The problem of getting at the truth…

Interesting reflection by Barney Rowan on the mediated nature of truth telling in Northern Ireland, in which ‘official truths’ are often constructed through negotiation, or battles in the press. He quotes Hugh Orde:

…it must involve “third ways of dealing with history and that is something around storytelling… explanation, understanding and acknowledgement. If it means people have to acknowledge that we could have done things better across the piece, I think that’s a good thing”.

Because there are so many vested interests in each ‘competing truth’ winning out over rivals, we tend to see a plethora of ad hominem (ie non) arguments, over who is claiming what. Verifiable facts rarely emerge, one way or the other.

Jerry Fodor’s reflections on the semantic nature of truth notes that:

It is argued that, since we must always approach the world with some or other theory in mind, we couldn’t, even in principle, know about how the facts are “in and of themselves”, independent of our theories.

But that:

…it is precisely the virtue of Scientific Realism that it shows how we can come to know about facts that aren’t theory-dependent. It is the main point of Scientific Realism that only their correspondence to theory-independent facts would explain why our theories are successful.