Whither TRUTH???

Wed, 10 Apr 1996 18:41:38 +0800

Jim (and other PCPers interested in this discussion):

[What I have to say below I believe supports your position but
elaborates what I was hinting at in my last post.]

I take perceptual illusions to be a discrepancy between a
subject's report of what they see and the objective conditions
which give rise to them. I think you would see this as a
discrepancy between two accounts (that of the subject and that of
the experimenter). In the example of the phi phenomenon the
subject's construct "still-moving" serves them well because,
typically, under criterial conditions, their report, "its moving"
is the apposite phrase to describe their experience (of a static
light source appearing to move). This report, however, from
another vantage, can be invalidated by the evidence (the lights
never move) which holds "true" (oops) for the physical state of
affairs pertaining to the experimental demonstration.

Thus far this account supports the correspondence theory of the
relation between words and things. But the "experimental
demonstration" is also a construct (the phi apparatus is not a
natural given) though it is not the sole prerogative of the
experimenter nor does it originate with him/her. Rather it is
part of the *collective agreement* by which a community of
scientists set the conditions and the agenda of the research in
question (in this case the study of a reproducible perceptual
illusory experience) an agreement arrived at over and above the
individual (personal) construals of the situation at hand. In
other words, the community of scientist/observers determine, by
criteria set or agreed upon by them, whether states of affairs
obtain or not, and judge individual accounts of such states
against them.

Its still then, as I am sure you would wish to claim, two
competing accounts ("narratives") but, in the activity of
arriving at consensual agreements about the world, one account is
necessarily *social*, the other, usually *individual*. We do not
appear to have the means of deciding absolutely between these and
different individuals make different decisions (use their own
personal constructs) but the majority invariable are moved by the
social which perforce is lent more weight by their action.

Much the same arguments apply to lying except that, unlike the
subject in a perceptual illusion experiment, the liar experiences
a discrepancy between two self generated accounts: the one that
s/he knows to be the case i.e. to describe a state of affairs
which exists, and the other, a deliberately contrived, fictional
account which describes a state of affairs which does not.

In sum, would it be appropriate to say that the veracity of one
account/narrative over another is determined by the action
consequences for a community upon whom the (individual)
construals fall?

Geoff Blowers
Dept. of Psychology
University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong