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Truth

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ktz
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Re: Truth

Post by ktz » November 27th, 2018, 4:36 am

Eduk wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 2:18 pm
Consul I like the definition you linked. Out of interest can something be more true or less true? I note that more or less useful is regarded as separate, which I agree with. But I wondered if that extended to more or less true?
Popper is credited with the idea of verisimilitude -- degrees of truthlikeness or falselikeness. However, his original formal definition was contested and later rescinded, and post-Popperian conceptions have not reached a consensus on how best to define the idea.
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Re: Truth

Post by Consul » November 27th, 2018, 1:10 pm

h_k_s wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 1:48 pm
More simply stated, I surmise that truth is a quality of everything that exists. So tangible real things that exist have truth due to their existence.
This doesn't make sense. Truth is a property (if it's a genuine property at all) of certain semiotic, especially linguistic entities only that have meaning and reference.

"We are capable of using (not merely having) mental imagery to represent how things might be somewhere else, how things were before or behind, or how things would be after certain courses of action. We are not restricted to uses of mental representation; we
are also capable of representing via symbols and languages for more effective communication. With these mental and linguistic capacities, we can represent the world in limitless ways—we represent how the world was millions of years before our arrival, how it would be millions of years after our departure, how it would be if war ceased to be waged and if there were no ozone layer enveloping the earth or no mosquitoes buzzing around atop it.

Not all the ways the world can be represented are ways the world is, so a particular species of creature found it necessary to employ the following convention to distinguish representations from misrepresentations. Representations that indicate the way the world
actually is they called ‘true,’ and representations that failed to do so they called ‘false.’

Truth is a relation between two things—a representation (the truth bearer) and the world or some part of it (the truthmaker). The Truthmaker Principle is intended to capture this fact. It is not meant to suggest that things in the world actually make truths as fire makes heat; it is not the ‘make’ of the sort in which they (in and of themselves) cause things called ‘truths’ to come into existence. A world in which there were no representations (i.e. no truth bearers) would be a world in which there were no truths."


(Martin, C. B. The Mind in Nature. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. pp. 24-5)
h_k_s wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 1:48 pm
Regarding beliefs, they are a characteristic of humans which are themselves real things that exist or existed at one time. The beliefs themselves are intangible. Whether the beliefs are true or untrue is impossible to determine since while they are beliefs they cannot be relegated to fact or non-fact thus truth or untruth cannot properly describe beliefs. Beliefs are simply beliefs. Whether they are true or not is un-knowable.
What matters is the epistemic justification of your beliefs, i.e. the evidence for their truth. Of course, if the evidence for a belief is inconclusive—in the sense that it doesn't logically entail the belief's truth—, then there remains some degree of uncertainty as to whether the belief is really true.
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Re: Truth

Post by Fooloso4 » November 27th, 2018, 1:29 pm

h_k_s:
One must however infer that truth "is" -- that it exists.

One must also infer that untruth "is not" -- that it does not exist.
I do not think this inference follows from what Aristotle said.

Metaphysics, 1011b25:
To say that what is is not, or that what is not is, is false; but to say that what is is, and what is not is not, is true; and therefore also he who says that a thing is or is not will say either what is true or what is false.
As I read it, truth and falsity refer to the correctness of what is represented in speech or judgment. Truth is not reified. Both true and false exist in so far as we say something or make a judgment about something. “To say that what is is not” does not refer just the the existence of an object but to what we say about the object . So, for example, if I say that the sun is purple, I am not saying about the sun that is not, but saying something about the sun that is not, namely, that it is purple.

The false exists, untruth exists, we say things and make judgments about things that are not true.


The larger issue here for Aristotle is bivalence or excluded middle - X either is or is not, and therefore when we say that X is or X is not we are saying something that is either true or false.

A judgment - the ice is solid enough to walk on, need not be declarative or entail language. My dog, for example, may test the ice by putting her paw on it and if it holds take a cautious step. Calling this a judgment might raise difficulties depending on how one conceives of judging, but in line with the excluded middle either the ice is solid or not, and she either judges correctly or not when she ventures out on the ice. It is the claim or judgment - the ice is solid - that is true or false.


