By Nicholas Unwin (auth.)
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Extra resources for Aiming at Truth
Our quarrel is only with a certain way of construing belief and assertion; and our view is that once these concepts have been reconstructed, we may carry on more or less as before; and that the cognitive norms that apply to these revised concepts do so for essentially the reasons that they were originally thought to apply to the unreconstructed versions. The norms that forbid certain cognitive attitudes thus derive from those that demand certain other cognitive attitudes. Our scepticism is, to that extent, parasitic on an underlying non-scepticism.
In practice, a systematic replacement of extensional beliefs and assertions by their intensional versions should enable us to carry on more or less as before. Of course, it means that our conversations with Martians and grue-users will now have unexpected rules; but since we seldom converse with them, this is not much of an imposition! Our policy may be philosophically radical, but is perfectly liveable. No doubt, there remains something highly unintuitive about this proposal, but there are important advantages to be gained.
That is to say, we would be aiming extensionally in the wrong direction. Yet this can seem an odd conception of what it is to aim at truth. In so far as we are still trying to get things right (albeit with a total lack of success), it may be insisted that we clearly are ‘aiming at truth’ in the only sense that anyone could ever be likely to mean. The idea that truth is some sort of hidden target, one that we are expected to ‘aim’ at in a way that can only be judged to be successful or not from an external standpoint, is surely a confused idea that is bound to lead to an artificial sort of scepticism.