Reply to Goldstein

Justin Schwartz jschwart at freenet.columbus.oh.us
Mon Jan 30 12:03:31 MST 1995


On Mon, 30 Jan 1995, Philip Goldstein wrote:

> 	In reply to Wolf, Schwartz makes the following point, which I
> find confusing: "The reasonable interpretation is that
> beliefs are warranted only by other beliefs and none have independent
> warrant in virtue of self-evidence or some other such property. (This is
> what _I_ mean by antifoundationalism.) But nothing follows from this
> about the status of what some of the beliefs are about: beliefs warranted
> by others could be about an objective mind-and-language independent
> reality. The unreasonable interpretation is that beliefs can only be
> _about_ other beliefs (and so not about a mind, etc. independent reality.)
> But it doesn't even follow from _that_ that there is no such reality, just
> that we can't have beliefs about it."

I take the point to be that, from
> the fact that beliefs are warranted by others, one cannot conclude that
> there is no objective reality, since some of these warranted beliefs
> could include claims about objective reality. The trouble is that one
> usually speaks of objective reality as a ground or warrant of beliefs and

I don't know who speaks of it this way. I don't. Only beliefs warrant
other beliefs. My beliefs about the capitalist class are about that part of
objective reality which owns the means of production in capitalist
society, but it is not the epistemic warrant of any of those beliefs, and
I don't know what it would mean to say that the class warrants a belief,
e.g., that it's the ruling class in capitalism. Now I do think that my
beliefs about the class are in part caused by the class, which causal
relations are similarly objective, and that the best explanation of my
belief that that class is the ruling class is that it is, objectively,
the ruling class. But if asked what grounds I have to believe this I can
only cite other beliefs, e.g., that the class that owns the maens of
production will exercise disproportionate influence on the government, and
so forth.

> , moreover, one that resists what others believe.

I don't understand this. One what that resists what others believe? A
ground can't resist the beliefs of others, only a person can.

 To concede that what
> warrants claims about reality is the beliefs of others is to deny
> objective reality just that normative status which antifoundationalism
> opposes.

If AF just says that objective reality isn't the epistemic warrant for our
beliefs, and not that, in virtue of not being that warrant, it doesn't
exist or isn't objective, I have no problem with it. But I do want to keep
the following normative claim about objective reality: that it is
normatively desirable that our beliefs be true of it. To say claim is
warranted means, as I understand it, that in view of other beliefs I hold
it is likely to be true. That's why warrant matters, because we want true
beliefs.

 In other words, I do not see how your defense of objective
> reality as warranted belief

I do not identify objective reality with warranted belief, or any belief.
For something to be objective is for it to be independent of us, our
beliefs, concepts, and so forth. (Socially constituted realities like
class are therefore not fully objective in this sense, but their existence
and properties, while part;y involving us and our beliefs, are independent
of our beliefs about them. I cannot make the working class the ruling
class in capitalist society by coming to believe that it is so.)

---Justin Schwartz

 supports your opposition to
> antifoundationalism.



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