Objectivity and Ethics

Some philosophers, including the present writer, accept what I call the rational model. According to this model, we should accept (or reject) a statement solely based on evidence. Insofar, intuition, gut feelings, the pronouncements of horoscopes, gurus, or of deities, and the like, dont count as bases for accepting or rejecting statements. Evidence for a statement consists of statements that support the given statement. We present evidence in good arguments. A statement is what we assert typically by means of a declarative sentence. Statements are the bearers of truth and falsity. They are what is true or false, although we commonly extend the usage to items that take statements as their contents, such as beliefs, opinions, judgments, ideas, and the like. Evidence is, thus, the sole determiner of what we accept as true and reject as false on the rational model. A good argument is valid, sound, or inductively strong. You can see that evidence comes in varieties and degrees of strength. A discussion of the criteria for an arguments goodness belongs in another setting.

When we think of outstanding users of the rational model, science immediately comes to mind. We tend to think of science as a cut-and-dried affair, consisting of statements whose truth evidence completely determines. Thats what makes science objective and certain, we think. The rational model comes into play most dramatically to resolve scientific disputes, such as over the correct explanation of combustion its not the release of phlogiston but the combination with oxygen; and the correct location of the earth its not at the center of the universe but in orbit around a minor star nowhere near the center of the universe, supposing the universe had a center. But can we use the rational model in ethical matters? If we could, we would view ethics as being just as objective and certain as science.

Unfortunately, for those who like smooth views of things, the view of science just described is not wholly accurate: it ignores the histories of the sciences. Luck, uncertainties, wild guesses, foolish pronouncements, even mystical insights, and often painful groping after truth constitute an integral part of the histories of the sciences, as do heated debates and controversies that, while ongoing, seem to have no end in sight. Scientists once disputed over the divisibility of atoms; early failed to distinguish between atoms and molecules; disputed over the existence of an élan vital that allegedly distinguishes living from nonliving things; and pondered the mysteries of an orgonic psycho -sexual energy supposedly capable of concentration in orgone boxes. Nothing has changed. Today, psychologists dispute about whether heredity, environment, or choice determines homosexuality; cognitive scientists debate the possibility of creating human intelligence artificially; and physicists dispute over the structure of matter, for example, whether the fundamental entities are stringlike. Heres what Sheldon Glashow, a Nobel Prize winning physicist, has to say about string theory:

Im particularly annoyed with my friends, the string theorists, because they cannot say anything about the physical world. Some of them are convinced in the uniqueness and beauty, and therefore truth, of their theory, and since it is unique and true it obviously includes a description of the entire physical world. It does not seem to them to be necessary to do any experiments to prove such selfevident truth; to they begin to attack the value of experiments from this end — a highly theoretical, abstract, mathematical end . . . 1

The sciences have products: the statements at the moment largely confirmed by evidence and widely accepted by scientists. They also have histories: the ways that scientists generated the products. We come to the view of science as an objective, cut-and-dried affair consisting of certainties only by looking at the current products of the sciences and ignoring their histories. This is the view of science as a solid thing, rather like an unfinished building made up of solid parts, like Lego® construction pieces, that scientists discover and fit into place.

For those of us who consider both sciences products and its history, however, science looks a lot less solidmore like a moving cloud teased by winds: at the center, comparative stability, however temporary; at the periphery, shifting, changing patterns, and always movement, and nobody can predict what will happen, what the eventual pattern will be. Heres Glashow, again:

Standard theory [i.e., current physics] tells us that we shall see standard things. We shall see the sorts of jets and other curious phenomena that we see at lower energies, simply extrapolated to higher energies. We will be able to test the theory of quantum chromodynamics and the electroweak theory better. But our standard theory predicts standard results. What the real theory — the theory that is not todays standard theory — says, we simply dont know. Therell be new forces perhaps, therell be new particles, therell be things that have been variously called glints, or other strange names, by some of my theoretical colleagues. We cant predict exactly what theyll be. . . . Or perhaps therell be something else that I cant tell you, because it is, after all, a surprise. Thats the name of the game. 2

The center of science consists of statements largely confirmed by existing evidence and widely accepted by scientists; its periphery consists of ongoing research, hypotheses, sometimes conflicting hypotheses, some evidence, but often conflicting evidence, and sometimes a lack of evidence. But, as in any cloud, the center can change: what once was the center can later become part of the periphery or disappear altogether. Even sciences center thus has no immunity from change as evidence grows. Newtons physics constituted the center of science for around two hundred years, to be replacedat least at the center – – by relativity theory, in the early twentieth century. Nor is relativity theory immune from change, either. Likening nature to mystery books and scientists to their mystery-solving readers, Albert Einstein and Leopold Infeld note that:

This great mystery story is still unsolved. We cannot even be sure that it has a final solution. . . . in spite of all the volumes read and understood we are far from a complete solution, if, indeed, such a thing exists at all. At every stage we try to find an explanation consistent with the clews already discovered. Tentatively accepted theories have explained many of the facts, but no general solution compatible with all known clews has yet been evolved. Very often a seemingly perfect theory has proved inadequate in the light of further reading. New facts appear contradicting the theory or unexplained by it. The more we read, the more fully do we appreciate the perfect construction of the book, even though a complete solution seems to recede as we advance. 3

In science, evidence has the last word: no scientific statement is sacrosanct; no scientific theory is sacred. Thats why the sciences count as among the more successful usersnot the only ones or necessarily the best onesof the rational model. Those who believe that ethics lacks objectivity use the view of science as an objective, cutand- dried affair consisting of certainties to contrast with ethics. They point to the many ethical problems, such as about the rightness or wrongness of abortion, or of euthanasia, that seem mired in never-ending disputes. Ethics, they argue, cant be like science, because problems about the truth or falsity of scientific statements dont become mired in never-ending disputes. Evidence solves the scientific problems once and for all. If we cant use evidence as the basis for accepting or rejecting ethical utterancesand we cantthen ethics cant be objective. Thus, they reject the rational model for ethics and use this as the basis for denying objectivity to ethics.

However, as you just read, plenty of scientific statements have been exactly like currently contentious ethical utterances, for example, the statement that the earth orbits the sun. In 1633, the Inquisition tried and punished Galileo Galilei for advocating the view that the earth orbits the sun. Rene Descartes suppressed his work, Le Monde, on learning of Galileos fate. It wasnt until 1983 that the Catholic Church laid its dispute with Galileo to resta dispute that lasted for over three hundred years. Currently, the statement that human beings evolved through natural selection from more primitive creatures, expressed (in so many words) by Charles Darwin in 1859, continues to be disputed. There are individuals today who believe that the theory of evolution, as applied to human beings at least, is utter rubbish. Compare that to the current turmoil over the morality of abortion. Only those who attend to the products of science and ignore its history could make the mistake of supposing that scientific statements cant be the subjects of disputeseven quite acrimonious disputesthat never seem to end. The stage in a scientific statements history determines whether it is uncontentious. Scientific statements and ethical utterances can equally be capable of being the subjects of disputes, so ethical utterances cant differ from scientific statements in this way.