To say [or judge] that what is [solid ice] is not [solid ice], or that what is not [solid ice] is [solid ice], is false; but to say [or judge] that what is [solid ice] is [solid ice], and what is not [solid ice] is not [solid ice], is true; and therefore also he who says that a thing is [solid ice] or is not [solid ice] will say [or judge] either what is true or what is false.

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Re: Truth

Post by h_k_s » November 27th, 2018, 2:21 pm

These are great explanations. Thank you All.

I have moved most if not all of you onto my friends list as philosophers whom I can trust to speak truth and not lies nor sophistries.

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Re: Truth

Post by h_k_s » November 28th, 2018, 6:16 pm

ktz wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 12:28 pm
Consul wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 11:31 am


"[F]rom early on, clear-headed students of philosophy recognized in pragmatism the epistemological counterpart of ethical utilitarianism. For where J. S. Mill saw ethical principles as properly validated through social utility in fostering the affective condition of people-in-general ('the greatest good of the greatest number'), there C. S. Peirce and his congeners came to regard their pragmatic efficacy (i.e., utility) in the service of our purposes as validating our principles for securing trustworthy information about the world. And so, as Émile Durkheim already maintained, pragmatism is closely akin to an epistemic utilitarianism: utilitarians classed as right that which proves beneficial to the community ('the greatest good of the greatest number'); pragmatists classed as true that which proves useful to the individual (i.e., useful through being effectively conducive to the realizations of his ends)."

(Rescher, Nicholas. Pragmatism: The Restoration of its Scientific Roots. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2012. p. 271)

"A Pragmatic Theory of Truth holds (roughly) that a proposition is true if it is useful to believe. Peirce and James were its principal advocates. Utility is the essential mark of truth. Beliefs that lead to the best “payoff”, that are the best justification of our actions, that promote success, are truths, according to the pragmatists...."

Source: https://www.iep.utm.edu/truth/#H6

My simple objection is that "true" just isn't synonymous with "useful to believe". What is useful to believe can still be untrue.
Well, what is true can in fact be harmful to believe. I cited the satirical dihydrogen monoxide argument before, and you can look up the xkcd comic, Conditional Risk, for another example.

The statistician George Box is frequently attributed the quote: "All models are false. Some are useful." By holding perfect verifiability and correspondence above other aspects of truth, including the consequentialist aspects you are citing, you can lose the opportunity to develop practically effective but technically untrue models that wouldn't live up to Tarski's satisfaction.

In the real world, we often deal with models that are conditionally or subjectively true. For example, Newtonian physics has useful applications within the context of everyday physical interactions, but loses its validity on the scale of quarks or galaxies, so technically it is untrue -- but it still clearly has value within the context of teaching first-year physics students how to solve basic acceleration problems. The idea that tax cuts for the rich are a great thing is true if you are a member of the wealthy elite that controls certain channels of media and campaign finance, and thus verifiable within a subjectively limited context of a correspondence theory of truth, but neglects objective considerations that would be immediately apparent within a pragmatic context.

Another example would be the case of hope. Technically, all hope is false if it does not come to fruition. But there are serious practical benefits to hopefulness -- the placebo effect perhaps would be the most relevant empirically verifiable phenomenon.

I prefer to pursue this kind of pragmatic understanding of truth not necessarily because it is the optimal conception of what truth ought to be, but because in practice more often than not I find myself dealing with the evaluation of propositions which would benefit more from the context of Habermas's intersubjective validity than Tarski's correspondence. I generally have fewer problems with objective truth than I do with the ability to communicate that truth to others. Accessibility and consequentialist considerations perhaps should not the most important determinations of truthfulness to the degree that Peirce and James advocated for, but I think they ought to be in the conversational range when discussing the truthfulness of propositions.

I'm not a utilitarian, and don't support for example the idea of lying for the sake of the greater good, in the style of Chinese censorship and the like. But lately with all the political information I consume, I feel that the presentation and representation of truth deserve as much attention as the traditional criteria of justified true belief like correspondence, coherence, justifiability, etc.

