“Argumentation remains the only available medium of ascertaining truth since truth claims that have been problematized cannot be tested in any other way. There is no unmediated, discursively unfiltered access to the truth conditions of empirical beliefs. There is no unmediated, discursively unfiltered access to the truth conditions of empirical beliefs. After all, only the truth of unsettled beliefs is subject to question – beliefs that have been roused from the unquestioned mode of functioning practical certainties. Although we cannot sever the connection of truth and justification, this epistemically unavoidable connection must not be turned into a conceptually inseparable connection in the form of an epistemic concept of truth.” (TJ: italics in the original).
This is without doubt a very crucial passage for understanding Habermas’ transition from an epistemic conception of truth to a more ontologically tuned conception of truth. However, I shall mention one key problem with this passage. The passage implies that if we had unmediated access to the truth conditions of empirical beliefs we could have been able circumvent argumentation. However, this is misleading. The reason for argumentation being the sole medium of ascertaining is not just epistemic; it is also “discursive.” The latter follows from Habermas’ rejection of the notion of truth as ‘evidence’ (see his critique of Husserl in OPSI). The game of truth cannot circumvent the game of argumentation because the “truth conditions” of beliefs can support beliefs only by being converted into “reasons.” Truth game is squarely located within the space of reason and since the space of reason is sustained by the game of argumentation even if we had unmediated access to the truth conditions we could not have avoided the game of argumentation. That’s why the problem of bringing “propositions/statements” face to face with the world itself is such an issue for Habermas.