But in the case of scientific statementsthe argument continueswe come to final decisions to accept them as true or reject them as false, and this does not happen in the case of ethical utterances. Thus, although scientific disputes may seem never-ending, they do end, whereas ethical disputes never end. However, this just isnt so. Most people accept the ethical utterances in List A as true:

List A: Murdering newborn babies is morally wrong. Owning human beings is morally wrong. We should not torture human beings for fun.

Murdering newborn babies is morally wrong. Owning human beings is morally wrong. We should not torture human beings for fun.Whereas, most people reject the ethical utterances in List B as false:

List B: Murder for fun or profit is morally acceptable. It is morally right to exploit weak and helpless human beings. We should use pre-teenage children as workers in the most dangerous jobs. We have come to final decisions about them.

Murder for fun or profit is morally acceptable. It is morally right to exploit weak and helpless human beings. We should use pre-teenage children as workers in the most dangerous jobs. We have come to final decisions about them.You shouldnt read anything into the fact that we write that most people accept the utterances in List A and reject those in List B. The same sort of thing holds for scientific statements: most people accept the statements at the center of science. Theres no such thing as a statement that everybody accepts even that sine qua non of rationality, the law of noncontradiction. We can choose to reject even the law of noncontradiction, for we assume that were free to choose our beliefs and actions, including our actions in choosing how to believe. That means that we can choose to disbelieve the law of noncontradiction. The rational model is a philosophical model of how we choose beliefs, not a psychological one: were not discussing the case in which someone cant control his/her behavior, including his/her choices of beliefs, quite the contrary. We can sometimes be rational, other times irrational, and we can choose each of these sorts of behaviors. Of course, if we choose to disbelieve the law of noncontradiction, were choosing to behave quite irrationally. Our model of rational belief acquisition requires that we assume this freedom to choose. If were not free in this way, then were just like falling rocks, planets, amoebas, frogs, and treesnot behaving on the basis of beliefs, but interacting with our environment on the basis of scientific laws. In which case, this whole discussion makes no sense. The stage of an ethical utterances history determines whether its acceptable to most people. Scientific statements and ethical utterances can be equally capable of being accepted by most people. Consequently, this cant be a way that ethical utterances differ from scientific statements.

Moreover, notice that whether or not a statement is acceptable to many people cant be what makes for a statements truth. Many people have found plenty of nonsense, including utter falsities, to be quite acceptable. Consider the patent falsity that women differ from men in that the former cant reason as well as the latter, or even that women, unlike men, cant reason at all. Lets grant that some scientific statements have been the subjects of disputes and that some ethical utterances have wide acceptance. Even so, science still looks different from ethics to those who reject the objectivity of ethics. They argue that we cant decide to accept (or reject) an ethical utterance, like Abortion is morally right, in the way that we can decide to accept (or reject) a scientific statement, like Energy equals mass times the speed of light squared. In the case of the scientific statementthey argueevidence decides the matter, but theres no such thing as evidence in the case of the ethical utterance, so whether we accept or reject an ethical utterance is just a matter of mere opinion or how we feel about things. But recall how we construe evidence: evidence consists of statements that support a given statement, presented in one or more good arguments. Now consider the utterances in Set A:

SET A Whatever is irreplaceable has value. The life of a human being is irreplaceable. So the life of a human being has value. A human life has a greater value than anything else. The wanton destruction of things that have value is immoral, so the illegal, premeditated taking of a human life is immoral. Since the value of a human life is far greater than the value of money, murder for profit has to be morally unacceptable.

Whatever is irreplaceable has value. The life of a human being is irreplaceable. So the life of a human being has value. A human life has a greater value than anything else. The wanton destruction of things that have value is immoral, so the illegal, premeditated taking of a human life is immoral. Since the value of a human life is far greater than the value of money, murder for profit has to be morally unacceptable.Set A consists of utterances that attempt to present evidence in favor of the ethical utterance that murder for profit is morally unacceptable. Unless were prepared to accept that such behavior always fails, that no instance in which we attempt to present evidence in favor of an ethical utterance can succeed, we have to accept that the utterances of Set A genuinely constitute evidence in favor of an ethical utterance.

Well, some philosophers do argue that no instance in which we attempt to present evidence in favor of an ethical utterance can succeed. But, then, theyll have to explain how we can be so utterly deluded as to suppose otherwise. For, it is undeniable that we think that we do: we engage in presentations of ethical evidence all the time and we accept ethical utterances on the basis of such presentations all the time even ethical relativists argue for moral positions. Moreover, this sort of behavior leads us to success more often than not: ethical reasoning leading to ethical behavior works. Whereas, on the contrary, not engaging in this sort of behavior leads us to failure more often than not. To accept mass delusion in the ethical sphere thus goes against the facts about how we live. We therefore accept that we can present evidence in favor of an ethical utterance.

Notice that whether such presentations convince or fail to convince skirts the issue: they dont try to convince, but to demonstrate truth. Notoriously, demonstrations of truth can fail to convince; and we can be convinced of utter falsities you know that by now, if you didnt before you read this paper. To suppose otherwise is to confuse logic with rhetorica very common confusion.

Return to the utterances in Lists A and B, as well as those in Set A. Weve been calling them utterances, instead of statements, because some people who reject the objectivity of ethics deny that there are any ethical statements and we didnt want to prejudge the issue.4 But now we see how odd this really is. The utterances look, for all the world, like statements. They sure function like statements. Calling those of List A true and those of List B false doesnt seem contrary to the facts, inappropriate, odd, or mysteriousnor a violation of any linguistic or logical rule. It also doesnt seem contrary to the facts, inappropriate, odd, or mysteriousnor a violation of any linguistic or logical ruleto call the utterances in Set A statements. Isnt it true that murdering someone for profit is immoral? And if its not true, then what is it? Morally correct? But why is it morally correct? Because its acceptable to most of us? But why is that? Because its true? Set A consists of statements provided as evidence for the truth of the statement that murder for profit is morally unacceptable. If they succeed and we accept the statement that murder for profit is morally unacceptable as true on their basis, then we do so on the basis of evidence. In this respect, the statements of science and those of ethics are exactly on par.

