My title may seem pretentious, but I want to mean something modest.
It’s not A theory of truth that one should hope for—or should I say: that I hope for: Increasingly clear to me is that one theory of truth may be appropriate for its kind and another theory for its kind, such that a “philosophy” of truth is the approach to appropriateness that pertains to various definitions of truth.
A deflationary theory is quite suitable for transposing The Question of what’s true about true statements to the semantical/analytical domain, in effect annuling the problem of truth as having a quality of trueness any longer compelling in its own terms.
A consensus theory of truth might be suitable for theorizing what juries do; or what peer review processes implicitly express. Certainly, Habermas’s design for normative validity is a consensus theory of regulative “truth” or deservedness of action-orienting efficacy: that a regulative is validly binding. The entirety of his theory of validity is appropriately called a consensus theory of Truth, though he uses ‘truth’ only in a sense pertinent to interactive objectivity of states of affairs.
A coherence theory of “truth” might be suitable for ethical thinking, life-orienting clarity about commitments, or for an axiology. (The Christian notion that “the truth shall set you free” expresses an emancipatory, individuating interest.)
An epistemological theory is suitable for scientific interests (re: statistically significant-enough evidentiary confidence).
A pragmatic theory of truth is good for action-orienting (goal-directed) interest.
This reminds me of Michael Lynch’s stance on “truth in context.” He published articles on that theme before he edited the wonderful, big anthology of others’ work, titled The Nature of Truth, 2001.
Maybe I should call what I have in mind an appropriative theory of truth theories. Gary’s philosophy of truth: Appropriative thinking.
Anyway, you might expect that a pragmatic theory of truth would pertain to all action-oriented interest, in accord with a scale of purposiveness in action, generally of living a life. Habermas, though, seems to want to confine his pragmatic theory to communicative action (OPC 376 bottom). Such sociocentrism is evident throughout his account of the pragmatic perspective in his response to Rorty, as well as in his career generally, as if reaching understanding with others is what we mainly do, while he gives passing attention to the lifeworld’s other action orientations, as if communicative action tends to generally override other interests.
Actually, his theory (which has much, much more to do with a presumed need for justification than with interest in what truth is) is designed for critical problem-solving relative to the common engagement we have with action coordination with each other that becomes problematic without conflict, given desire for accord with each other in light of interest in understanding each other.But the reader from Mars might easily believe that Earthlings either coordinate with each other all the time or act instrumentally It’s not as if making a good life, doing art and science, building things all serve communicative action.
He’s about theory and philosophy in the interest of social life.
So, what’s needed (to my mind, at least) is a way to see the complementarity of communicative life with the larger context of what we do. In particular, I need to understand (oversimplifying here) how unprecedented change happens—innovation, creativity, progress, evolution (in the progressive sense). My frustration with Habermas is that I want him to be giving more attention to what interests me, in complement to my intense interest in what interests him.I look to his work for insight into what “bothers” me about intertia in human flourishing, given the social analyses, which leaves me with questions of what is, in a phrase, capacity for insight and how can it be fostered, empowered, institutionalized. (But I am oversimplifying.)
The issue has remained: What’s a good way to appropriate Habermas’ work (among others) in a more comprehensive approach to human life, progress, flourishing, and evolution? It’s not a matter of Habermas: yes or no, rather a matter of how to appropriate his deliberate boundaries into a more comprehensive view. For example—major example, for me—what might the complementary attention to creative individuality (without coarse individualism) look like and how best to appropriate this with Habermasian work (and much other work)?
This kind of interest is what I’ve meant in the past by talking about moving “beyond” Habermas but in the human interest (in intimate solidarity with Habermas, I hope). This requires that I’m really moving on with Habermas’ work, not a willful projection of his views (as “my” Habermas) or using self-serving critique (moving against Habermas) in order to feel confident about my The Beyond.
Appropriative thinking requires close reading, while writing closely can be unbearably tedious: How a differentiation of view is justifiable immanently. What is truth in reading?
I add another kind of theory of truth to the lot: hermeneutical truth. Maybe all of the other theories can be found to gel in that, a hermeneutic of reading. Maybe Gadamer wins after all.
Next: “deflationary truth”
Also: This discussion is associated with the “conceptual inquiry” area of gedavis.com.