| an epistemic sense of truth
part 5 of “Habermas and Truth”
gary e. davis
The “notion of truth” is “Janus-faced” or (apparently) discursive (363). Apparently, “The rain continues” is true because an idealization of the conditions of justification can be successfully applied to the assertion. Yet, the indication done by ‘the’ is context-specific, and ‘rain’ and ‘continues’ are English terms; so, the conditions of truth for the valid assertion of that proposition are contextual, and the indicated state of affairs is local to the assertion.
Does this mean that a true proposition is one that could be justified in any context? Or is it just that a true proposition is always also interpretable as claiming for itself justiability in principle in any context? Assertion of ‘The rain continues’ is not justified in any context, but it’s justified when it’s true. True is not the same as possibly true; justified is not the same as could be justified, though true-in-any-context entails justifiable in any context. But how many true statements are true in any context? Isn’t it intuitively plausible that truth has contextuality so commonly that this possibility of truth claims belongs to the phenomenon, the “notion,” itself?
Norms may be valid under ideal conditions, so they’re rational under ideal conditions (and under less than ideal conditions). But norms aren’t true or false, so how can what is true be what may be accepted under rational conditions? Validity is what may be accepted as rational under ideal conditions. One’s self-representations are valid if they’re genuine; presumably, anyone would accept that self-representations are valid if they’re genuine. Self-representations may be accepted as rational under ideal conditions (as well as less than ideal conditions). So, it’s not the case that ‘true’ means “what may be accepted as rational under ideal conditions.”
JH refers to his orientation now as a regulative idea, but regulative of what? Tendencies toward contextualism? I reject Rorty’s contextualist extremism, but contextuality seems to belong to truth itself (relativity doesn’t necessarily imply relativism), such that regulating “out” what genuinely belongs to truth would be invalid (e.g., an overbearing demand for unconditionality).
Yes, but context transcendence doesn’t require unconstrained idealization (unconstrainedness will soon become a focus), at least because interest in truth is always for persons (finite beings) in finite horizons (ultimately, evolving!); but also, perhaps, because there is no instance where we need unconditionality, even when it’s feasible (e.g., physics, which happens to break down at its extremes of universality [undecidability between supersymmetry and there being multiversality] and quantum level [untestability of string theory]). So, an “orientation toward truth” that idealizes structural conditions of argumentation, while JH claims that truth itself is acceptability under idealized conditions, looks like truth and justification are being defined in terms of each other, now via an assimilation of justification to an idealized conception of truth that has been earlier assimilated to an idealized conception of justification. [Could it be that the fusion of horizons is like a concordance of form and content in the evolutionarity of concording? In such a conception, there is no unconditionality available to unconstrained idealization beyond some kind of generative insight into Our evolutionarity, again re: the second half of "philosophy after Habermas."]
...this seems to pertain to a claim upon the prospects for discourse ethical universalization, rather than anything about the content of form, in this case: truth (or a relationship between substantive truth to processual justification [that’s not assimilating truth to justification]). Indeed, JH’s explication of his point here leads to a footnote (367, ftn. 50) related to the ideal speech situation as revised in “Remarks on Discourse Ethics,” which pertains (like discourse ethics itself) to any validity claim. JH is not distinguishing what pertains to truth specifically (universalistic or not), but rather what pertains to valid discourse generally, because this is the modality of Rorty’s objection to universalistic justification, which JH is addressing at this point.
Yes, but true propositions normally arise relative to action-oriented interests that don’t need such resistance, except inasmuch as one seeks truth relative to relative unconstraint, e.g., scientifically [where, parameters are always specified, like a universality of specified constraint, but which is never closed to revision; an ultimacy of provisionality is never annuled, as the horizon of corroborative wager is never known].
But we hold to that “what” because it has been determined to be true (i.e., accurate enough), not because it has already been defended or anticipates defense. (Reliabilist epistemology is about this: the truth-conducive practices that have efficaciously built up confidence in belief). The conditions of holding good are very usually conditions of holding well-enough given that almost no situation corresponds to the controlled conditions of standard determinations of what “is” relative to standardized conditions of determination.