Does the evidence for a scientific statement differ in kind from the evidence for an ethical statement? You will note that some of the statements of Set A express value judgments, such as The life of a human has value, and Human life has greater value than anything else. But some legitimate scientific statements, used by science to provide evidence, also express value judgments, such as The hypothesis that combustion consists of the chemical combination of oxygen with other substances is good, and The hypothesis that combustion consists of the chemical combination of oxygen with other substances is better than the phlogiston hypothesis. To be sure, the bulk of scientific statements dont express value judgments, and, in the end, this makes for a real distinction between science and ethics. But, then, some statements, used by ethics to provide evidence, dont express values. Consider, Murder is the illegal, premeditated destruction of a human life a legality; and The process that leads to the creation of a human fetus begins with the fertilization of a human egg by a human sperm a fact. It follows that scientific evidence and ethical evidence dont differ in that ethical evidence expresses value judgments but scientific evidence does not. In any case, raising alleged differences between scientific evidence and ethical evidence assumes the point at issue, which is whether we can present evidence in favor of an ethical utterance. However different from scientific evidence ethical evidence may be, it is nonetheless evidence.

Those who claim that the statements of science differ from ethical utterances because evidence decides the truth or falsity of the former, but theres no such thing as evidence for (or against) an ethical utterance, construe evidence in a very peculiar way. We should reject this construal. Common practices, both linguistic and nonlinguistic, tell us something quite different. Just consider our statements in Set A. Inasmuch as we can present evidence in favor of the truth of ethical statements, we accept the rational model for ethics: we can use the rational model to solve problems in ethics. This makes ethics just as objective as science, on this score. The person who argues for the objectivity of science and against the objectivity of ethics on the grounds that we cant use evidence as the basis for accepting or rejecting ethical utterances, but we can do so in the case of scientific statements, makes an error. And, after all, we show why our ethical beliefs are true all the time. So, is it really so odd to suppose that we can do so?

You should be aware that some people try to use real or perceived similarities between ethics and science, like some of those youve just been reading, to turn the tables on science. They argue skeptically against the objectivity of science. But, as Steven Weinberg, physicist and winner of the Nobel Prize, writes:

Among skeptics outside the sciences, there are those multiculturalists who dont so much disagree with the standard cosmological theory as avoid the question of its objective truth. They see modern science as an expression of Western civilization; it works for us, but the belief that the Milky Way is a river in the sky worked for the Mayans, and the belief that the Milky Way is a great canoe rowed by a one-legged paddler worked for the early peoples of the Amazon basin, so who can say that one belief is better than another? I can. 5

By comparing ethics with science, we havent been arguing against the objectivity of science, of course, quite the contrary. Weve been showing that ethics and science are equally objective, not that science and ethics are equally subjective. (I do not know whether Weinberg would agree with our position.) To be sure, ever since the positivists, philosophers tend to distinguish between facts and values. But so do we. We just dont think that the differences between facts and values make values subjective. Like science, ethics has a center and a periphery. The ethical center consists of statementslike those in List Alargely confirmed by existing evidence and accepted by most people. The periphery consists of ongoing research, statements whose truth has not been established, conflicting statements, some evidence, but often conflicting evidence, and sometimes a lack of evidence. The truth of a statement like, Abortion is immoral, has not been established by evidence and neither has the truth of Abortion is moral, and these statements conflict with each other. Not that plenty of people on both sides arent convinced of the truth of their side, but thats a matter of rhetoric and psychology, not logic. Those who focus on currently contentious ethical statements, and ignore ethical statements whose truth is well established, to reject objecti vity and the rational model for ethics, ignore evidence that would show their position to be false. To do so knowingly is to behave irrationally. We behave irrationally when we knowingly accept a self-contradiction as true; or knowingly accept a belief as true (or reject a belief as false) on the basis of a fallacy; or knowingly accept a belief as true (or reject a belief as false) despite evidence to the contrary, that is, despite having evidence that shows the belief to be false (or shows the belief to be true).

Now theres a fear, and quite a legitimate one, at the heart of the rejection of ethical objectivity. Human history overflows with cases of persons, and groups of persons, attempting to impose their ethical beliefs on others, often by force, and sometimes succeeding. There can be no doubt that there have been, and continue to be, moral fascists. And they have all claimed objectivity for their ethics as a basis for their behavior. Fearing ethical fascism, some people tend to fear ethical objectivity, which they identify with moral fascism. But does ethical objectivity entail moral fascism?

The ethical objectivist claims that one set of ethical principles applies to everyone, regardless of time, place, or the circumstance that a person, or group of persons, has beliefs. We may not know what those principles are, of course, but thats a matter for the evidence to decide. From the ethical objectivists claim, it follows that everyones ethical beliefs are not equally good. Some ethical beliefs are better than others: the true ones are better than the false ones. And the true ones deserve more respect than the false ones. But, from the ethical objectivists claim, it does not follow that the true ethical beliefs ought to be imposed on others.

According to the ethical objectivist, persons have an equal right to believe ethically as we choose. The ethical objectivist must believe this because, otherwise, s/he has to accept that others can legitimately try to impose their ethical beliefs on him/her, and, possibly, succeed. But, if so, then the ethical objectivist wouldnt have the right to accept the true ethical beliefs, if they differed from the imposed ones. Insofar, s/he could be forced to accept immoral beliefs, and this wont do. It follows that the ethical objectivist must be tolerant of another persons ethical beliefs, however wrong s/he may think that they are, because s/he respects that persons right to have those beliefs; and the ethical objectivist has to oppose moral fascism because, otherwise, s/he cant hold that persons have an equal right to believe ethically as we choose. For the ethical objectivist, the evidence justifies us in counting, as moral principles: the equality of our right to our ethical beliefs, tolerance for divergent ethical beliefs, and opposition to moral fascism.

Touted for its moral tolerance, ethical relativism stands opposed to ethical objectivism, which it views as intolerant. But can the ethical relativist consistently lay claim to tolerance, respect for divergent ethical beliefs, and opposition to ethical fascism as the ethical objectivist can? No. The relativist believes that everyonesor every groups (I suppress this qualification, in the sequel) — ethical beliefs are equally good. Consequently, if I believed that ethical intolerance is moral, that respect for other persons ethical beliefs is wrong, and that its quite alright, ethically, to try to change other peoples ethical beliefs, if they conflict with mine, the ethical relativist has to accept that Im rightand would have to sanction my actions that were consistent with these beliefs. Whither tolerance and opposition to moral fascism? Of course, if you believe that tolerance is morally good and that ethical fascism must be opposed, morally, then the relativist also has to accept that youre right. Thats just another of the ethical relativists problems.

For the ethical objectivist, tolerance and respect for others ethical beliefs is a matter of equality of rights. The fear of ethical objectivity on the grounds that it entails ethical fascism is quite misplaced.

1 Sheldon Glashow, in P.C.W. Davies and J. Brown, eds., Superstrings: A theory of Everything? (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 182.

2 Sheldon Glashow, in Davies and Brown, eds., Superstrings, 188.

3 Albert Einstein and Leopold Infeld, The Evolution of Physics: From Early Concepts to Relativity and Quanta (New York: A Clarion Book, Simon and Schuster, 1938), 4-5.

4 According to them, because such utterances look like statements, and appear to function like statements, but really have no truth-values, they cant really be statements, they constitute pseudo-statements.

