By Nicholas Unwin (auth.)
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Additional resources for Aiming at Truth
2 An argument against truth-aiming The question still remains, however, whether assertions really do aim at truth in the sense expounded in TN and TN’. And even if the answer is ‘yes’, we still need to ask whether we really should invest our ordinary utterances with full-blooded assertoric force, so understood. It may seem clear that both answers should be affirmative, but this is not obviously so. As mentioned, it is epistemological considerations that cause the problem. Traditional sceptical arguments are powerful and, if sound, imply that truth is cognitively inaccessible.
The idea that we could attribute to Martians genuine beliefs, and yet not care at all should they be (according to us) false – that is contrary to what we believe to be true – is a very counterintuitive idea, and will require elaborate defence. Yet if we only expect Martian beliefs to aim at truth 34 Aiming at Truth in the intensional sense, then we lose the most obvious reason for demanding unrestrictedness – for remember how it looks to someone, from within her own perspective, to ‘aim at truth’.
But then it is a mistake to demand a guarantee where it is logically impossible to obtain one. This does not mean that it is irrational to expect future experience 44 Aiming at Truth to conform to the past. F. Strawson, likewise: [T]he rationality of induction, unlike its ‘successfulness’, is not a fact about the constitution of the world. 13 It is not that it is impossible for induction to break down, if by ‘impossible’ we mean ‘logically impossible’. To demand otherwise is akin to demanding that induction not really be induction, but rather deduction in disguise.