How can we, or should we, learn what is true and what is false? This is one of the most enduring and basic questions in philosophy – “basic” because it is fundamental to so many others, not because the answers are in any way easy or simple.
The question, or some form of it, came up a number of times in recent discussions of “common sense”: if common sense isn’t reliable, I was asked, what is? I’m going to try to avoid the word “reliable” as I think its different uses became confusing in the previous debate; I have little stake in its use as a term. But the basic question of determining truth from falsehood is a crucial one and worth asking.
That’s not to say, however, that it admits easy answers, for I don’t think we should expect easy answers on the most basic philosophical questions. Continue reading