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emsby
Skeptic Friend

76 Posts

Posted - 02/14/2008 :  17:05:38  Show Profile Send emsby a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hello Skeptics. A friend and I were having a very lively discussion on the nature of truth on the despicable, horrible, troll-ridden IMDb "Philosophy & Religion" board, when our thread was quite rudely deleted. This was where our discussion ended:

He said:

But that leads to a rather odd conclusion.

If I assert something as being the case when I could not possibly know it, nor could anynody, then you would say it was not true. But, then, what if it later turns out that somebody invents some clever knew technology which can observe the event, and by some statistical miracle it turns out that I was exactly right about what happened at T = 0 - would you really say that my proposition had no truth value when I first said it but is suddenly true once there is a means of verifying it, and it has been verified? It is the same proposition at each time, and the facts of the world have not changed (at least not the facts about the world at T = 0) over the time, only we are more aware of them. How has the truth value changed?

All your language in that pragraph speaks of our knowledge.



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This is, at this moment in time, something that nobody on earth knows the truth of.
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It's not about persuasiveness... it's about the possibility of knowing something is true.
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For instance, if you were to claim to know that the Queen was born on April 21st, I wouldn't question your ability to know this was true.
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I wont patronise you by highlighting the word "know" in each case, but you get my point. Your closing statement

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Some claims of truth are verifiable and therefore justifiable.
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Is even close to the classic definition of knowledge - which I would for the most part agree with - of knowlege being a "Justified true belief" (claim in your words). So, yes, I dont disagree about knowlege there. But your account of truth seems to conflate the two.

* I actually dont think you would claim it was not true, I think you'd claim I have no right to assert it - I should perhaps have used the word "one" to indicate that I am talking of the conclusion for one who would say that verification is needed for truth.


To which I replied:

If I assert something as being the case when I could not possibly know it, nor could anynody, then you would say it was not true.

No, I wouldn't. I really feel like I'm somehow not making myself clear, and I'm really not sure how else to say it. I'm sorry. I would say that I have no idea whether or not it's true. It may very well be. (I later saw where he clarified this.)

But, then, what if it later turns out that somebody invents some clever knew technology which can observe the event, and by some statistical miracle it turns out that I was exactly right about what happened at T = 0 - would you really say that my proposition had no truth value when I first said it but is suddenly true once there is a means of verifying it, and it has been verified?

Again... you seem to be completely misunderstanding me, and I'm sure it's my fault, because I'm probably not expressing myself properly. I never, ever, ever said it had "no truth value." Everything has a truth value. Everything is either true or not true and that never changes. What does change is our ability to claim truth or untruth. Until this magical invention came to be, there was no such ability. There was speculation and hypothesis, but no ability to claim truth. There is a difference between something being untrue and not being able to claim something is true.

I'm not conflating truth and knowledge. I'm merely speaking about a person's ability to claim truth. I have substitued the word "know" with "claim truth." I'm speaking about. Claims. Of. Truth. Nothing else.


Basically, my position is this... Everything is either True or Not True. This never changes. However... what does change is our ability to claim truth or untruth. If we (meaning the people discussing it, or debating it, or otherwise communicating about it) can come to some agreed upon standard of verification, we can reasonably claim certain things to be true and certain things to not be true. However, if you wish to take this proposition to its logical, ultimate, conclusion... you can't really claim that anything is Absolutely True or Absolutely Untrue. I take much more issue with claims of truth or untruth.

Now, hopefully my friend will join us, and I hope everyone will welcome him.

Thanks.



[Moved to the General Skepticism folder - Dave W.]

Tongue-tied and twisted, just an earthbound misfit, I.

The_Death_Of_Achilles
New Member

16 Posts

Posted - 02/14/2008 :  17:19:04   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send The_Death_Of_Achilles a Private Message  Reply with Quote
*Sheepishly makes his first post*

Tis I, that friend.

Anyway, our conversation moved on briefly from this point but whoever kept deleting us deleted whatever we said next so I fear it's lost forever.

Anyway, I would also disagree with the idea that there is nothing which we can be certain of as well. To quote Wittgenstein, sometimes we must simply say "If this deceives me, what does 'deceive' mean any more?" and this is no call for us to simply stop doubting at a certain point, or as a matter of pragmatics to leave philosophy for our spare time - but actually the insight that at a certain point doubt becomes incoherent.