Perhaps there are ranges of propositions for which each conception of truth is best-suited to handle. In the realm of hard facts and verifiable science, the advantages of correspondence theory in determinations of truthfulness become most clear. Coherence can be a useful criteria in the range of speculative claims which are difficult to verify or falsify. And pragmatism perhaps best shines in the range of certain Bayesian truth claims with limited ranges of applicability, as well as subjective personal beliefs and tastes.
It sounds like you worship Science @ktz.

I would be careful about that.

Science is merely a process of data gathering and inference formation. It was invented by Galileo with his telescope.

Science can confirm or invalidate the over-reachings of Religion (which is ancient and mostly wicked) and of Philosophy (whenever Philosophy probes speculatively into the realm of circles and rings etc.).

But Science should not be considered as all powerful to all ends, even though philosophical Empiricism leans heavily on Science in its formulations of principles of thought.

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Re: Truth

Post by ktz » November 28th, 2018, 7:18 pm

h_k_s wrote:
November 28th, 2018, 6:16 pm
It sounds like you worship Science @ktz.

I would be careful about that.

Science is merely a process of data gathering and inference formation. It was invented by Galileo with his telescope.

Science can confirm or invalidate the over-reachings of Religion (which is ancient and mostly wicked) and of Philosophy (whenever Philosophy probes speculatively into the realm of circles and rings etc.).

But Science should not be considered as all powerful to all ends, even though philosophical Empiricism leans heavily on Science in its formulations of principles of thought.
I don't worship science. What gives you that impression? The only people I mentioned in my post were mathematicians or philosophers. I recognize the limitations of science in the understanding non-regular phenomena, anything that can't be the target of repeated observation and replicable experiments. But I certainly feel that its results more or less speak for themselves, and so I tend to rely on its objective nature when crafting persuasive positions. Data-driven conclusions carry weight in the modern world.

I don't share your pessimism about religion, either. I think, on balance, the teachings of religion and spirituality of any of the major branches are boons to anyone who at any point in their life encounters deep suffering. I think most of the wickedness you refer to comes from issues with the hierarchy of churches, congregations of men, and the corrupting nature of power.
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Re: Truth

Post by h_k_s » November 28th, 2018, 7:44 pm

ktz wrote:
November 28th, 2018, 7:18 pm
h_k_s wrote:
November 28th, 2018, 6:16 pm
It sounds like you worship Science @ktz.

I would be careful about that.

Science is merely a process of data gathering and inference formation. It was invented by Galileo with his telescope.

Science can confirm or invalidate the over-reachings of Religion (which is ancient and mostly wicked) and of Philosophy (whenever Philosophy probes speculatively into the realm of circles and rings etc.).

But Science should not be considered as all powerful to all ends, even though philosophical Empiricism leans heavily on Science in its formulations of principles of thought.
I don't worship science. What gives you that impression? The only people I mentioned in my post were mathematicians or philosophers. I recognize the limitations of science in the understanding non-regular phenomena, anything that can't be the target of repeated observation and replicable experiments. But I certainly feel that its results more or less speak for themselves, and so I tend to rely on its objective nature when crafting persuasive positions. Data-driven conclusions carry weight in the modern world.

I don't share your pessimism about religion, either. I think, on balance, the teachings of religion and spirituality of any of the major branches are boons to anyone who at any point in their life encounters deep suffering. I think most of the wickedness you refer to comes from issues with the hierarchy of churches, congregations of men, and the corrupting nature of power.
I have seen scientific so called laws and theories change so many times in my lifetime that I no longer give it any more credit than a body of inferences from another body of data.

And religion may offer community as the British Empiricist Roger Scruton has said, it also deceives people and systematically robs them.

Philosophy is the only thing I trust. Philosophy and direct one to one communication with the God of Aquinas and Aristotle.

I always encourage others to do the same.

