A relativist takes the witness stand

Here’s how a relativist would administer a judicial oath.

Do you solemnly swear to tell what’s true for you, the whole of what’s true for you, and only what’s true for you?

Would that make you feel a little uneasy if the person being sworn in were testifying against you? Assuming you’re innocent, wouldn’t you rather they just swear to tell the truth?

Update: See further discussion in A pragmatist takes the witness stand.

2 thoughts on “A relativist takes the witness stand

  1. It wouldn’t make the slightest bit of difference to me. For one thing, I’m well aware that the “truth” that anyone tells is the truth as she sees it — it’s all relative. Watch Rashomon for a clear vision of this. I might word the oath as “the truth as I see it, and as best I remember it”, but either way it’s clear that no “witness” gives any form of objective “truth”.

    For another thing, I have no illusion that an “oath” will keep someone from lying or otherwise misleading the court if that’s what she’s inclined to do.

    See these blog entries for more on my thoughts about swearing oaths and using eyewitness testimony:
    I swear…
    Twelve angry men

  2. I agree that someone can only tell the truth as they see it and as well as they remember it. What I object to is people saying “that’s not true for me” when they merely mean “I don’t like that” or “that doesn’t work for me,” whatever that means. It’s one thing to humbly say that these are the partial facts as far as I know and that I may be mistaken. It’s quite another to say that no objective reality exists.

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