If I doubt that I have a hand, then I simply cannot comeup with a world view to accomodate that doubt. If I am mistaken about having a hand, then actually I cannot be sure of *anything* - I cannot, and this is important, have any reason to believe that the words I am using have any relation to the meaning I wish to convey by them. "Truth" and "Falsity" collapse - the whole language game collapses, such doubts simply cannot be held within any world view which includes the language game. And that doesnt just mean one should not doubt, but that one *cannot* doubt.

For, if the doubt is incoherent, then it is senseless. I have not really doubted. There is no way I can doubt it with any sense, so it is certain. If I doubt it, I cannot be doubting. - Some statements are simply immune to doubt. At least, that's how I read Wittgenstein and thought it made sense, he's notoriously hard to comprehend, and I am not really tutored in interpreting him, so I could well be way off. So, if there is some obvious error here, please dont let it be the one by which my first impression is judged! Actually, since I intend to use this argument for certainty in a coming essay, it would be very useful if somebody did point out any weaknesses.

To end with a quotation of his work which I think best gets the sense of what I mean accross here
Isn't the question this: "What if you had to change your opinion even on these most fundamental things?" And to that the answer seems to me to be: "You don't have to change it. That is just what their being 'fundamental' is.
Edited by - The_Death_Of_Achilles on 02/14/2008 17:20:40
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LeonKennedy
New Member

USA
22 Posts

Posted - 02/14/2008 :  17:32:26   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send LeonKennedy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
However, if you wish to take this proposition to its logical, ultimate, conclusion... you can't really claim that anything is Absolutely True or Absolutely Untrue.
I disagree -- and though I'm out of my element (and don't wish to come off as some newbie jackass!), given that this conversation is a continuation, I think it's perfectly reasonable to claim that, for example, the existence of X is Absolutely True. It cannot be verified, on this we agree, but I think the whole point is that verification isn't necessary to veracity. It's necessary to establish veracity, but whether or not X really exists is entirely irrelevant to whether or not I can demonstrate it.

I might be repeating what has already been said, and for that I apologize, but I felt like throwing in my two cents -- and what better way to make my first post?
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emsby
Skeptic Friend

76 Posts

Posted - 02/14/2008 :  17:33:56   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send emsby a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by The_Death_Of_Achilles

*Sheepishly makes his first post*

Tis I, that friend.

Anyway, our conversation moved on briefly from this point but whoever kept deleting us deleted whatever we said next so I fear it's lost forever.

Anyway, I would also disagree with the idea that there is nothing which we can be certain of as well. To quote Wittgenstein, sometimes we must simply say "If this deceives me, what does 'deceive' mean any more?" and this is no call for us to simply stop doubting at a certain point, or as a matter of pragmatics to leave philosophy for our spare time - but actually the insight that at a certain point doubt becomes incoherent.

If I doubt that I have a hand, then I simply cannot comeup with a world view to accomodate that doubt. If I am mistaken about having a hand, then actually I cannot be sure of *anything* - I cannot, and this is important, have any reason to believe that the words I am using have any relation to the meaning I wish to convey by them. "Truth" and "Falsity" collapse - the whole language game collapses, such doubts simply cannot be held within any world view which includes the language game. And that doesnt just mean one should not doubt, but that one *cannot* doubt.

For, if the doubt is incoherent, then it is senseless. I have not really doubted. There is no way I can doubt it with any sense, so it is certain. If I doubt it, I cannot be doubting. - Some statements are simply immune to doubt. At least, that's how I read Wittgenstein and thought it made sense, he's notoriously hard to comprehend, and I am not really tutored in interpreting him, so I could well be way off. So, if there is some obvious error here, please dont let it be the one by which my first impression is judged! Actually, since I intend to use this argument for certainty in a coming essay, it would be very useful if somebody did point out any weaknesses.

To end with a quotation of his work which I think best gets the sense of what I mean accross here
Isn't the question this: "What if you had to change your opinion even on these most fundamental things?" And to that the answer seems to me to be: "You don't have to change it. That is just what their being 'fundamental' is.



Unfortunately, I basically agree with everything you've said.

I'm, of course, much more reasonable than what I've claimed is the "logical conclusion" to my position. There must be a line drawn somewhere... and this works both ways. Of course there are things that we, as thinkers, must accept as true, because there must be some minimum standard for judging reality. There must be some agreed-upon level of veracity. So yes, of course it is true that I have a hand... among other things. However, we must also agree on some standard that says where we must stop claiming things to be true.

