My goal is to find answers. I don’t like raising questions just for the sake of raising questions.
Through some one-in-a-zillion-chance accident, a cow gives birth to a shark. What is it? A cow? A shark? A cow-shark? We can answer specific questions like, does it have cow or shark DNA? Does it moo? But someone (probably a philosopher) can always ask, “but is it really a cow, or a shark, or a cow-shark?” Pragmatists point out that this relies on a biological essentialism that no good Darwinian can take seriously. The question is a bad question.
I take pragmatists to be making the same point about knowledge and the distinction between justification and truth. If we distinguish justification from truth and ask for something beyond justification, we will ask silly questions. The most obvious example I can think of is: does qualia exist? Dennett points out again and again that we can’t have – and by the definition of qualia, could never have – a reason to believe that qualia exists. Yet philosophers of mind keep asking, does qualia exist? This silliness would stop if we adopted pragmatism.
So I take my point to be twofold:
-I disagree w/ Daniel that we should have a correspondence theory of truth, b/c pragmatist epistemology (if you can call it that) can ask and answer all of the same questions, but with the benefit that it won’t ask ridiculous cow-shark questions.
-I disagree w/ Ross b/c I think that we can have better or worse justifications for an argument or a claim, and I think this is entirely consistent with pragmatism. Indeed, I think pragmatism has strong justifications.
I think that, in a desire to avoid Gordonesque skepticism, one might opt for a correspondence theory of truth. But my argument is that pragmatism can avoid Gordonesque skepticism while also avoiding the disadvantages of a correspondence theory of truth.