Truth: What Is It Good For? Absolutely Something

Rachel Handley in 3:16:

You walk into your living room to find your friends, Anne and Bob, talking about whether euthanasia is morally right or wrong. Their conversation starts in a friendly way, but when Bob claims that his view is “clearly true” Anne rolls her eyes and tells him why his view isn’t true. Anne claims that Bob’s view about euthanasia is not only not obviously true, it is not true at all. She gives a counterexample, and Bob gives his reply. Eventually their argument stops, they both sense they are going in circles. Bob turns to you and asks which view you think is true. You tell them that they need to answer another question first. Anne and Bob sigh and don the well-worn expressions of people who have a philosopher for a friend.

“What’s your question?” asks Anne.

“Well” you say “what do you mean by ‘is true’?”

It may seem puzzling to raise a question about truth amid an argument about euthanasia. Such a question is abstract in nature, whereas Anne and Bob’s discussion is concrete; they are concerned with what we ought to do. Nevertheless, Anne and Bob both claim that each of their views about euthanasia are true and this, you tell them, could imply a number of things about what truth is and in turn, how truth is linked to what we mean when we say something is morally wrong.

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