Saturday, December 09, 2006

Habermas between Metaphysical and Natural Realism


Habermas’s recent work in epistemology has been marked by a decisive rejection of his earlier epistemic conception of truth in which he understood truth as ‘what may be accepted as rational under ideal conditions’. Arguing that no ‘idealization of justificatory conditions’ can do justice to both human fallibility and the unconditional nature of truth, he has attempted to develop a realistic conception of truth that severs any conceptual link between truth and justification while respecting the epistemic relevance of justification for ascertaining the truth. But realizing this second goal has proved elusive for Habermas because he veers too close to a form of metaphysical realism in his epistemology. By contrast, Hilary Putnam’s recent turn to what he calls ‘natural realism’ is more successful in articulating a form of realism that, in taking its leave of an epistemic conception of truth, still manages to keep its distance from metaphysical realism.

from here

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is bullshit, in the typical publish-or-perish sense of rhetoric for the C.V. If a conception of truth is relative to conditions of rationality, then it's a discursive conception, not an "epistemic conception". There's no "decisive rejection" of his epistemic conception of truth, because realism requires an epistemic conception of truth. To claim that Habermas "severs any conceptual link between truth and justification" shows that the author hasn't really read the "truth and justification" section of "Further Clarifications on Communicative Action" in On the Pragmatics of Communication, nor Truth and Justification. Besides, one can't logically "respect[] the epistemic relevance of justification for ascertaining the truth" without a conceptual link between truth and justification. Furthermore, it's implausible to acknowledge Habermas' appreciation for fallibilism in justification while also claiming he "veers too close to a form of metaphysical realism." To say that Hilary Putnam is more successful is only to say that the author doesn't understand Habermas, because Habermas clearly understands Putnam ("Some Further Clarifications"), while Putnam doesn't understand Habermas (Collapse of the fact / value dichotomy).

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