7 Approaches To Finding The Truth

finding the truth

5. The Pragmatic Approach. 

Human activity, even the search for truth, can be conceptualized in terms of goals and utility, and thus is contextualized. The pragmatic approach, emphasized by American philosophers like William James and Charles Sanders Peirce, emphasizes a conception of truth as being that which works, and what is useful in the world in determining accurate from inaccurate and fostering other goals. 

Read The 10 Commandments Of Rational Debate (Logical Fallacies Explained)

6. The Social Construction Approach. 

Where do we get our truth claims? Clearly, a key determiner of our beliefs is the cultural context, where we have been socialized into various systems and then justify our truths in relationship to other ideas that exist in the context in which we reside.

The remarkable plurality of different views demonstrates the influence that the explicit intersubjective consensus by groups of people have regarding what constitutes truth. The “linguistic turn” in philosophy, as well as the post-structuralists like Michael Foucault, emphasize how truth claims are intertwined with power, influence, and social context.

7. The Moral/Ethical/Aesthetic Approach. 

One of the most famous distinctions in modernist thinking is the separation from is and ought. The philosopher David Hume famously argued that one cannot derive what ought to be solely on the basis of what is. This led to a separation between “is” and “ought” that modern empirical natural science has only strengthened in many ways.

However, it is crucial to realize that many argue that “is” and “ought” cannot be as neatly separated. It can be argued both that what is true is often seen as what is beautiful, as exemplified by mathematical equations like the Euler Identity. In addition, many argue that there are ultimate values pertaining to goodness and beauty that are as true in how they orient our embodiment as any claims to accuracy. Although they did so in different ways, philosophers as different as Kant and Aristotle both saw goodness and truth as tied together in profound ways.  

Read Can Philosophy Resolve The Question ‘How should we live?’

These seven approaches represent the dominant ways philosophers have attempted to ground their truth claims. It seemly likely that they all have their place in helping humanity generate an understanding of that which is true in the deepest sense of that word.

Be that which enhances dignity and well-being with integrity.

Written by: Gregg Henriques
Originally appeared on: Psychology Today
Republished with permission
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7 Approaches To Finding The Truth
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Gregg Henriques, Ph.D

Dr. Gregg Henriques is a Professor of Graduate Psychology at James Madison University in the Combined-Integrated Doctoral Program in Clinical and School Psychology. He received Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Vermont and did his post-doctoral training at the University of Pennsylvania, working with Dr. Aaron T. Beck. His primary area of scholarly interest is in developing a “unified metapsychology framework” for both the science and practice of psychology. Toward that end, he has authored the book, A New Unified Theory of Psychology and developed a popular blog on Psychology Today, Theory of Knowledge, where he has authored over 350 essays on psychology, philosophy, politics, and mental health. He is the founder of the Theory of Knowledge Society, a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, and has won numerous awards for teaching, scholarship, and service, and published dozens of articles in leading academic journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association, American Psychologist, and Review of General Psychology. A licensed clinical psychologist, he has expertise in theoretical psychology, unified approaches to psychotherapy, psychological well-being, personality functioning, depression, and suicidal behavior. See his home page at gregghenriques.com.View Author posts