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About the debate

The outcomes of this debate are going to be published in the first renewed volume of Studia Philosophica, thus in Studia Philosophica e-Journal vol. 1(5). The volume will be devoted to the memory of Kazimierz Twardowski. Its publication is planned to be completed around September 2010. Volumes of SPeJ are going to be available both in electronic and hard form. On all matters concerning both the debate and the planned issue of SPeJ contact: "current debate" SP-Forum [at]
The initial papers around which the discussion will be organized are:

  • Kazimierz Twardowski’s, “O tzw. prawdach względnych”, Księga Pamiątkowa Uniwersytetu Lwowskiego ku uczczeniu pięćsetnej rocznicy fundacji Jagiellońskiej, 1900. English version “On So-Called Relative Truths,” of this paper is available in Kazimierz Twardowski On Actions, Products, and other Topics in Philosophy, edited by Johannes Brandl and Jan Woleński as vol. 67 (1999) of Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of Sciences and Humanities: 147-170
  • Susan Haack, “The Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth,” Midwest Studies in Philosophy, XXXII (2008): 20-35.

The two papers are separated by more than a century. No wonder then that they differ considerably in many respects. And yet, they have much in common. Most importantly they both are intended as defense of sober look at epistemological issues endangered by the idea of treating philosophy as dramatically different kind of intellectual enterprise than science. Susan Haack does not share Twardowski’s positivistic view on the need of reduction of all philosophical issues to those which can be handled in “the scientific way” (the Lvov-Warsaw Philosophical School started by Twardowski’s seminar was one of the prominent branches of logical empiricism). However, she is disturbed by tendencies which she describes as New Cynicism*) see e.g. her Defending Science – Within Reason: Between Scientism and Cynicism).

There is another reason to recall Twardowski’s paper and confront it with that of Haack. It initiated long lasting debate among the most prominent Polish philosophers in the twenties and thirties of the past century (Kazimierz Ajdukiewicz, Izydora Dąmbska, Roman Ingarden, Maria Kokoszyńska, Tadeusz Kotarbiński, Stanisław Leśniewski, Jan Łukasiewicz and Alfred Tarski) on the concept of truth and its role in epistemology. Many of the issues and ideas they discussed are still of considerable significance, not to mention that Tarski’s papers on the notion of truth set the standards of thinking on the notion of truth and the relevant ideas which nobody can ignore. Haack belongs to those prominent British Philosophers who fully appreciate the heritage of Tarski’s contribution to debates about what truth is and how it can be defined. **)

You are invited to take part in the discussion in any form you find the most appropriate: a (draft of a) paper presenting your views on the relevant ideas, a comment on the papers presented by other participants, a short note, or even remark addressing a specific issue, a critical survey of some selected ideas, a question addressed to other participants of the discussion, etc. Whatever you write will be treated as a manuscript with your copy rights fully preserved. Thus you’ll be free to publish your contribution at any place of your choice, even though, when around the end of March 2010 the discussion is over, your submitting it (or its revised version) to publication in SPe-J will be appreciated.

Ryszard Wójcicki

PS. The following are Prof. S Haack’s comments on the parts marked by stars:

*) This is a bit misleading. if I had to describe myself, I’d say ‘pragmatist,’ and I’d agree with Peirce that philosophy should be ‘scientific’ – meaning, however, only that it should be serious inquiry, not, as Rorty says ‘editifcation’.

**) Again, a bit misleading; though I recognize Tarski’s technical achievement, I agree with him that his definition of truth can’t be applied to natural languages – which means its epistemological usefulness is limited at best.