Further on the Criteria of Truth and Error

Henry Sidgwick

in Essays on Ethics and Method

Published in print December 2000 | ISBN: 9780198250234
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598432 | DOI:

Series: British Moral Philosophers

 Further on the Criteria of Truth and Error

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Originally written as an appendix to ‘Criteria of Truth and Error’ (Ch. 17), this piece provides Sidgwick's positive argument regarding the problem of truth and falsehood. Turning away from purportedly infallible criteria of truth, Sidgwick considers various methods of verification. He moves from the search for an absolute test of truth to the more modest search for a way of excluding error. The Intuitive (or Cartesian) Verification cannot be relied upon alone, and so must be supplemented by the Discursive Verification. The latter aims to exclude error arising from the conflict of intuitive beliefs by grouping related beliefs together and examining them as systematically as possible. These two verifications are supplemented by a third called the Social or Oecumenical Verification, which turns on a consensus of experts and the general opinion of the whole.

Keywords: belief; consensus; Discursive Verification; error; falsehood; Intuitive Verification; method; Sidgwick; truth; verification

Chapter.  2502 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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