The question of objectivity is whether human beings are capable of knowing reality just as it is, or whether there is some necessary distortion in our grasp of the nature of things imposed either by the very nature of our cognitive mechanism, or by such factors as language, culture, personal ambitions, psychological disorders, and class interests. Could it be that we do not see the world at all, since we see it from a particular point of view? Can we ever satisfactorily establish that our understanding of reality is accurate, or must that always remain in doubt? In this book Professor Machan defends objectivity in philosophy, science, and everyday life from its many critics. Objectivity stands in need of a defence because it is a difficult ideal to serve, especially in an era of multiculturalism, deconstructionism, feminism, and diversity. People from different cultures report having radically different experiences, indeed radically different worlds. They usually claim that their experiences are as true as anyone else‘s. Deconstructionists tell us that we know nothing determinate beyond language, i.e., that we don‘t know what we are talking about. Feminists often maintain that women and men see the world in significantly different ways. The idea of diversity gains much of its plausibility from the idea that people from diverse backgrounds all have their own valid ways of seeing the world. The most prominent movements in Anglo-American and continental philosophy are against objectivity. Such figures as Richard Rorty and Jacques Derrida unambiguously deny that human beings are capable of knowing the world as it is. This book considers and responds to these and similar challenges to objectivity.
Table of Contents
Contents: Preface; Introduction: Why will nothing but objective truth do?; Part I Philosophy: Reflections on Richard Rorty; C.S. Peirce and absolute truth. Part II Science: Thomas Kuhn and the objectivity of science; Kuhn and the moral dimension of objectivity. Part III Everyday Life: The nature of objective moral claims; Journalistic objectivity, true and false; Richard Posner's pragmatic jurisprudence; Terrorism and objective moral principles; Epilogue; Bibliography; Index.