Truth as a property of information

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Truth as a property of information

Post Number:#1  Postby Alex_Y » September 12th, 2017, 7:36 pm

Here is some of a theory I am developing regarding truth as a property of information.

A strong concept of truth requires a strong concept of a mind-independent reality. A reality completely separate from individual conscious experience. This concept of reality would be equivalent to Kant's noumenal world. While we, as conscious beings cannot fully comprehend the nature of this external reality, we can ascertain that it has a certain set of real, consistent properties. For example, things with mass tend to fall towards the center of earth, our own bodies cannot pass through solid objects, gasses expand to fill their containers. We cannot know the ultimate nature of reality, but we can know that this reality gives rise to these consistent properties that do not change regardless of where we are, who measures them, or what someone's individual conscious experience is. For example, no change in internal mental state will allow your physical body to actually defy gravity.

The reliable operation of technology relies intimately on our reality operating with a set of very precise, specific self consistent properties. This is a statement about how our reality actually is.

Now thinking about Truth. Starting with this self-consistent external reality, how can the concept of truth be constructed? The way I have found to do this is by thinking about truth as a potential property of information. Truth is, in its essence, the name for Information that has something to do with this mind-independent reality.

Truth is Information that corresponds with reality. - The fundamental definition of truth

Now the question becomes what is the difference between information that has something to do with reality, and information that does not? Finding this difference will allow information that does correspond with reality to be separated from information that does not. This will allow truth to be found.

Here is the way to separate these two kinds of information:

Information that corresponds with reality will allow a conscious mind with that information to make an accurate prediction about reality, or to more easily interact with reality. If information does not allow an accurate prediction to be made about the world, or does not change how easily a person can interact with reality, there is no real way to know if the information is truth or not.

This is the basic premise of my theory of truth. Any feedback is greatly appreciated, as well as any advice on relevant work / materials I could read to gain a broader perspective on these subject. Thank you!
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Truth as a property of information



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Re: Truth as a property of information

Post Number:#2  Postby JamesOfSeattle » September 13th, 2017, 2:37 am

The first thing I would recommend is Luciano Floridi's book : Philosophy of Information. In it he defines semantic information as
1. data which is
2. well-formed
3. meaningful, and
4. true.

He would say that information which is not true is simply not information but instead is misinformation, or possibly disinformation. Unfortunately, Floridi provides this definition only in terms of communication and does not apply it directly to reality, as you seem to be suggesting.

Here's my take:
1. Information in the broadest sense is a specific subset of all the possible measurements taken on a physical system (reality). Thus information is a specific subset of all the possible data associated with a physical system.
2. Any physical system has a causal history which describes how the system was created, and this history goes all the way to the Big Bang, at least. This causal history is, I think, the reality you are referring to.
3. The "meaning" of information is essentially the causal history associated with the specific subset of data measured or recognized, or some part of that causal history.
4. Referring to the truth of information only makes sense in the context of communication via coded symbols, like words and sentences. But a statement about truth is essentially a reference to the causal history referenced by the communication.

Hope that's not too vague.

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Re: Truth as a property of information

Post Number:#3  Postby Alex_Y » September 14th, 2017, 4:50 am

Thanks for the reply! I will take a look at that book.

Here are some thoughts that came to mind after reading your reply:

Yes, all of the possible measurable properties of the universe and all of the previous causes of those properties is a good way to describe my notion of reality.

For non-symbolic information I would agree, it's meaning is directly derived from its causal history.

I think of truth as existing outside of coded symbols, and as a property of pure information. I'll give an example using pure visual information. If you see a a hologram of a vase, and you do not realize it is a hologram, the visual information that you have about the world is misleading, because it causes you to think a vase is there when it actually isn't. This information makes you believe something about the world that isn't true. This is an example of "untrue" information that isn't in symbolic form.

It is the exact equivalent, in my mind, of telling a blindfolded person "There is a vase 5 feet to your left", when in reality there is no vase.

Both the visual information of the hologram and the sentence "There is a vase 5 feet to your left" cause a person to expect a vase to exist at a certain location, when in reality there is no vase.

In both cases, the information can only be known to be true or false if the person actually tries to find the vase, in real life. Otherwise they have no real way of knowing whether the information is true or not.
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Re: Truth as a property of information

Post Number:#4  Postby NicoL » September 14th, 2017, 9:40 am

Alex, all this sounds reasonable to me, and pretty much a version of the correspondence theory. You just replace propositions with information as your truth-bearers, and you also attempt to give an informal explanation of what the correspondence relation consists in (i.e. that correspondence helps to interact with the external world successfully). My understanding of propositions and information is the same, and along functionalist lines, which seems to also be what you're implying in your text.
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Re: Truth as a property of information

Post Number:#5  Postby Anomaly » Yesterday, 1:35 pm

If you see a a hologram of a vase, and you do not realize it is a hologram, the visual information that you have about the world is misleading, because it causes you to think a vase is there when it actually isn't. This information makes you believe something about the world that isn't true. This is an example of "untrue" information that isn't in symbolic form.

I share with you the view that truth is a property of information. My question re the above quote is: if truth is a property of actual things, it will be a property of both the actual vase (particles arranged in a certain way) and the hologram (light waves or particles arranged in a certain way). If truth exists as a property in both models. where does untruth or falsity exist in this comparison? Are both truth and falsity properties of information?
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