Language, Truth and The Just Society


All that philosophical “theories” of truth do is to demonstrate what is entailed by assuming our common uses and common understandings of the concept of truth. But our common understanding of what truth is is only a part of how truth functions. If we only look at that, we are missing the rest of the picture, namely how truth functions as the foundation for all human communication. I propose that truth functions a lot like morality, in the sense that both truth and morality are normative systems that regulate human behaviour. To best understand this we need to imagine why truth was needed in the first place, and what role it plays in human communication as a whole. Here the philosophical approach of defining the “State of Nature” comes into play, and we obtain an account starting with drawing the relevant distinction between humans and non-human animals, and then showing how a crisis could have arisen from the initial development of language and how collective acknowledgement of truth as a default notion could have solved it, in the same way that collective acknowledgement of a moral system solved the problem of cheats and free riders. To do this, I utilize the idea of common pool resource management, as outlined in the work of the Institutional Economist Elinor Ostrom.

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Charles Justice
Concordia University


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