Pur Autre Vie

I'm not wrong, I'm just an asshole

Saturday, June 30, 2018


I might mention that my previous two posts maybe shed a little light on what philosophical pragmatists are getting at. (To be clear what follows is just an analogy.) Imagine two true facts about the world. One of them, if publicized, will tend to increase the public's perception of the frequency of police brutality, the other will tend to reduce it. Depending on the public's existing perceptions, one of these facts is going to make the public better-informed and the other will make the public worse-informed, and yet by traditional measures both facts are true.

This might motivate a search for a richer conception of truth, one that takes into account the actual effect of believing the statement in question. Of course you don't want to go overboard and start reporting falsehoods "in service of a higher truth" or anything like that, I am simply observing that assessing the truth of statements in terms of their effect on the accuracy of your understanding of the world is not the craziest idea that has ever occurred to someone.

(Again, this is really by way of analogy only, pragmatism is to my knowledge not about overall social awareness of things but rather operates on an individual level.)


Blogger Zed said...

I don't think pragmatism is quite the right frame here. Pragmatism would be "things that make the public change its mind in ways that I would find convenient." This is a more complicated (and I think essentially linguistic) question. An anecdote is rarely a pure anecdote; normally it's in service of an implicit argument. Strictly speaking an anecdote never strongly supports or undermines an argument since it's a study with a sample size of 1; so if you want to judge its appropriateness you need to go back to whether the underlying argument is valid. (I guess alternatively you could say that one should never report anecdotes but this seems a futile position.)

7:24 PM  

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