Understanding Truth


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The Why Versus the How

The book closes with an attempt to incorporate important insights of Tarski and Kripke into a broadly deflationary conception of truth, as we ordinarily understand it in natural language and use it in philosophy.


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Keywords: Kripke , Liar's paradox , logical consequence , modeling truth , philosophy of language , predicates , skepticism , Sorites paradox , Tarski , truth , vague predicates. Forgot password?

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Search my Subject Specializations: Select Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. To a significant level, the same might be true for explanations in disciplines of anatomy and physiology. However, when we come to social science disciplines such as sociology, anthropology, or psychology, their explanations cannot and do not claim for higher degree of objectivity, certainty, or universality.

Although this can be common for all the disciplines, social sciences differ enormously from natural sciences in terms of the way they look at reality, part of the reality they choose to study, and the kind of problems they choose to address. The reality that natural sciences want to study is devoid of human aspects such as conscience and subjectivity. On the other hand, social sciences involve study of human consciousness and subjectivity at the level of both observed and the observer.

It includes the study of belief, values, intentions, and meanings attributed to human actions within a culture. The logic of explanation for an apple falling from a tree might hold good for a man falling from the 14 th floor as well but that is obviously not a sufficient explanation and that is not the explanation we talk about in social sciences. Natural sciences assume a necessary disconnect between the process of studying and the object that is being studied.

The reality that is studied or the phenomenon that is observed is considered external to the process of studying. They are called objects of study. An object is passive and inert with respect to the process happening around it.

On Truth, Mystery and the Limits of Human Understanding

A subject by definition has subjectivity, consciousness, or an inner cognitive process. A subject connotes an active reception of any external process, with an agency. There is every possibility of the observed being influenced by the presence of an observer and vice versa. For the reasons cited above, the approaches and methods used are vastly different between natural and social sciences.

In natural sciences, a new observation is often explained through preexisting axioms, laws, or theories. In other words we deduce our explanations from a known fact. Figure 1 indicates one such typical deduction. In social sciences however we do not have any such invariant laws or theories that hold good over time and across all societies. Hence, we cannot fall back on any such laws to deduce an explanation for a new observation. Instead we try to collect a large number of similar observations in which a particular explanation is holding good and hence arrive at an explanation which would probably hold good for newer observations.

In other words, we continuously induct newer observations to a body of evolving explanation to arrive at a relatively more robust explanation for a set of related observations [ Figure 2 ].

Truth (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

However, this explanation can never qualify as a theory or a law as there is always a possibility that a new observation can disprove the explanation that was developed. This compels us to alter or refine the explanation so as to incorporate this particular new observation and so on. Over the years of their existence, through induction, social sciences have arrived at explanations of varying degrees of robustness for different social phenomena. Hence quite a number of observations are explicable using these explanations. However, as the reality studied is dynamic and varying across societies and time, there is always a need for increasingly refined, altered, or nuanced explanations.

In the foregoing pages, we looked at what constitute knowledge and that there could be different forms of knowledge. Social science is often concerned with particular forms of knowledge which cannot be subjected to the test of truth and falsehood.

On Truth, Mystery and the Limits of Human Understanding

Many problems in public health too involve understanding and dealing with such behaviors or decisions. Social sciences research in health, and thus aim more to understand such behaviors and decisions in practical life with implications on health. Source of Support: Nil. Conflict of Interest: None declared. Their systems of surveillance and assessment no longer required force or violence, as people learned to discipline themselves and behave in expected ways.

Foucault was fascinated by the mechanisms of prison surveillance, school discipline, systems for the administration and control of populations, and the promotion of norms about bodily conduct, including sex. He studied psychology, medicine and criminology and their roles as bodies of knowledge that define norms of behaviour and deviance.

Understanding Addiction - Truth of Addiction

This is why state-centric power struggles, including revolutions, do not always lead to change in the social order. But he has been hugely influential in pointing to the ways that norms can be so embedded as to be beyond our perception — causing us to discipline ourselves without any wilful coercion from others. Contrary to many interpretations, Foucault believed in possibilities for action and resistance. At a the level of practice, activists and practitioners use methods of discourse analysis to identify normative aid language that needs more careful scrutiny, and to shape alternative framings.

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