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Our panel of 90 professional philosophers has responded to

Question of the day

I respectfully disagree with your claim that logic doesn't help in the search for truth. On the contrary, we need logic in order to find out what any proposition P implies -- what other propositions must be true if P is true -- which, in turn, is essential for verifying that P itself is true. This holds as much in science as in philosophy or any other kind of inquiry.

You suggest that you need a definition of the word truth before you can answer the question whether philosophy can find truth. But if that's a problem, it isn't a problem just for philosophy: it affects science and any other kind of inquiry just as much as it affects philosophy. You could say to a physicist, "Until I have a definition of truth, how can I know whether physics can find truth?" The only difference here between philosophy and physics is that a philosopher will take your question seriously.

I don't think you need a definition of truth -- or at any rate not an interesting definition -- in order to see whether philosophy, physics, or anything else can find truth. Indeed, the concept of truth may be so fundamental that it can't be analyzed in terms of more basic concepts. Perhaps the most we can say about truth is platitudes like these:

"Mass-energy is always conserved" is true if and only if mass-energy is always conserved.
"Determinism is compatible with moral responsibility" is true if and only if determinism is compatible with moral responsibility.

The first quoted claim is from physics, while the second quoted claim is from philosophy. But as far as the concept of truth is concerned, they're on a par. To find out if mass-energy is always conserved, we make observations, perform experiments, and extrapolate (on a grand scale!) from the results. To find out if determinism is compatible with moral responsibility, we think as carefully as we can about the concepts of determinism and moral responsibility. Substantial progress has been made on both issues. Indeed, I think the second issue has been resolved.