Tongue-tied and twisted, just an earthbound misfit, I.
Edited by - emsby on 02/14/2008 17:36:03
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The_Death_Of_Achilles
New Member

16 Posts

Posted - 02/14/2008 :  17:40:11   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send The_Death_Of_Achilles a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Ah but, I am actually making a stronger claim here, I actually think that one cannot logically take it to such a conclusion. As in, it's not just a matter of being reasonable (I dont suppose you ever really doubted that you had a hand!) but also of possibility.

I think that without language logic collapses and that, since such fundamental doubts collapse language, they therefore collapse logic to. If no doubt can be coherently entertained, then I dont think there is any doubt at all.

There is also, I suppose, the classic Cartesian defense I am, I exist as being something impossible to logically doubt, but I think that this leads to confusion and Wittgenstein made a better point.
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emsby
Skeptic Friend

76 Posts

Posted - 02/14/2008 :  17:41:46   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send emsby a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Leon said:

I think it's perfectly reasonable to claim that, for example, the existence of X is Absolutely True. It cannot be verified, on this we agree, but I think the whole point is that verification isn't necessary to veracity. It's necessary to establish veracity, but whether or not X really exists is entirely irrelevant to whether or not I can demonstrate it.


Again, I basically agree... and I fear you and I might be having the same basic misunderstanding that Achilles and I were having. I have no problem with saying that X may very well be 100% true and my ability to demonstrate this has absolutely no bearing on that. What it does have bearing on is my ability to claim X is true... and where we might disagree is where to draw the line. When exactly are we justified in claiming that X is true?

Tongue-tied and twisted, just an earthbound misfit, I.
Edited by - emsby on 02/14/2008 17:44:15
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 02/14/2008 :  17:44:51   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hello new members, welcome to the SFN.

So, I think this discussion needs some clarification of definitions.

Because it is absolutely 100% true and verifiable that I can't teleport myself.

It is also absolutely 100% true, verfiably so, that Ricky can't crap out (literally, from his colon) a fully functional, completely assembled, fully feuled SUV.

It is absolutely 100% true, verifiably so, that a human being will die if deprived of oxygen for an hour.

I could go on.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 02/14/2008 :  17:45:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Perhaps what you meant to say is that there are some things we cannot determine the truth value of.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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The_Death_Of_Achilles
New Member

16 Posts

Posted - 02/14/2008 :  17:48:04   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send The_Death_Of_Achilles a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dude

Hello new members, welcome to the SFN.

So, I think this discussion needs some clarification of definitions.

Because it is absolutely 100% true and verifiable that I can't teleport myself.

It is also absolutely 100% true, verfiably so, that Ricky can't crap out (literally, from his colon) a fully functional, completely assembled, fully feuled SUV.

It is absolutely 100% true, verifiably so, that a human being will die if deprived of oxygen for an hour.

I could go on.




I think Emsby is talking about logical certainty here (however I have been getting her wrong in all these cases) in that it is modally possible for it to be the case, she says, that there is some great deception and all of your affirmed statements there are in error. I disagree. Although, given that she's said we're in agreement actually, mayhaps not.
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emsby
Skeptic Friend

76 Posts

Posted - 02/14/2008 :  17:52:37   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send emsby a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Achilles:

Yes... again... I think we basically agree. I think that if taken to some extreme conclusion this basically makes the terms meaningless. You're right. If no doubt exists, then the entire concept of "doubt" becomes meaningless.

I think I'm more interested in where we draw this line? Where and when are we justified in claiming truth? And when and where are we not? There are of course obvious examples... but then there are the not so obvious ones.

Tongue-tied and twisted, just an earthbound misfit, I.
Edited by - emsby on 02/14/2008 17:53:39
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emsby
Skeptic Friend

76 Posts

Posted - 02/14/2008 :  17:55:50   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send emsby a Private Message  Reply with Quote
it is modally possible for it to be the case, she says, that there is some great deception and all of your affirmed statements there are in error.


Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. It's possible. Probable? Likely? Even measureable? Barely. But it's possible.

But that's what I mean. I draw the line way before that. I must accept certain things to be true or else none of this has any meaning at all.


Tongue-tied and twisted, just an earthbound misfit, I.
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Lambchopsuey
New Member

14 Posts

Posted - 02/14/2008 :  17:59:33   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Lambchopsuey a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hello, all.