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Re: Truth

Post by Fooloso4 » November 28th, 2018, 10:33 pm

ktz:
I think most of the wickedness you refer to comes from issues with the hierarchy of churches, congregations of men, and the corrupting nature of power.
Any religion that makes absolute claims of truth is a serious source of wickedness.


h_k_s:
I have seen scientific so called laws and theories change so many times in my lifetime …
What laws have changed in your lifetime? Theories are a bit different since the term covers both established theories such as evolution and speculative ideas that do not have the same status. The latter is more prone to change or rejection than the former. That science changes is not a weakness but a strength. Science is based on probability and its findings are always provisional. Science has rejected the Enlightenment ideal of certainty. It accepts evidence and changes accordingly.

As I see it, the problem is not science, but scientism, , the belief that everything can be explain in scientific terms, that science holds all the answers, and that questionable claims must be true because “science”.

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Re: Truth

Post by Newme » November 29th, 2018, 1:30 am

I consider 3 main ways of defining truth. The first 2 were already implied...

1) Substantiated facts
2) Subjective interpretations or acknowledgment of the facts... Truth is in perspective. Hypotheses begins with a narrow, subjective focus to determine only one of many truths - which from a different perspective, may draw entirely different conclusions.
3) Truth is that which causes influence - even when illogical - like placebo effect, beliefs, fears, desires etc.

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Re: Truth

Post by Eduk » November 29th, 2018, 4:59 am

If you worship science then you have redefined science to have a non normative meaning and have just invented your own religion. Say for example Scientism. Or more likely you have just mislabelled someone who is annoyingly asking you for evidence of some kind for your unreasonable assertions.
Science as a method is our best method for ascertaining accuracy and objective truth. The results speak for themselves so loudly and so clearly and so eloquently that it must take a force of will to ignore it. Personally I find it inexplicable, you may as well say you don't believe in dogs.
The scientific method is not a replacement for philosophy. It is a philosophy. It is part of philosophy. Philosophy is still required. It is not the case that scientific enquiry is at an end. And research is lead largely by philosophy.
Science may or may not be able to answer all human questions, even if it can't today. This is unknown but shouldn't be presupposed to be impossible.
It is interesting the number of philosophical claims that are being made about the nature of truth. But if we take the claims which are refuted by the scientific method how many of those claims actually stand up? In my experience so far zero.
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Re: Truth

Post by ktz » November 29th, 2018, 2:57 pm

Fooloso4 wrote:
November 28th, 2018, 10:33 pm
ktz:
I think most of the wickedness you refer to comes from issues with the hierarchy of churches, congregations of men, and the corrupting nature of power.
Any religion that makes absolute claims of truth is a serious source of wickedness.
Hmm. Perhaps true in a large number of contexts. But, first let me offer some anecdotal ideas.

The popular Humans of New York blog recently did a feature on the stories of survivors of the Rwandan genocide. One story featured a church pastor, who was able to save the Tutsi members of his congregation seeking shelter in his church. When the killers came for them, he used religious ideas to dissuade them, calling out the names of members of his church and asking them where they will go after they die. His appeals through that religious framework managed to get the genocidal killers to drop their guns and save more than three hundred people, when nearly a million other Tutsis were killed.

Recently I became acquainted with the story of Desmond Doss, the first conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor. He was an uncompromising Seventh-Day Adventist who saved an estimated 75 lives single-handedly in the Battle of Okinawa in the Pacific theater through a steadfast commitment to his faith, refusing to touch a weapon and crawling through enemy territory to drag wounded soldiers back to where they could receive treatment.

Dogmatic belief in religious ideas can and will continue to be co-opted by bad actors, certainly, and used to stifle intellectual growth and debate -- so in that sense you are entirely correct. Churches and religious government throughout history are cesspools for abuses of power, ideological warfare, and acts of oppression devoid of moral content. But that being said, I would strongly contest the position that any religion making absolute claims of truth necessarily implies wickedness. Religion is a tool like any other, and it can be abused for wicked ends the same way opiates can be used as an escape from reality or even a tool for suicide, control, or manslaughter. But even so, I think I can make the case, with some cherrypicked exceptions, that the moral frameworks underlying the New Testament, Quran, Torah, Bhagavad Gita, the eightfold path, and Vonnegut's Bokonon are pragmatically consistent with the overarching goals of secular humanism as well.

