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The Transformation of Human Rights Fact-Finding$
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Philip Alston and Sarah Knuckey

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190239480

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190239480.001.0001

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Do Facts Exist, Can They Be “Found,” and Does It Matter?

Do Facts Exist, Can They Be “Found,” and Does It Matter?

Chapter:
(p.27) 2. Do Facts Exist, Can They Be “Found,” and Does It Matter?
Source:
The Transformation of Human Rights Fact-Finding
Author(s):

Frédéric Mégret

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190239480.003.0002

This chapter contrasts two possible views of fact-finding. First, it describes a sort of conventional view of human rights fact-finding, one that relies on a strong notion of facts as existing. It nonetheless suggests a note of skepticism about the diversity of products that fall under the label of “facts,” and some of the fragile premises that seem to underscore the notion. In the second section, the chapter contrasts that conventional view with a more dynamic one of fact-finding as a form of strategic practice oriented not only toward the production of truth claims but more generally the creation of social consensus. The chapter concludes with a moderate defense of fact-finding despite all its epistemological limitations, on the basis that the search for facts responds to a moral imperative, and is at any rate preferable to the reign of opinion.

Keywords:   skepticism, facts, truth claims, strategic practice, epistemological limits

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