Tarski's Truth ...

Thu, 16 Dec 1993 09:59:51 CST

J. McCreery presents, I think, a straw-man version of positivism and the
role therein of the semantic conception of truth. When we heard the
space shuttle had blown up, many of us gasped, "Can this be true?" All
we wanted to know is had the event in fact occurred. The proposition
that it had in fact blown up proved true, despite our initial
incredulity. Now, social construction and thick description and all
that have their place, but they ought not to mislead us into thinking
that what we want to come out of the black box is other than true; and
we ought not be misled by junk about various "sorts of truth" in any but
a poetic sense. Truth is a property that scientists are bound to want
in their propositions. Trying to determine whether such and such a
proposition is true is where the evaluation comes in. If anyone wants
to produce statements that are not true, s/he is doing something other
than science. Science does not claim to get at the absolute *Truth*; it
is simply our best way of trying to find out what is true. For
truth-seeking, we have no alternative to an unending interaction of
evidence and reason. Giving up on Absolute Truth gives us our best
access to plain old truth, which is what science modestly seeks. --Bob