, death penalty is wrong, sushi is delicious, or Louis C.K. is funny. However, even focusing on disagreements in the evaluative domain (e.g., taste, moral and comedic), where people have the intuition that there is ‘no fact of the matter’ about who is right, there are significant differences that require explanation. For instance, disagreement about taste is generally perceived as shallow. People accept to disagree and live comfortably with that fact. By contrast, moral disagreement is perceived as deep and sometimes hard to tolerate. Comedic disagreement is similar to taste. However, it may involve an element of ‘intellectual snobbery’ that is absent in taste disagreement. The immediate questions are whether these contrasts allow of precise characterization and what is responsible for them. I argue that, once a case is made for the truth-aptness of judgments in these areas, the contrast can be explained in terms of variable normative function of truth – as exerting a lightweight normative constraint in the domain of taste and a stricter constraint in the moral domain. In particular I claim that while truth in the moral domain exerts a sui generis deontic control, this normative feature of truth is silent in both the taste and the comedic domains. This leads me to investigate how to conceive of truth in the light of normative variability. I argue that an amended version of deflationism – minimally inflated deflationism – can account for the normative variability of truth. (shrink)
This opening piece of the special issue ‘Perspectives on Post-Truth’ aims to accomplish three tasks. First, and foremost, it highlights the issue’s distinctive feature, namely its variegated approach to post-truth. The leading idea in assembling it has been to draw on different methodologies, theoretical approaches, and competences, in order to gain a fine-grained understanding of the post-truth condition and to develop an effective toolkit to address the most pressing challenges it poses to our societies. The underlying conviction is that a (...) variegated approach is required by the multifaceted nature of the post-truth condition. The curious reader willing to venture through the issue will thus be exposed to different perspectives on post-truth: some pieces address it from a traditional epistemological perspective, others explore post-truth from the perspective of social epistemology, and still others adopt a semiotic perspective. In light of this multiplicity of perspectives, the second task of this piece has been to provide a brief thematic overview of the key issues and perspectives in order to illustrate the overall narrative of the project. The third and final task has been to give a detailed synopsis of each contribution so that the reader will know precisely what to expect from it. (shrink)
In this paper we investigate whether and to what extent scientists (e.g. inquirers such as epidemiologists or virologists) can have rational and fruitful disagreement with what we call post-enquirers (e.g. conspiratorial anti-vaxxers) on topics of scientific relevance such as the safety and efficacy of vaccines. In order to accomplish this aim, we will rely and expand on the epistemological framework developed in detail in Ferrari & Moruzzi (2021) to study the underlying normative profile of enquiry and post-enquiry. We take it (...) that our analysis provides an effective explanation of why standard argumentative strategies such as fact-checking and debunking cannot work in the context of disagreement between scientists and denialists unless they are coupled with a discussion of the values that are endorsed by the scientific community. (shrink)
We offer a critical survey of the most discussed accounts of epistemic peer disagreement that are found in the recent literature. We also sketch an alternative approach in line with a pluralist understanding of epistemic rationality.
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 who wish to have truth as part of the natural order, answering this question is of paramount importance. In this chapter, (...) we focus primarily on the kinds of theory 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)
The main thesis of this paper is that science denialism brings about an aberrant form of enquiry in which the epistemic norms governing scientific enquiry are deviated in significant ways. Science denialism doesn’t involve just a rejection of a scientific theory; it also deeply challenges the practice, common within scientific enquiry, of continuously and, to a certain extent, impartially testing research methods, theories, and evidential sources with the aim of improving the accuracy of our theories. We will offer an in-depth (...) analysis of the epistemic mechanisms underpinning the normative aberration brought about by science denialism. More specifically, we will develop a fine-grained framework to model a variety of normative deviances that may take place in enquiry. By analysing two case studies, we will argue that fake news contributes significantly to shape the epistemic norms operating within science denialism. They in fact play two pivotal roles: first, they are used to cast discredit on a variety of (institutional) sources of evidence in relation to a certain set of phenomena (e.g. whether vaccines are safe for our health); second, they also play a part in building the alternative explanation of the targeted phenomena. (shrink)