The Cambridge/UNC-Chapel Hill/etc. prof best known for his neo-Humean meta-ethics joins Mark, Wes, and Dylan to discuss his book On Truth (2018).
What is truth? A pragmatist like William James wants to define truth in terms of the procedures we actually undergo to confirm a claim. Simon instead buys into a performative/deflationist view of truth. The notion can’t be defined in general, but we can describe how it works in a specific domain, like how we judge the truth of scientific claims is different than for ethical or aesthetic claims. Still, none of those domains are going to be “just a matter of opinion.” We acknowledge that some people are qualified to make judgments in a particular area through their acumen and expertise with relevant procedures, and those are the people (and procedures) that we regard as reliable sources of truth, even though we’re not defining truth as whatever it is they determine.
This is the payoff for two episodes of threshing through the jungles of analytic philosophy, as Simon’s book leads us systematically through the correspondence, coherence, pragmatist, and deflationist theories of truth. Then in the second half (both of his book and our discussion) we focus on those domain-specific procedures, making connections to Hume, Kant, Peirce, Collingwood (a new one to us), and others.
Continued on part 2, or get the full, unbroken Citizen Edition now. Citizens also get access to Wes’s discussion on Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five.
Image by Solomon Grundy.