'But,' common sense may retort, 'surely such objections are purely academic? We shall admit, if you like, that the "fact" of the thunderstorm is a fact for us only through judgment. But this judgment (and many another of kindred nature) is one which we find forced upon us by reality itself, not a "construct" of our own. It is a judgment which, as you know very well, everyone, yourself included, would make in the given conditions, and there would be universal agreement that anyone who refused his assent to it was out of his mind - or at any rate out of his "senses." There is surely nothing outrageous, therefore, in speaking of the thunderstorm as an "objective fact."'
This response would mean, of course, the frank abandonment of Correspondence as an ultimate test: and it has the merit of permitting us to see the type of test which often underlies the ostensible adherence to Correspondence. The correspondence alleged is now granted to be one of judgment with judgment, and in assuming that the correspondence gives truth, it is assumed that the second judgment is true for reasons other than correspondence. What are these reasons? In point of fact, two distinct criteria are suggested by the statement made. And neither of them will bear a moment's scrutiny.
The sense of passivity, which is first suggested, is almost valueless. It is easy to show that there has gone to the making of a judgment such as 'this is a thunderstorm' not even a little, but a very great deal of, 'construction,' even although the judging mind may appear to itself now to be purely receptive. And at any rate, it would be an exceedingly odd reading of experience which could find evidence for the view that the judgments in which we are relatively passive are in general the judgments in which we are most likely to be stating the truth about reality.
As to the second criterion suggested - that a judgment is true in so far as all normal people (whatever 'normal' means) would make substantially the same judgment under substantially the same conditions - is Truth then to be ascertained by a mere counting of heads? If Truth is as difficult of attainment as has usually been supposed to be the case, then it may very well be that, at the present elementary level of our information about the physical world, we are one and all hopelessly wrong in what we mean to ascribe to Reality when we affirm, e.g. that a thunderstorm is taking place. What is actually going on in Reality when we make the judgment is in all probability something of quite undreamt-of complexity, something which, could we envisage it, we should declare to be not in the least like the meaning which we intended to assert in the judgment. And in this connection we may note a point which will have to receive fuller treatment later. What even the scientist (let alone Omniscience) means when he says that a thunderstorm is taking place has probably, in spite of the identity of verbal expression, far greater divergence from, than resemblance to, the meaning of the plain man : which further illustrates the hopelessness of appealing to the unanimous consent of mankind to support the veridical character of the common-sense judgment of 'fact'.
It is not disputed, of course, that in our everyday practice we are as a rule content to take the consensus of opinion of normal persons as sufficient warrant for the truth of perceived 'facts' This is no doubt the case, but it merely illustrates the disparity of logic and life. About the only way in which there seems even a remote possibility of evading the difficulties that have been raised would be to take new ground and boldly contend that the deliverances of normal perception are not so much a test of fact as what is actually meant by fact. When we say 'there will be a thunderstorm to-night,' what we mean (on this view) is that to-night all normal persons in the vicinity who observe the weather conditions will pronounce that a thunderstorm is taking place. Such a view would escape the difficulty of having to show what ground there is for supposing normal perception to be in accord with reality, although not the difficulties connected with the actual variations within so-called 'normal perception.' But it has more than enough difficulties of its own, without our borrowing from those common to it with other theories. Above all, it clearly implies a new interpretation of the meaning of Truth. Truth on this view does not mean correspondence with the real order of things. It means merely correspondence with certain propositions about that order. But it is vain thus to try to eject from the conception of Truth its fundamental reference to the 'real' order of things. The defect in this view is really of a piece with that which the Idealist theory of Truth exhibits, viz. conflict with what, in the persisting subject-object duality of experience, it seems inevitable for us to mean by Truth. It is surely a confusion to suppose that a person predicting a thunderstorm to-night means merely that to-night a certain judgment will be made upon the weather by all normal and suitably situated persons. He may also mean this, but what he means primarily is that physical reality will undergo a certain determinate modification. And it is only because he means this latter that it is possible for him also to mean the former.