in Positivism, some things are objectively true, and we may have unquestionable knowledge of them based on our sensory experiences. Other things are subjective, for example the quality of works of art, where “It is beautiful” only means “I like it”. Something which may not be verified is ungrounded belief, so nonsensical.
Knowledge of history comes between. Primary sources are evidence of what happened, and that evidence might be doubtful on some ground, or conclusive. Having made forensic arguments about evidence, I am quite familiar with alternative views of fact. Wright poses the question whether history is a type of objective knowledge, or really subjective. I find it hard to imagine that anyone would see that as either/or: it is clearly a spectrum. Few seriously asserted historical propositions are entirely certain or entirely unsupported.
There is also phenomenalism: I cannot be certain of the external world, only my sense data. Well, atoms are mostly empty space, and particles may be in two places at once until they are observed, but I act as if my sense data relate to external events.
Wright proposes “Critical realism”- there is an external reality, which may be known in part, and may be known better through critical thought and engagement with evidence. Well, yes.
No human being has a God’s eye view of certainty, but forms an understanding of new information in the context of old understandings. A new-born baby is unable to focus his eyes. First we focus, then we interpret the information we sense. I may not be really, objectively a woman, but that understanding fulfils some of my purposes, or my society’s purposes. A better understanding may be possible.
Wright seems right to me, when he says my point of view depends on that of my associates. Few of my thoughts are entirely original. There is no detached observer: everyone has an interest, he says.
A man recorded in 2003 asserted that there were thirty billion stars in the galaxy. More recently I have heard a hundred billion, then two hundred billion. This shakes my confidence a little, but I hope that experts now have more evidence, and better ways of understanding that evidence- a better answer, though still perhaps an inaccurate one. I knew already that Space is really big. Understanding builds on earlier understanding. This means that people believed in phlogiston long after there was clear evidence against the theory, but also holds out hope that understanding may improve over time.