5 Steven Weinberg, Before the Big Bang, The New York Review of Books, Volume XLIV, Number 10, (January 12, 1997), pp. 16-20. P. 20.

Rationality, Objectivity, and Ethics by Lorne A. Smith (lornes@earthlink.net)

Social Engineering & Commodification of Global Culture

Recently, with globalisation, liberalisation, with changing relationship between genders, the resurgence of fundamentalism almost as a convulsive by-product of the shrinking space for cultures to exist in sheltered isolation, I thought we’d look briefly at the commoditisation of global culture. We have touched on a similar article recently. What spurred me on to this aspect was the need to understand some of the political and social dynamics of changing world order, the potential for emergence of new world powers, and possibly devise some tests as to see whether we are really an open society or whether we are living in a culture that is fashioned by a hidden elite.

Social engineering can be used as a means to achieve a wide variety of different results, as illustrated by the different governments and other organizations that have employed it. Social engineering is a concept in political science that refers to efforts to influence popular attitudes and social behaviour on a large scale, whether by governments, large multi-nationals, clandestine special-interest groups, or private groups. In the political arena the counterpart of social engineering is political engineering.

For various reasons, the term has been imbued with negative connotations. However, virtually all law and governance has the effect of changing behavior and can be considered “social engineering” to some extent. Prohibitions on murder, suicide, littering, fraud and rape are all policies aimed at discouraging perceived undesirable behaviors. In British jurisprudence, changing public attitudes about a behaviour is accepted as one of the key functions of laws prohibiting it. The most effective way for “social engineering” is through mass media and especially audio-visual broadcasting. Governments also influence behavior more subtly through incentives and disincentives built into economic policy and tax policy, for instance, and have done so for centuries.

In practice, whether any specific policy is labeled as “social engineering” is often a question of intent. The term is most often employed by the political right as an accusation against anyone who propose to use law, tax policy, or other kinds of state influence to change existing power relationships: for instance, between men and women, or between different ethnic groups. Political conservatives in many countries accuse their opponents of social engineering through the promotion of politcal correctness, insofar as it may change social attitudes by defining “acceptable” and “unacceptable” language or acts.

In his classic political science book, The Open Society and Its Enemies, volume I, Karl Popper examined the application of the critical and rational methods of science to the problems of the open society. In this respect, he made a crucial distinction between the principles of democratic social reconstruction (called ‘piecemeal social engineering’) and ‘Utopian social engineering’

“the piecemeal engineer will adopt the method of searching for, and fighting against, the greatest and most urgent evil of society, rather than searching for, and fighting for, its greatest ultimate good.” For him, the difference between ‘piecemeal social engineering’ and ‘Utopian social engineering’ is “the difference between a reasonable method of improving the lot of man, and a method which, if really tried, may easily lead to an intolerable increase in human suffering. It is the difference between a method which can be applied at any moment, and a method whose advocacy may easily become a means of continually postponing action until a later date, when conditions are more favorable. And it is also the difference between the only method of improving matters which has so far been really successful, at any time, and in any place, and a method which, wherever it has been tried, has led only to the use of violence in place of reason, and if not to its own abandonment, at any rate to that of its original blueprint”

What is Neoliberalism?

1979 was a hallmark year for the destiny of the contemporary Global Order. That was the year of a new modus-operandi: a way of controlling the world as have never been seen, a year in which Margaret Thatcher, the prime-minister of Great Britain implemented a Socioeconomic construct that embraced Economic Social-Darwinism, ousting classical theories of nation-state economics.

According to French Economic analyst Pierre Bourdieu (1998), ‘the neoliberal utopia tends to embody itself in the reality of a kind of infernal machine, whose necessity imposes itself even upon the rulers. They want independent central banks. And they preach the subordination of nation-states to the requirements of economic freedom for the masters of the economy, with the suppression of any regulation of any market, beginning with the labour market, the prohibition of deficits and inflation, the general privatization of public services, and the reduction of public and social expenses’ (p36).

Tracing its conceptual pre-natal origins to Friedrich von Hayek, an Austrian Philosopher-Economist, it sprouted ‘from a tiny embryo at the University of Chicago’ (George, 1999) developing into an expansive doctrinal network of internationally dispersed foundations, institutes, research centers, and academia whose sway today frame the World Order Agenda: the basis of the Washington Consensus.

In 1979, Margaret Thatcher, the British Prime-minister, and a disciple of Hayek, developed this proliferating doctrine into a social and economic program, the justification for whose arbitration she coined under the acronym TINA: There Is No Alternative.

Since then, Neoliberalism has become an intercontinental alliance, forged under the auspices of a historically burgeoning agenda whose traces could be tracked through the joint movements and inclinations of the European banking order, social theorists, and political scientists and luminaries.

Today, its deliberately orchestrated effect on culture is as profound as it is subversive, as compelling as it is timely to examine.

Neoliberalism Globalization as a Cultural Phenomena

Though based on theoretical and economic models, Neoliberalism is a profoundly subtle but deeply transforming Cultural Phenomena. The theoretical and economic surefootedness of neoliberalism lies in its wanton perpetuation and acceptance as a cultural form, perpetrating its doctrine through cunning principles and technologies of Bio-Power.

As Jim McGuigan, an acclaimed sociologist, expresses ‘Theoritical critique of neo-liberal thought and practice is necessary but what captures my attention most, as a culture analyst rather than a political economist, is the command of neo-liberalism over popular consciousness and everyday life’ (2004).

Free trade zones open themselves up to the deluge of millions of products and services and a good proportion of them are cultural, though in a sense not understood hundred years ago.’When all forms of communication become commodities, then culture, the stuff of communications, inevitably becomes a commodity as well. And that is what’s happening. Culture-the shared experiences that give meaning to human life- is being pulled inexorably into the media marketplace, where it is being revamped along commercial lines’ (Rifkin, 2000: 140).

The Culture of Neoliberalism is a brand name culture and the careful bio-political manipulation of these ingredients of human consumption define a transformation of Culture that creates new sanctions on who buys what, who views what, who eats what, leading to an anaesthetized normalization of the human psyche.

‘Psychologist Robert J. Lifton calls this new generation ‘protean’ human beings’they expect to get their software for free but are willing to pay for services and upgrades. They live in a world of seven-second sound bites, have short attention spans, and are less reflective and more spontaneous. In fact, their lives are far more temporary and mobile and less grounded than their parents’.

‘While they are less able to compose a written sentence, they are better able to process electronic data. They are less analytical and more emotive. They think of Disney World and Club Med as the ‘real thing,’ regard the shopping mall as the public square, and equate consumer sovereignty with democracy. They spend as much time with fictional characters on television, film, and in cyberspace as they do with peers in real time’ (Rifkin 2000: 187).

