The Holmes Truth: Toward a Pragmatic, Holmes-Influenced Conceptualization of the Nature of Truth

The Holmes Truth: Toward a Pragmatic, Holmes-Influenced Conceptualization of the Nature of Truth AbstractTruth as a fundamental ingredient within the flow of discourse and the application of freedom of expression in democratic society has historically received considerable attention from the U.S. Supreme Court. Many of the Court’s central precedents regarding First Amendment concerns have been determined by how justices have understood truth and how they have conceptualized the complex relationship truth and falsity share. Despite the attention truth has received, however, the Court has not provided a consistent understanding of its meaning. For these reasons, this article examines how the Supreme Court has conceptualized truth in freedom-of-expression cases, ultimately drawing upon the results of that analysis, as well as pragmatic approaches to philosophy, the so called “pragmatic method” put forth by American philosopher William James, to propose a unifying conceptualization of truth that could be employed to help the Court provide consistency within its precedents regarding the meaning of a concept that has been central to the Court’s interpretation of the First Amendment since, in many ways, another pragmatist and friend of James’s, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, substantially addressed truth in his dissent in Abrams v. United States. The article concludes by proposing that the courts conceptualize the nature of truth via three substantially related understandings: that truth is a process, that it is experience-funded, and that it is not absolute and is best approached without prejudice. Each of the three ingredients relates, at least to some extent, with thematic understandings put forth by the Court in previous freedom-of-expression cases, and therefore does not represent a significant departure from justices’ traditional approaches to truth. The model, most ideally, does seek, with the help of pragmatic thought and ideas put forth by Justice Holmes, to encourage consistent recognition of certain principles regarding truth as justices go about considering its nature in First Amendment cases. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png British Journal of American Legal Studies de Gruyter

The Holmes Truth: Toward a Pragmatic, Holmes-Influenced Conceptualization of the Nature of Truth

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Publisher
de Gruyter
Copyright
© 2018 Jared Schroeder, published by Sciendo
ISSN
2049-4092
eISSN
2049-4092
D.O.I.
10.2478/bjals-2018-0005
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

AbstractTruth as a fundamental ingredient within the flow of discourse and the application of freedom of expression in democratic society has historically received considerable attention from the U.S. Supreme Court. Many of the Court’s central precedents regarding First Amendment concerns have been determined by how justices have understood truth and how they have conceptualized the complex relationship truth and falsity share. Despite the attention truth has received, however, the Court has not provided a consistent understanding of its meaning. For these reasons, this article examines how the Supreme Court has conceptualized truth in freedom-of-expression cases, ultimately drawing upon the results of that analysis, as well as pragmatic approaches to philosophy, the so called “pragmatic method” put forth by American philosopher William James, to propose a unifying conceptualization of truth that could be employed to help the Court provide consistency within its precedents regarding the meaning of a concept that has been central to the Court’s interpretation of the First Amendment since, in many ways, another pragmatist and friend of James’s, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, substantially addressed truth in his dissent in Abrams v. United States. The article concludes by proposing that the courts conceptualize the nature of truth via three substantially related understandings: that truth is a process, that it is experience-funded, and that it is not absolute and is best approached without prejudice. Each of the three ingredients relates, at least to some extent, with thematic understandings put forth by the Court in previous freedom-of-expression cases, and therefore does not represent a significant departure from justices’ traditional approaches to truth. The model, most ideally, does seek, with the help of pragmatic thought and ideas put forth by Justice Holmes, to encourage consistent recognition of certain principles regarding truth as justices go about considering its nature in First Amendment cases.

Journal

British Journal of American Legal Studiesde Gruyter

Published: May 30, 2018

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