The normativity of truth in cognitive evaluation



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Tartu Ülikool


In this essay I will defend Stephen Stich’s pragmatic theory of cognitive evaluation. The most striking feature of his view is that it doesn’t place truth center-stage as a criterion of a good cognitive system. In fact, he argues that having true beliefs is of little value, both intrinsically and instrumentally, and what we should really want is to have beliefs that allow us to attain the things that we actually value. This view is contested by Hilary Kornblith, who argues that even if truth is not something we value intrinsically, then it is always of instrumental value for attaining the things that we actually want to attain. For him, truth plays a pre-eminent role in cognitive evaluation, and placing value on truth is thus pragmatically preferable.