A discursive “proposition is true,” etc., but this doesn’t pertain to true propositions normally.
The demanding conditions are hardly ever needed, let alone available, and yet there may so much of one's world that is reliablly presumed for orientation of action or dependent on belief that is accurate enough.
So, here truth is not assimilated to justification. But then, truth is never in a neighborhood of unconstrained unconditionality. The determination of the truth of P is a matter of finding that the truth conditions are satisfied (or even satisfying the truth conditions for the sake of the proposition’s efficacy), usually relative to an interest in action in light of that determined truth. As one grows up, discovery of what holds good works; capability for discovery improves with experience. A sense of reliabilist confidence grows with scale of engagement. And sometimes one needs to justify that to others. But the normal actor isn’t first claiming to himself that P is true, then arguing with himself. Even methodic determination or proper inquiry isn’t basically about anticipating justification (except in organizations operating under compliance and accountability standards); it’s about gaining knowledge. Therefore, a later truth claim will imply that truth conditions of P are satisfied.
But the decisive interpretations happen at the determination of truth that backs contested warrant, not the argumentative justification of interpretation post facto. Evidence may serve in discovery as reason for determining that P is true, but this precedes claims about what has been discovered or determined.
That pertains to arguing the claim to truth, not determining that P is true.
...presumes a passage from the ordinary domain of true propositions (their reliabilist determination and employment) to discursive inquiry into the place of truth in knowledge or the growth of knowledge. This is like a passage from (1) a well-lived life that pertains to any mature, educated person to (2) specialized organizational domains, like research enterprises. No wonder, then, that discourse-theoretical explanation apparently...
...because the formalization of inquiry isn’t a usual requirement in the lifeworld for determining that a proposition is true. Human abilities may be educated toward competence in systematic investigation, critical analysis, etc., but ordinary truth doesn’t require “discourse-theoretical explanation.”
Yet the lifeworld isn’t based in discourses (JH obviously appreciates), while truth is based in the lifeworld. But JH is disattuned to how this goes, in his present discourse (based in a discursive background reading of how the lifeworld goes, a reading that looks very coarse).
...supplementary regarding what’s practically relevant for modernized adults, more interested in individuation than socialization, I would argue—or more interested in socialization through individuation (e.g., the curious child who becomes the self-motivated learner) than individuation through socialization (e.g., the conformist individual). We should theorize from thriving in order to preserve appreciation of potential in conventionality, as a matter of principle. In a complex society, we are theorizing everyone’s fate: opportunity to flourish in complex society, in principle—as a matter of a model—flourishing and having flexible perspectivity, beyond the behavioral certainties of conventional life.
Not only is this not the case, but JH hasn’t even argued yet that this is the case. Up to now, he has not been writing about any unconditionality of truth predication in propositional assertion; rather, he’s been arguing about a relationship of given true propositions to idealized conditions of discourse (i.e., tending toward assimilation of ordinary truth into a theoretical scale of discursive testing). The focus on unconditionality may be coming up (as the reader is now close to his essay section on “The Pragmatic Conception of Truth”), but JH’s “grammatical fact” is at this point merely a validity claim, not an argumentative summation.
Great question. But it presumes a discursive relevance of a given truth claim which doesn’t ordinarily belong to the lifeworld determination of propositional accuracy or other accordances with the meaning of ‘true’. [Habermas tends to collapse the distance between lifeworld and formalized inquiry, as happens three years later in his response to Putnam, which I’ve discussed in detail. His sense of discourse of application unduly constrains the hermeneutics of appropriation that would adequately respect the rich distance between living well and inquiring highly.] We might go further into the lifeworld than JH has done, before we fly off to the heights of discourse theory (but I’m not going to write my way into that before closing this discussion of JH’s sense of truth and justification).
Be fair. © 2014, g. e. davis