.Further, ‘These protean men and women are less interested in history but are obsessed with style and fashion’Customs, conventions, and traditions, on the other hand, are virtually nonexistent in their fast-paced, ever changing environment’ (Rifkin 2000: 187).Neoliberal Normalizaiton

The eradication of a national, traditional, and spiritual consciousness is critical and part and parcel to the Neoliberalization of the World Order. Insomuch on the surface it is not a bad idea as it destroys nationalism, rigid mores, and religious mandates. However, Neoliberalism intends to replace those old hearth values with new Corporate ones, creating an essential global bourgeoisie that it normalizes through a double speak, selling commercialization and free market choices as democracy.

Neoliberal influence in the media is deeply instilled and resonates concomitantly with not only a Washington Consensus, but also a Mass broadcast consensus, a Hollywood Consensus, and a European Union Consensus. It has systematically organized the structuralization of a carefully engineered rhetoric through a school of policy experts whose messages by the virtue of sheer repetition creates a widespread ‘normalizing’ of the masses, creating the ingredients for a new bourgeoisie.

Pierre Bourdieu with the aid of Loic Wacquant (2001) identifies two types of these experts. ‘First there is ‘the expert’ proper employed in ministries, company headquarters and think tanks whose task is to come up with technical justifications and scenarios for neo-liberal policy decisions that are actually made on ideological rather than spuriously technical grounds.’Second, ‘there is the communication consultant to the prince’, who is not only your run-of the-mill spin-doctor but a much grander type as well. The consultant may be a ‘defector from the academic world entered into the service of the dominant, whose mission is to give an academic veneer to the political projects of the new state and business nobility (p5).

with the aid of identifies two types of these experts. (p5).‘Bourdieu and Wacquant argue that what they call ‘New Liberal Speak’ is a ‘new planetary vulgate’. Certain words are repeated continually, such as ‘globalisation’, ‘flexibility’, ‘governance’, ‘employability’, ‘underclass’, ‘exclusion’, words that are difficult for any of us to avoid using. Other words are not so speakable in polite company, indeed virtually unspeakable, such as ‘class’, ‘exploitation’, ‘domination’ and ‘inequality’ (McGuigan, 2004).

(McGuigan, 2004).Further this Normalization is systematically institutionalized through Socialized Primary and to a greater degree Secondary Public Education, which by the virtue of its ‘factory-production’ setup, becomes a pliable technology of bio-power, its administrators and board of directors obeying Neoliberal systemization, transacting the crucial implementation in exchange for self-preservation.

According to McGuigan (2004) We are witnessing the neo-liberalisation of the public sector itself, not only in cultural institutions in the narrow sense but also in areas such as education’ (p7).

Public Education becomes a highly charged incubator for creating the new consumer, the new citizen, and the new liberal. It becomes a playground, a museum, a repository, and a carnival for brand marketing, its apparatuses of ‘education’ become conventions for a predictable and no-alternative lifestyle based on SAT and Advanced Placement exams produced by independent contractors such as the ‘College Board’.

The process could be summed up as a ‘Bottom-Line-thinking Education Service’ bent on the socialization of the Corporate world and the neoliberal doctrine through viral marketing, rule mandates, ‘legal’ norms, fundamentally anti-introspective, and inherently obedience based, carefully sustained through a psychologically brutal and conniving double speak called ‘Individuality’ and extended through pseudo-ideas promoting ‘Equality’, ‘Tolerance’, ‘Diversity’, and ‘Positive discrimination’.
Cultural Capitalism

The agenda of free-trade is inherently an agenda of ‘Cultural Capitalism’. Using shells of old cultures and vestiges of marginally extant tradition as familiar icons and anti-icons, creating a set of customized ‘diverse’ and ‘international’ homogenously inspired products aimed to generate maximum profit and address a fundamental consumption based solidarity sugarcoated and sold as ‘Equality’, ‘Diversity’ and of course, ‘Globalization’. This is Cultural Capitalism. According to Jeremy Rifkin (2000), (‘Cultural production is beginning to eclipse physical production in world commerce and trade’ (p8); ‘This is the era of cultural capitalism’ McGuigan 2004).

‘By Cultural Capitalism, Rifkin does not just mean the priority of an information and service economy over an industrial economy, he means the commercialization of experience itself’ (McGuigan 2004). All economy and culture are coming closer to the prototype cultural industry of Hollywood, dealing in dreams and meanings. In this ‘Weightless economy’the physical economy is shrinking (Rifkin 2000: 30).

(McGuigan 2004). All economy and culture are coming closer to the prototype cultural industry of Hollywood, dealing in dreams and meanings. In this ‘Weightless economy’the physical economy is shrinking (Rifkin 2000: 30).Additionally, the gatekeeping function of the new Culture Capitalists creates a widespread commercialization of a few brand genres keeping out a larger output of local innovation and originality through high barriers to entry, making these virtually imperceptible and financially bankrupt in the deluge of cultural systemization, hyper-marketing, and iconization of a few select artists.

Pierre Bourdieu observes ‘And yet the world is there, with the immediately visible effects of the implementation of the great neoliberal utopia: not only the poverty of an increasingly large segment of the most economically advanced societies, the extraordinary growth in income differences, the progressive disappearance of autonomous universes of cultural production, such as film, publishing, etc. through the intrusive imposition of commercial values’ (p37).

observes (p37).The implications are decidedly, what McGuigan calls, ‘sinister’. ‘The goal of cultural capitalism is to commodify human relationships tout court, catching them young, cultivating and servicing their every need, deploying something called R (relationship) technologies. As Rifkin (2000: 171) says, ‘Marketing is the means by which the whole of the cultural commons is mined for valuable potential culture meanings that can be transformed by the arts into commodifiable experiences, purchasable in the economy’. Further on, he observes, ‘The culture, like nature, can be mined to exhaustion’ (p247).

The Final Question of Sustainability

Neoliberal Globalization is becoming unsustainable. The pressures being put on the psychological and social constructs of Societies and Communities, and inequity between extant generations, the strange and artificial complexities convoluting the norms of human relationships and exchanges, are gradually intensifying creating both repressed and expressed discontent worldwide.
‘Globus’, a Globalization think tank and policy guild based in Netherlands with Neoliberal underpinnings, even revealed in its December 1999 Berlin Conference on 21st. Century Social Dynamics: Towards the Creative Society , ‘‘ it is of paramount importance to gain legitimacy for this action (corporate globalization) in the world’s civil society directly, via public opinion. It is difficult to give shape and substance to democracy on the international level. Relying on propaganda is risky because it can only produce support for a limited period of time. We can increase the involvement of the public by informing them honestly and by listening carefully to the signals coming from citizens and NGOs’ (p6).

Globalization has become so far reaching and the Corporate doctrine so pervasive that it affects every aspect of life. It has ceased to be pure theory and has become a causality in on itself. The scope of influence is so large in its penetration, its rejection can also be equally expansive, beginning with community advocacy, resource sharing; and burgeoning into larger, more tangible awareness as the inevitable Economic and Social destabilization sets in.

