Do We Live in an Era That is Post-Truth?

Adam Zyglis / Buffalo News

-John Searle

Suppose you are interested in the most recent presidential election then you are struck by the fact that Trump won Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin and these states which were won by the Democrats in the previous election were sufficient to give him the victory. If those states had gone to Clinton she would have won the overall election. Notice that I have said all that without any metalinguistic claims.  I just talked about states, votes and the victory, but the principle of disquotation has the consequence that all of these are equivalent to claims about truth. The true statement that Trump won the states of Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin given certain true statements about the number of electoral votes in each of these places and true statements about the constitutional requirement that to be elected president a candidate must when more electoral votes than the other candidates, together implies the true statement that if Clinton had won these state she would have won the election.

The point is that for people in possession of a language rich enough to make metalinguistic statements about truth, there are not two sets of interests: one in truth and one in reality for true statements are by definition about reality.

The point has to be stated precisely. I am not saying that anyone who could be interested in reality must have the possibility of making true statements. That is obviously false. My dog has all sorts of interests in the real world, but he has no language in which to make true statements. It is possible to be interested in reality and not have the possibility of making true statements. But for a creature that does have a language capable of representing reality and thus capable of true or false statements an interest, in reality, implies an interest in truth. Thus for such a creature, we could never live in an era that was post-truth because such an era would be post reality. If as an adult human you are interested in anything at all then you have a deep commitment to truth. For that reason, truth can never become obsolete.

Read the full article here.

Cite as: John Searle, Do we live in an era that is ‘Post-Truth’?, 1 Jour. of Pol. Th. & Philo. 87-95(2017).

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.