Truth as an Epistemic Ideal

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Several philosophers—including C. S. Peirce, William James, Hilary Putnam and Crispin Wright—have proposed various versions of the notion that truth is an epistemic ideal. More specifically, they have held that a proposition is true if and only if it can be fixedly warranted by human inquirers, given certain ideal epistemic conditions. This paper offers a general critique of that idea, modeling conceptions of ideality and fixed warrant within the semantics that Kripke developed for intuitionistic logic. It is shown that each of the two plausible notions of fixed warrant faces difficulties and that, moreover, “truth” defined in terms of either of them is distressingly dependent upon one’s conception of idealized inquiry and perhaps also upon one’s standards of warrant.

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