Globus itself posits ‘ Indeed, people have already started to counter-react against effects of primary globalisation: 1. People react against the globalisation of American images and values by stressing their own roots and local identity. 2. People react against the primacy of technology and economy by (re)exploring emotions and spiritual values. 3. People react against universal materialism by stressing non-materialist values. 4. People react against the pooling of governance capacity on the supranational scale by demanding decentralization and decisions nearby 5. People react with fear against alienation caused by the further abstraction inherent in globalisation 6. People react against insecurity by looking for scapegoats, by demanding ‘protection from the terrifying foreign’- be they foreign refugrees, foreign cultures, foreign products or foreign investors. 7. People react against ecological degradation by formulating alternative values and action programmes in the sustainable development paradigm.’ (p9)

This highly charged lifestyle has a rate of quick burnout, and destroys the fundamental solicitude required by human beings to meaningfully process experiences. The generation born after 1980 shows the excruciating signs of wear and tear, the psychological world of ‘options’ taking an immense toll on experiential metabolism. Suicide rates, codification of all forms of communication have created a frightening apathy. Creating virtual slaves out of an entire generation brainwashed through the last iota of perception to be model servants within the new machine.

Jeremy Rifkin (2000) comments, ‘If the capitalist system continues to absorb large parts of the cultural realm into its sphere in the form of commodified cultural products, productions, and experiences, the risk is very real that the culture will atrophy to the point where it can no longer produce enough social capital and thus support an economy’ (p245).

comments, (p245).Ironically the only thing that allows Neoliberal Globalization to continue is the vestiges of the old order, the exploitation and re-ornamentation of previous norms, expected to seamlessly blend into the manifestation of the doctrinal new world order.

Pierre Bourdieu (1998) observes, ‘..in reality what keeps the social order from dissolving into chaos, despite the growing volume of the endangered population, is the continuity or survival of those very institutions and representatives of the old order that is in the process of being dismantled, and all the work of all of the categories of social workers, as well as the forms of social solidarity, familiar or otherwise’ (p38).

observes, (p38).In the words of Globus (1999) ‘ community sustainability’ sustaining human communities as valuable systems in their own right. This involves maintaining or enhancing the community’s economic and socio-cultural well-being, its cohesiveness, and the long-term health of the relevant human systems’ (p13)

Alternatives in Sustainability: The Other New World Order

The sustainability of Globalization would necessarily then posit a systemic restructuring of Society along traditional lines, in the sense, promoting order instead of so called ‘normalization’, reason instead of so called ‘spontaneity’. As a cultural phenomena Neoliberalism has eviscerated binding community ties, alienated filial bonds, distorted the capacity to perceive by engineering a mechanized and deliberately repressive public education generating an unprecedented well of apathy and ineptitude.

The sustainability of Globalization would require dismantling these ‘relevant human systems’, especially Education, into a school of disciplined enlightened meritocracy, whose model, discipline, and compassion would shape and further human systems across regions, and the most successful models of such leadership create franchises across the world, promoting Cultural cognizance, resource integration, and Common resolve.

The Culture of the Community is at the very heart of this new sustainability. This culture would be one that combines the choicest attributes of human tradition with a sweeping eye towards a vigorous and long-term modernity. The physical architecture of suburban planning must reflect the vision of the new architects, one of marble and Plexiglas, Classical and Modern. A refining of cultural alternatives in the areas of dining, cinema, and society must craft metropolitan presence within the comfort of a familiar suburbia.

The media that exists currently to bombard the masses with ‘seven second news bites’ about urban molestations, rapes, clichUand rehearsed ‘political news commentary’, and soft-porn must be governed and slowly eschewed out of its effete content and replaced with innovative programs representing enthusiastic depictions of genuine cultural multiplicity, popularization of research, and a use of language that makes introspection (which still exists in plenty, merely commodified and repressed) a passionate and constructive outlet for making discoveries, rediscoveries, and innovating.

This call for a New Novus Ordo Seclorum must be answered by a breed of highly efficient, brilliantly cultivated, meticulously educated, and intense body of enlightened leaders without ideologies or religion, handpicked from the current generation pool, who would through specializations in banking, finance, media, policy, government, and entrepreneurship resources systematically create footholds in strategic human systems and control sectors guiding the destiny of this era under a new bold flagship.
As with the so called ‘Neoliberal Revolution’ which before 1979 was widely laughed at as ‘Utopia’, this too, it may be surmised, be a palpable Social model in a matter of time.


Bourdieu, P.& L. Wacquant, 2001. NewLiberal Speak- notes on the new planetary vulgate, Radical Philosophy 105, January-February, pp 2-5.

Bourdieu, P. (1998). The essence of neoliberalism. Le Monde Diplomatique

C. f. (1999, Dec 6). Primary globalisation, secondary globalisation, and the sustainable development paradigm-opposing forces in the 21st. century. Globus, Retrieved Nov 27, 2005, from http://www.tilburguniversity.nl/globus/.

Gamble, A., 1994 [1988], The Free Economy and the Strong State- The Politics of Thatcherism, London: Macmillan.

Gamble, A., 2001, Neoliberalism, Capital and Class 75, pp127-134

George, Susan. “A Short History of Neo-Liberalism: Twenty Years of Elite Economics and Emerging Opportunities for Structural Change.” Conference on Economic Sovereignty in a Globalising World. , Bangkok. 24 Mar 1999.

McGuigan, J., 1997, Cultural populism revisited, Golding, P. & M. Ferguson, eds., Cultural Studies in Question, London, Thousand Oaks & New Delhi: Sage, pp 138-54
McGuigan, J. 2003, The Social construction of a cultural disaster- new labour’s millennium experience, Cultural Studies 17.6 pp 669-690

Parts from Neoliberalism Globalization and The Commodification of Global Culture by Alexander Rai

About Truth

Many people talk about truth – it is one of the central and largest topics in philosophy. Truth has been one of the subjects of discussion in its own right for thousands of years. Many faiths claim exclusivity of (revealed) Truth and have modified their language with time so as to take account of absurd inconsistencies in their beliefs. A huge variety of issues in philosophy relate to truth, either by relying on theses about truth, or implying theses about truth.

This article concentrates on the main themes in the study of truth in the contemporary philosophical literature. It attempts to survey the key problems and theories of current interest, and show how they relate to one-another. A number of other entries investigate many of these topics in greater depth. Generally, discussion of the principal arguments is left to them. The goal of this article is only to provide an overview of the current theories.

The problem of truth is in a way easy to state: what truths are, and what (if anything) makes them true. But this simple statement masks a great deal of controversy. Whether there is a metaphysical problem of truth at all, and if there is, what kind of theory might address it, are all standing issues in the theory of truth.