The case I would try to make that religion itself is not the source of wickedness, but the power and control over others conferred by a devotion to dogma, and the men who cannot resist the abuse of that power.

In contrast to wickedness, there's a quote that gets attributed to Lao Tzu that goes, "Being loved deeply gives you strength. Loving deeply gives you courage." For those enduring the deepest hardship and suffering, I contend that the experience of God's love and commitment to faith can be a reserve of strength and courage that can help them in their plight beyond what other man-made creations can offer. Powerful concepts like humility and grace can be hard to come by through alternate means.

And more relevant to our discussion, I reject the case that religion is the correct path to absolute objective truth. My case lies more along the lines that religious faith can be a worthy target for a set of subjective personal convictions, with practical benefits for many individuals throughout history. Since I have made the case previously for a pragmatic understanding of truth, this is consistent with my ideals.
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Re: Truth

Post by ktz » November 29th, 2018, 3:06 pm

Eduk wrote:
November 29th, 2018, 4:59 am
If you worship science then you have redefined science to have a non normative meaning and have just invented your own religion. Say for example Scientism. Or more likely you have just mislabelled someone who is annoyingly asking you for evidence of some kind for your unreasonable assertions.
Science as a method is our best method for ascertaining accuracy and objective truth. The results speak for themselves so loudly and so clearly and so eloquently that it must take a force of will to ignore it. Personally I find it inexplicable, you may as well say you don't believe in dogs.
The scientific method is not a replacement for philosophy. It is a philosophy. It is part of philosophy. Philosophy is still required. It is not the case that scientific enquiry is at an end. And research is lead largely by philosophy.
Science may or may not be able to answer all human questions, even if it can't today. This is unknown but shouldn't be presupposed to be impossible.
It is interesting the number of philosophical claims that are being made about the nature of truth. But if we take the claims which are refuted by the scientific method how many of those claims actually stand up? In my experience so far zero.
Eduk, one example of a caveat for practical implementations of science would be the latest replication crisis in psychology. Even some of the most acclaimed thinkers like Tversky and Kahneman were affected. Abuse of Bayesian tools like p-value hacking still exists in other disciplines outside of the social sciences as well. Modern American academia suffers from perverse incentives -- grants and tenure to those who publish groundbreaking work, shame and failure otherwise. This is not an attack directly on the scientific method, which I think is more or less unassailable in its primary coverage targets when implemented correctly. But I have a hypothesis that humans tend to behave in decidedly unscientific ways, and the social sciences in particular may struggle to uncover the truth more than other variations of science.
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Re: Truth

Post by Eduk » November 29th, 2018, 3:07 pm

Ktz. Aren't you in danger of being wise after the event with your examples of the good of religion?
For me it would be more nuanced to talk about the percentage future benefits of religion versus other philosophical frameworks.
For me unreasonable beliefs will always be statistically less likely to give 'good' results than reasonable beliefs. Even if it is trivial to cherry pick examples in the past where the opposite was true.
Also where religious ideas of morality and secular ideas of morality overlap surely they stop being unique to religion? At this point can we not question whether they are indeed religious in origin?
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Re: Truth

Post by Eduk » November 29th, 2018, 3:13 pm

Ktz, no one is saying humans are perfect. Or that scientists are perfect. But the fact that you know what p hacking is is testament to the scientific method not a sign of the failure of the scientific method.
Indeed our messy human nature is one of the things which the scientific method deals better with than any other method. Our nature for self deception is built into science.
Anyone can point to myriad examples of scientists failing their own standards. But anyone can also point at myriad scientific advances.
Without being flippant what other options do we possess other than the scientific method for judging objective facts?
Unknown means unknown.

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Re: Truth

Post by Fooloso4 » November 29th, 2018, 5:08 pm

ktz:
Perhaps true in a large number of contexts. But, first let me offer some anecdotal ideas.
Religious belief can be of value and benefit, but since this is a topic on “truth” I would add that what is of benefit is not thereby true. What the truth of such matters is, however, is not something that we can know. What one believes can be a blessing or a curse, and, as the story of Genesis tells us, the two are one.

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