Additionally, it is important to note that the perceptual nature of truth, even as it is unexamined does not in itself make truth genuine -- and that all is not relative. Instead:
Bhaskar contrasts a relative and developing ethical naturalism with a rational moral realism. Ethical naturalism is at the level of moral rules designed to guide actions, and these change over time with changes in our ethical concepts (for example, "slave," "person"). Underlying these is a moral realism which grounds our ethics and which can be rationally discovered via analysis of the changing nature of ourselves, our needs and our society. Bhaskar speaks of "ethical alethia, ultimately grounded in conceptions of human nature" (DPF 211). It is moral realism that prevents ethical naturalism from being an arbitrary matter internal to a culture (Irwin, 1997).
If then, there is a way to view the "facts" or events according to this moral realism, then how is it that these facts are constructed as true? For example, of key -- or perhaps, in many eyes outside of the conflict, or of paramount importance in the Kashmir controversy is the fact that people are suffering and dying as a result of the discord there. Further, even more suffering, perhaps globally is likely to result from the continued clashes between India and Pakistan over the issue (remember, both sides have nuclear capabilities). Is this suffering a crucial "fact" that must be taken into account?
Again, according to Lewis Irwin in his interpretation of critical realism, "...Critical realism conceptualizes events and situations in relation to the real mechanisms which generate them, rather than conceiving them as atoms that determine our knowledge of them without any kind of mediation." Thus, the individual observes events, and interprets those events into facts. Further, the degree to which each individual understands the social mechanisms that lead them to their factual conclusions, the more critically "real" they will be. Again, this is the key that guards against "willy-nilly" relativism -- for according to Bhaskar, "...perspectives are real and are parts of totalities in which agents are embedded (Irwin). The challenge here is being able to get some kind of grasp upon that totality.
Critical Realism: The Kashmir Solution
Given the perspectives of each side in the Kashmir conflict, it is clear that the "real events" are war, conflict and violence that "result" in poverty, injury, starvation, economic hardship and death. We know that these are real and they are...
Further, we also know that these states are socially undesirable as agreed upon by virtually every societal system on earth. Of course, it is obvious that by removing the dispute from the land of Kashmir these effects can be eliminated, but which side is closer to the answer?
If on a cursory examination one examines the rational explained by both sides above, especially with regard to a willingness to view the human suffering as a fact, one sees that the Pakistanis side seems to be more "in touch" with their perceptual bias in their ability and willingness to "show" the world the results of the conflict on the ground. Of course, this is not to say that they do not share a bias in their unwillingness to relinquish Kashmir to its own sovereignty. However, given India's control over much of the territory, this point may be moot.
India, on the other hand, refuses to even acknowledge the suffering that the conflict as exacted on the people -- with particular emphasis on their unwillingness to acknowledge their specific role in that misery. Instead, they focus on "rule" based thinking, i.e., "legally it's ours, the Maharaja signed it over!" which, according to critical realism is not a "reality" resulting in an effect. Further, they also refuse to allow independent observes into the area, perhaps as a result of their fundamental (if unspoken) cognizance of the falsity of their position.
According to the realist approach, the Pakistani side seems to be more on track with regard to "reality" in Kashmir. Not only do they recognize the on the ground truths, but they invite others to do so as well -- a definite point in their favor. Although many might argue (and rightly so) that the situation is much more complex than believing the Pakistani position on Kashmir is the correct one, the official perspective of the Pakistani government (as represented by their public concerns and calls for international observers) is certainly more encompassing of the "totality" of the situation than the Indian view. Again, this is not to say that the Kashmir problem would be necessarily solved by a transfer of all land and power to Pakistani control, however, it would certainly (according to a critical realist interpretation), be a vast improvement on the status quo.
Basden, Andrew. (2004). "Bhaskar's Critical Realism." Web site. Retrieved on November 21, 2004, from, http://www.isi.salford.ac.uk/dooy/ext/bhaskar.html. Copyright BBC. British Broadcasting Company. (2002). "Q&a: Kashmir Dispute." Web site. Retrieved on November 21, 2004, from, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/353352.
Irwin, Louis. (1997). "Critical Realism." Web site. Retrieved on November 21, 2004, from, http://www.raggedclaws.com/criticalrealism/index.php?sitesig=WSCR&page=WSCR_060_WSCR_Glossary&subpage=WSCR_130_Ethical_Naturalism_and_Moral_Realism
Kaboub, Fidel. (2000) "Roy Bhaskar's Critical Realism: A Brief Overview and a Critical Evaluation." Web site. Retrieved on November 21, 2004, from, http://f.students.umkc.edu/fkfc8/BhaskarCR.htm
Walsh, Christine. (2003). "The Kashmir Conflict." Web site. Retrieved on November 21, 2004, from, http://www.indianewengland.com/news/2003/04/15/Community/Kashmir.Conflict.In.N.h-410521.shtml
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