Monday, January 29, 2007

Show me

I find conclusive evidence for the claim that there is a new Philosophers' Carnival here. If you don't believe me, click on the link and see for yourself. (Told you.)

1 comment:

01010100 said...

What is a lie to a pragmatist?


Pragmatists, idealists (at least some), mystics, postmodernists, and various anti-positivists generally assert that truth is not a matter of confirming some alleged facts, "out there", in an objective, empirical world. There are various differences between these groups, but it doesn't seem unreasonable to suggest that they uphold some version of William James concept of pragmatism, that truth always has some relation to usefulness, whether in regards to sciences, social sciences, humanities, etc.

The Cash Value of Truth model, has of course been criticized, and not without reason. While in some contexts--say medicine--utility would seem to be critical (--testing the functionality of a drug, say)--in others, whether history or law, or various social sciences, any modifications of the actual facts to fit some ideology might conceivably result in highly unethical situations. Bertrand Russell noted this problem in regards to Dewey's pragmatist ideas. IF the pragmatist's goal is to create a harmonious community, or even harmonious classroom, or well-integrated self, then it would seem the pragmatist might "shape" facts (say historical, or economic facts, or even literary narratives) to fit his pedagogy. And if the end result was a harmonious community and well-balanced individuals, then pragmatists would grant, it would seem, that the right thing had been done. And other sorts of similar absurdities, possibly machiavellian or Orwellian, resulting from pragmatism (or any ideology where truth is solely a matter of functionality) across the board could be realized.

What is a lie to a Darwinian materialist?

This presents the same sorts of issues, in a different fashion: it could be quite useful, genetically speaking, for say a mafioso to lie (or commit perjury) , while on trial, to save himself (and his family, cronies, business etc.). Imagine Guido lies about his guilt pertaining to a murder trial (as of course many people accused of crimes do) and then goes to trial, but is acquitted, and in effect gets away with it, returns to his warehouse, and continues with his business, advances the gene pool a bit more via kids with Velma, etc. What does the Darwinian say? Guido succeeded by lying; thus lying could in many instances be a positive trait.