Some anecdotes and attributes about truth:

The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear.
Herbert Agar

Materialism coarsens and petrifies everything, making everything vulgar, and every truth false.
Henri Frederic Amiel

An epigram is a flashlight of a truth; a witticism, truth laughing at itself.
Minna Antrim

Truth sits upon the lips of dying men.
Matthew Arnold

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.
Marcus Aurelius

Not being known doesn’t stop the truth from being true.
Richard Bach

There is no original truth, only original error.
Gaston Bachelard

Truth is a good dog; but always beware of barking too close to the heels of an error, lest you get your brains kicked out.
Francis Bacon

Truth is so hard to tell, it sometimes needs fiction to make it plausible.
Francis Bacon

Truth emerges more readily from error than from confusion.
Francis Bacon

Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority.
Francis Bacon

What is truth? said jesting Pilate; and would not stay for an answer.
Francis Bacon

You never find yourself until you face the truth.
Pearl Bailey

Falsehood is cowardice, the truth courage.
Hosea Ballou

Man can certainly keep on lying… but he cannot make truth falsehood. He can certainly rebel… but he can accomplish nothing which abolishes the choice of God.
Karl Barth

Truth is meant to save you first, and the comfort comes afterward.
Georges Bernanos

As scarce as truth is, the supply has always been in excess of the demand.
Josh Billings

When you want to fool the world, tell the truth.
Otto von Bismarck

A truth that’s told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent.
William Blake

Truth never penetrates an unwilling mind.
J. L. Borges

Truth, though it has many disadvantages, is at least changeless. You can always find it where you left it.
Phyllis Bottome

The truth is always exciting. Speak it, then. Life is dull without it.
Pearl S. Buck

Truth is always strange, stranger than fiction.
Lord Byron

A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.
John Calvin

Truth, like light, blinds. Falsehood, on the contrary, is a beautiful twilight that enhances every object.
Albert Camus

Truth, of course, must of necessity be stranger than fiction; for we have made fiction to suit ourselves.
G. K. Chesterton

The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is.
Winston Churchill

This is the truth: as from a fire aflame thousands of sparks come forth, even so from the Creator an infinity of beings have life and to him return again.
Marcus Tullius Cicero

Truth is so rare that it is delightful to tell it.
Emily Dickinson

God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please – you can never have both.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Truth is beautiful, without doubt; but so are lies.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Truth hurts – not the searching after; the running from!
John Eyberg

There is no truth. There is only perception.
Gustave Flaubert

God is, even though the whole world deny him. Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self-sustained.
Mohandas Gandhi

I worship God as Truth only. I have not yet found Him, but I am seeking after Him. I am prepared to sacrifice the things dearest to me in pursuit of this quest. Even if the sacrifice demanded my very life, I hope I may be prepared to give it.
Mohandas Gandhi

Wisdom is found only in truth.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

First and last, what is demanded of genius is love of truth.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The truth isn’t always beauty, but the hunger for it is.
Nadine Gordimer

Truth, like a torch, the more it’s shook it shines.
William Hamilton

Truth is the torch that gleams through the fog without dispelling it.
Claud-Adrian Helvetius

To attempt seeing Truth without knowing Falsehood. It is the attempt to see the Light without knowing the Darkness. It cannot be.
Frank Herbert

The truth has a million faces, but there is only one truth.
Hermann Hesse

Live truth instead of professing it.
Elbert Hubbard

Proverbs are always platitudes until you have personally experienced the truth of them.
Aldous Huxley

Truth consists of having the same idea about something that God has.
Joseph Joubert

Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne.
James Russell Lowell

All credibility, all good conscience, all evidence of truth come only from the senses.
Friedrich Nietzsche

There is no such thing as a harmless truth.
Gregory Nunn

The truth knocks on the door and you say, go away, I’m looking for the truth, and it goes away. Puzzling.
Robert M. Pirsig

Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t goin’ away.
Elvis Presley

One fool will deny more truth in half an hour than a wise man can prove in seven years.
Coventry Patmore

Truth is polymorphic, multi-functional, multi-layered and with many abstractions.
Dr Rationalist

The absolute truth is the thing that makes people laugh.
Carl Reiner.

People say they love truth, but in reality they want to believe that which they love is true.
Robert J. Ringer

The absolute truth is the thing that makes people laugh.People say they love truth, but in reality they want to believe that which they love is true.Truth does not do as much good in the world as the semblance of truth does evil.
Duc de La Rochefoucauld

The truth. It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and must therefore be treated with great caution.
J. K. Rowling

Search for the truth is the noblest occupation of man; its publication is a duty.
Madame de Stael

The truth will set you free. But first, it will p*ss you off.
Gloria Steinem

If you shut the door to all errors truth will be shut out.
Rabindranath Tagore

It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.
Mark Twain

The words of truth are always paradoxical.
Lao Tzu

Truth is one, but error is manifold.
Simone Weil

Truth provokes those whom it does not convert.
Bishop Thomas Wilson

The logic of the world is prior to all truth and falsehood.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

The truth is at the beginning of anything and its end are alike touching.
Kenko Yoshida

The truth is on the march and nothing will stop it.
Emile Zola

Correspondence theory

Correspondence theories claim that true beliefs and true statements correspond to the actual state of affairs. This type of theory attempts to posit a relationship between thoughts or statements on the one hand, and things or objects on the other. This class of theories holds that the truth or the falsity of a representation is determined in principle solely by how it relates to objective reality, by whether it accurately describes that reality. For example, there is a true distance to the moon when we humans attempt to go there, and this true distance is necessary to know so that the journey can be successfully made.

Correspondence theory traditionally operates on the assumption that truth is a matter of accurately copying “objective reality” and then representing it in thoughts, words and other symbols. More modern theorists have stated that this ideal cannot be achieved independently of some analysis of additional factors. For example, language plays a role in that all languages have words that are not easily translatable into another. The German word Zeitgeist is one such example: one who speaks or understands the language may “know” what it means, but any translation of the word fails to accurately capture its full meaning (this is a problem with many abstract words, especially those derived in agglutinative languages). Thus, the language itself adds an additional parameter to the construction of an accurate truth predicates.

Proponents of several of the theories below have gone farther to assert that there are yet other issues necessary to the analysis, such as interpersonal power struggles, community interactions, personal biases and other factors involved in deciding what is seen as truth.

Coherence theory

For coherence theories in general, truth requires a proper fit of elements within a whole system. Very often, though, coherence is taken to imply something more than simple logical consistency; often there is a demand that the propositions in a coherent system lend mutual inferential support to each other. So, for example, the completeness and comprehensiveness of the underlying set of concepts is a critical factor in judging the validity and usefulness of a coherent system. A pervasive tenet of coherence theories is the idea that truth is primarily a property of whole systems of propositions, and can be ascribed to individual propositions only according to their coherence with the whole. Among the assortment of perspectives commonly regarded as coherence theory, theorists differ on the question of whether coherence entails many possible true systems of thought or only a single absolute system.

