SKEPTICISM ABOUT INTERPRETATION

  • A Challenge
    • Though sounds subjective what just described, has strong objective element: think their interp. Is BETTER not only different from others. This doesn’t mean there aren’t different views about what a work of art like Hamlet is about, that is a question about challenge, not complexity.  Can one interpretive view be objectively better than another when they are not merely different?
    • Most people think yes, that some are better than others. Driven by truth. Like person who discovers new reading of Paradise Lost., and others who cling to older view have good reason to change their mind. Others deny this, they say, just like with hard cases, cannot be one better than another, just different.
    • Much of what said, idea of interpreting practice as best in can be, might be thought to support skeptical view right-wrong view, beccause idea that there can be right answer about moral or social value strikes people as strange.
  • Internal and External Skepticism
    • Let’s measure scope and force of this skeptical challenge. Crucial distinction: skepticism within the enterprise of interpretation – substantive position about best interpretation of some practice or work of art – and skepticism outside and about that enterprise.
      • g: You say Hamlet is best understood as play exploring obliquity:
        • Internal skeptic: “No, hamlet too confused and jumbled to be about anything” (addresses substance of claims, because one view IS right)
        • External skeptic: “I agree, but of course this is only an opinion we share, we cannot sensibly suppose that Hamlet’s being about delay is an objective fact we have discovered locked up in nature of reality.” (His theory is about the second level classification of claims like Hamlet is about x, y, z).
      • Would external skepticism condemn the belief interpreters commonly have: that one interpretation of some text or social practice can be on balance better than others, that there can be “right answer” to question which is best even when it is controversial what right answer is.  Depends on how these “objective” beliefs are understood —
        • g I say slavery is wrong, then add second group of statements: its objectively wrong, not just opinion, but true even if I thought otherwise, it is the right answer.  The connection between these two judgments is that we use language of objectivity not to give our ordinary moral interpretive claims bizarre metaphysical base, but to REPEAT them.
      • Thus – no important difference in philosophical category or standing between statement that slavery is wrong and statement that htere is a right answer to question of slavery, namely, that it is wrong. I cannot hold first opinion as moral opinion without holding the second.
      • Crucial point: “objective” beliefs most of us have are MORAL, not metaphysical, beliefs, that they only repeat and qualify other moral beliefs. Note that this in no way weakens these beliefs or makes them claim something less or different from what they might be thought to claim. If anything is made less important by that point, it is external skepticism, not our convictions.

 

  • Which form of Skepticism?
    • How understand the skeptic who says there cannot be right answers in morals or interpretation? This skeptic says that different people have different opinions of beauty and justice, thus they cannot be properties of world independen of Attitude. —- but note, this skeptci thinks his attack has force of internal skepticism – for he insists that people interpreting poems or deciding hard cases should not talk as if one view is right —- CANNOT HAVE IT BOTH WAYS!
    • This critic attacks us by saying we make claims we do not make, WE do not say that interpretation is like physics or that moral values are “out there” or can be proved. We only say that Hamlet is about delay and that slavery is wrong.  The practices of interpretation and morality give these claims all the meaning they need or could have.  —- so, is this critic actually accusing us of moral rather than metaphysical mistakes?
    • Yes, they become internally skeptical arguments because they assume some general and abstract moral position – that moral claims have genuine moral force only when they are drawn from mores of a particular community, eg.
    • Metamorphisis ist costly, as skeptics arguments no longer a priori. His skepticism can no loner be disengaged or neutral about ordinary moral opinions. If he really believes, in the internally skeptical way, that no moral judgment is really better than any other, he cannot then add that in his opinion slavery is unjust.
  • Conslusions and Agenda
    • End this section with apology and advice. Argument so far has been entirely defensive. “we marched up a hill and down again.” Skeptics say interpretive attitude is mistake, because wrong to suppose that one interpretation of a social practice can be right or wrong or really better than another.
      • BUT: that complain on model of external skepticism, the argument is confused. If construe more naturally as piece of global internal skpeticism, “then all the argument waits to be made”.
    • Skeptical (external) challenge has strong hold on lawyers. They say “that’s your opinoin”, or “how do you know” requiring a thundering knock down proof no sane person can refuse.   And if no argument of that power is there, they grumble and say jurisprudence is subjective only.
      • This is waste of time, only internal skepticism merits time, and it must be earned by arguments of same contested character as the argumnets it opposes.
    • Now, I’ll offer arguments what makes one interpr of social practice better than another. These arguments will not, because cannot, be demonstrations.
      • “You must then ask yourself whether it is your opioin too. If it is, you will think my arguments are sound and that other conflicting ones are unsound.” pg. 86 (— he is basically showing what he is describing here with example of own book and arguments)

“The exercise at hand is one of discovery: discovering which view of sovereign matters w discuss sorts best with convictions we each, together or soverally, have and reatin about best account of our common practices.” p. 86 – abogados de accidentes de trafico