How to troll Scott Sumner

The basic idea here is Hilary Putnam's, not mine:

Sumner holds, with Richard Rorty (although Putnam claims that Rorty actually abandoned this view!), that objectivity is simply a matter of consensus: to say that "X is objectively true" is equivalent to saying "X is held to be true by me and my community."

There are a number of problems with this view, and Putnam exposes one in a clever way: What about Rorty's idea that truth is just a matter of consensus? Is that idea true?

Per Rorty, the way to test this is to see if it is the consensus in the relevant community of experts. But, in fact, the overwhelming majority of philosophers reject this view. So if we take Rortian relativism seriously, we must convict it of proving its own falsehood.


  1. The flaw in this claim as stated is particularly obvious – not sure how any could miss it: it seems to preclude any truth that isn't already widely known. So, if I trip and fall on a dark street and break my leg, but I haven't called 911 yet, then there hasn't been an opportunity for anyone else to know about it, and so there is no consensus. Am I therefore going to conclude that it's not objectively true that my leg is broken?