0 0 Colin McGinn Colin McGinn2017-05-26 17:43:252017-05-26 17:43:25Truth, Reason, and Clinton
Truth, Reason, and Clinton
I enjoyed watching Hillary C. extol truth and reason in her Wellesley commencement speech, and denounce the idea of alternative facts. But then she went on, in characteristic modern style, to commend “diverse viewpoints”. But these are incompatible ideas: there is only one set of truths (and many sets of falsehoods) because reality is only one way. We should not welcome “diverse viewpoints” on the shape of the Earth or the correctness of evolution. The notions of truth and reason inevitably generate an elite of believers–those who believe the truth and employ reason. The rest are just wrong. I don’t welcome Trump’s beliefs about crowd sizes.
But isn’t a welcoming attitude towards “diverse viewpoints” what allowed us to improve and readjust our scientific theories on the shape of the Earth or the process of evolution in the first place? We once believed in a geocentric universe, inheritance of acquired characteristics, spontaneous generation of life, and so many other theories that have since been disproven. Truth, and subsequently science, seems to be just as vulnerable to evolution as the idea of evolution itself.
But this is not welcoming diverse viewpoints but true viewpoints, of which there is only one. The trick is to know which viewpoints are true; mere diversity necessarily produces false beliefs. Truth does not evolve, only our views of it do.