Some variants of coherence theory are claimed to characterize the essential and intrinsic properties of formal systems in logic and mathematics. However, formal reasoners are content to contemplate axiomatically independent and sometimes mutually contradictory systems side by side, for example, the various alternative geometries. On the whole, coherence theories have been criticized as lacking justification in their application to other areas of truth, especially with respect to assertions about the natural world, empirical data in general, assertions about practical matters of psychology and society, especially when used without support from the other major theories of truth.

Constructivist theory

Social constructivism holds that truth is constructed by social processes, is historically and culturally specific, and that it is in part shaped through the power struggles within a community. Constructivism views all of our knowledge as “constructed,” because it does not reflect any external “transcendent” realities (as a pure correspondence theory might hold). Rather, perceptions of truth are viewed as contingent on convention, human perception, and social experience. It is believed by constructivists that representations of physical and biological reality, including race, sexuality, and gender are socially constructed.

Consensus theory

Consensus theory holds that truth is whatever is agreed upon, or in some versions, might come to be agreed upon, by some specified group. Such a group might include all human beings, or a subset thereof consisting of more than one person.

Pragmatic theory

The three most influential forms of the pragmatic theory of truth were introduced around the turn of the 20th century by Charles S. Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. Although there are wide differences in viewpoint among these and other proponents of pragmatic theory, they hold in common that truth is verified and confirmed by the results of putting one’s concepts into practice.

Peirce defines truth as follows: “Truth is that concordance of an abstract statement with the ideal limit towards which endless investigation would tend to bring scientific belief, which concordance the abstract statement may possess by virtue of the confession of its inaccuracy and one-sidedness, and this confession is an essential ingredient of truth.” This statement emphasizes Peirce’s view that ideas of approximation, incompleteness, and partiality, what he describes elsewhere as fallibilism and “reference to the future”, are essential to a proper conception of truth. Although Peirce uses words like concordance and correspondence to describe one aspect of the pragmatic sign relation, he is also quite explicit in saying that definitions of truth based on mere correspondence are no more than nominal definitions, which he accords a lower status than real definitions.

William James’s version of pragmatic theory, while complex, is often summarized by his statement that “the ‘true’ is only the expedient in our way of thinking, just as the ‘right’ is only the expedient in our way of behaving.” By this, James meant that truth is a quality the value of which is confirmed by its effectiveness when applying concepts to actual practice (thus, “pragmatic”).

John Dewey, less broadly than James but more broadly than Peirce, held that inquiry, whether scientific, technical, sociological, philosophical or cultural, is self-corrective over time if openly submitted for testing by a community of inquirers in order to clarify, justify, refine and/or refute proposed truths

Minimalist (deflationary) theories

A number of philosophers reject the thesis that the concept or term truth refers to a real property of sentences or propositions. These philosophers are responding, in part, to the common use of truth predicates (e.g., that some particular thing “…is true”) which was particularly prevalent in philosophical discourse on truth in the first half of the 20th century. From this point of view, to assert the proposition “‘2 + 2 = 4’ is true” is logically equivalent to asserting the proposition “2 + 2 = 4”, and the phrase “is true” is completely dispensable in this and every other context. These positions are broadly described

as deflationary theories of truth, since they attempt to deflate the presumed importance of the words “true” or truth,

as disquotational theories, to draw attention to the disappearance of the quotation marks in cases like the above example, or

as minimalist theories of truth.

Whichever term is used, deflationary theories can be said to hold in common that “[t]he predicate ‘true’ is an expressive convenience, not the name of a property requiring deep analysis.” Once we have identified the truth predicate’s formal features and utility, deflationists argue, we have said all there is to be said about truth. Among the theoretical concerns of these views is to explain away those special cases where it does appear that the concept of truth has peculiar and interesting properties.

In addition to highlighting such formal aspects of the predicate “is true”, some deflationists point out that the concept enables us to express things that might otherwise require infinitely long sentences. For example, one cannot express confidence in Michael’s accuracy by asserting the endless sentence:

Michael says, ‘snow is white’ and snow is white, or he says ‘roses are red’ and roses are red or he says … etc.

But it can be expressed succinctly by saying: Whatever Michael says is true.

Performative theory of truth

Attributed to P. F. Strawson is the performative theory of truth which holds that to say “‘Snow is white’ is true” is to perform the speech act of signaling one’s agreement with the claim that snow is white (much like nodding one’s head in agreement). The idea that some statements are more actions than communicative statements is not as odd as it may seem. Consider, for example, that when the bride says “I do” at the appropriate time in a wedding, she is performing the act of taking this man to be her lawful wedded husband. She is not describing herself as taking this man. In a similar way, Strawson holds: “To say a statement is true is not to make a statement about a statement, but rather to perform the act of agreeing with, accepting, or endorsing a statement. When one says ‘It’s true that it’s raining,’ one asserts no more than ‘It’s raining.’ The function of [the statement] ‘It’s true that…’ is to agree with, accept, or endorse the statement that ‘it’s raining.'”

Redundancy and related theories

According to the redundancy theory of truth, asserting that a statement is true is completely equivalent to asserting the statement itself. For example, making the assertion that ” ‘Snow is white’ is true” is equivalent to asserting “Snow is white”. Redundancy theorists infer from this premise that truth is a redundant concept; that is, it is merely a word that is traditionally used in conversation or writing, generally for emphasis, but not a word that actually equates to anything in reality. This theory is commonly attributed to Frank P. Ramsey, who held that the use of words like fact and truth was nothing but a roundabout way of asserting a proposition, and that treating these words as separate problems in isolation from judgment was merely a “linguistic muddle”.

A variant of redundancy theory is the disquotational theory which uses a modified form of Tarski’s schema: To say that ‘”P” is true’ is to say that P. Yet another version of deflationism is the prosentential theory of truth, first developed by Dorothy Grover, Joseph Camp, and Nuel Belnap as an elaboration of Ramsey’s claims. They argue that sentences like “That’s true”, when said in response to “It’s raining”, are prosentences, expressions that merely repeat the content of other expressions. In the same way that it means the same as my dog in the sentence My dog was hungry, so I fed it, That’s true is supposed to mean the same as It’s raining — if you say the latter and I then say the former. These variations do not necessarily follow Ramsey in asserting that truth is not a property, but rather can be understood to say that, for instance, the assertion “P” may well involve a substantial truth, and the theorists in this case are minimalizing only the redundancy or prosentence involved in the statement such as “that’s true.”

Deflationary principles do not apply to representations that are not analogous to sentences, and also do not apply to many other things that are commonly judged to be true or otherwise. Consider the analogy between the sentence “Snow is white” and the person Snow White, both of which can be true in a sense. To a minimalist, saying “Snow is white is true” is the same as saying “Snow is white”, but to say “Snow is white is true” is not the same as saying “Snow is white”.