When I wrote about epistemic ethics, I talked about an attitude. The attitude which underlies the scientific method. The tendency to seek cognitive techniques which bring us closer to truth. I wanted to talk more about that attitude. I wanted to complain that we needed it to show up in more contexts than just the structure and activities of the scientific community.
But it's tough to talk about that attitude. Awkward. Hard to explain. Hard to refer to. I needed a word for it.
I couldn't find the right one. I decided it didn't exist.
So I made one up.
Aletheia was the Greek word for truth. It comes from lethe (λήθη) which means obscurity, concealment, or forgetfulness. The prefix a- (ἀ–) means not. Aletheia means not concealed.
Tropos (τρόπος) means turning. I remember in high school biology being delighted to learn the word heliotropism. It's just a neat word. It refers to the habit of some plants to turn to face the sun.
Alethetropy, then, means a tendency to turn toward the truth, or the act of facing the truth.
It turns out that I'm not the first to follow this etymological path; a variant, "alethetropic," is part of the title of an out-of-print book. So it's not really original. But it means something I want to say, so I'm going to start using it.
Now that I have it handy, it's a lot easier to express the following:
The scientific method is an algorithm for institutional alethetropy. What we need now are algorithms for individual alethetropy and cultural alethetropy.