Actually, the recent influx of New Members is in part due to me. NO, I am not the lurking Shadow deleter.

I am the one who insists that opinion and speculation must not be labeled as "truth", no matter how certain a particular person is about his perspective on things. It remains ultimately unconvincing if it cannot be validated against facts and reality, and, thus, remains nothing more than opinion and speculation. I object to the way the religious use "truth" in a way that is inconsistent with the "validation" aspect of all other definitions of "truth".

BTW, I archived most of the posts from that "truthiness" thread - how does one post 'em here?
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The_Death_Of_Achilles
New Member

16 Posts

Posted - 02/14/2008 :  17:59:54   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send The_Death_Of_Achilles a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by emsby

[quote]
But that's what I mean. I draw the line way before that. I must accept certain things to be true or else none of this has any meaning at all.


And that's where I would draw the line. If something is so foundational that doubting it would also call into doubt the very words and thoughts you use to doubt it with, then actually you cant doubt it. The doubt is meaningless. There is no doubt - which ammounts to certainty.

I couldnt draw you a line, but I dont think there has to be one. Somewhere between "The Planet Saturn is X amount of miles from the sun" and "I have a hand and existed yesteday" is where such a line would fall, and even if we cant point to it we know it's there.
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LeonKennedy
New Member

USA
22 Posts

Posted - 02/14/2008 :  18:03:57   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send LeonKennedy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Emsby:
Again, I basically agree... and I fear you and I might be having the same basic misunderstanding that Achilles and I were having. I have no problem with saying that X may very well be 100% true and my ability to demonstrate this has absolutely no bearing on that. What it does have bearing on is my ability to claim X is true... and where we might disagree is where to draw the line. When exactly are we justified in claiming that X is true?
Ah, I see. You'll have to define what you mean by "justified" though before I answer -- I don't want anymore confusion!
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Lambchopsuey
New Member

14 Posts

Posted - 02/14/2008 :  18:05:30   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Lambchopsuey a Private Message  Reply with Quote
PS - do you LOVE my new avatar or what??????????????????????????

Since I am on "flood standby", here are my criteria:

1) There is no way to use logic or reason alone to provide any new facts, because you are limited in your logic and reason to what you already know. that's a *duh*, BTW

2) Without evidence to confirm it, no opinion can validly be claimed to be "truth" on the basis of argument alone, argument, by definition, being limited to what you already know.

3) I object in principle to using the term "truth" at all, as it has so many different meanings and connotations, and doesn't mean the same thing to everybody. For example, I have seen too often that theists use this meaning:
Righteousness; true religion.
Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. --John i. 17.
Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth. --John xvii.17.
From the Easton Bible Dictionary: The doctrine of Christ is called "the truth of the gospel" (Gal. 2:5), "the truth" (2 Tim. 3:7; 4:4). Our Lord says of himself, "I am the way, and the truth" (John 14:6).

That (above) is the only sense in which the word "truth" can be applied to religion, in the sense of "that which is not to ever be questioned but must be blindly accepted without argument", and it is not consistent with any of the other definitions of "truth," which have in common "Conformity to fact or reality; exact accordance with that which is, or has been; or shall be/Conformity to rule; exactness; close correspondence with an example, mood, object of imitation, or the like/veracity."

Those who understand the "conformity" definition of "truth" have no problem whatsoever with the concept of validating opinions against facts and reality by checking to see if those opinions [b]conform to fact or reality.

FURTHERmore, to respond to an idea that was posted above, IF you have to create fantastical scenarios to make your point, your point is probably pretty damn weak to begin with. Hence the "If I say something is true without any possibility of verification, and later such verification becomes available and I was right" well, sorry, but the initial claim was STILL no more convincing or compelling than opinion. I find this all the time - I can TELL what's going to happen sometimes if someone does something - and I warn them - and they don't believe me and go ahead and do it anyway - and it turns out I was right. So what? Clearly, even though I had a good basis for my prediction, it was not persuasive enough. People have to learn for themselves and figure things out through trial and error - you shouldn't expect mere argument to convince someone of something for which there is no objective evidence. No matter how emotional YOU feel about it.
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The_Death_Of_Achilles
New Member

16 Posts

Posted - 02/14/2008 :  18:07:38   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send The_Death_Of_Achilles a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Lambchopsuey

PS - do you LOVE my new avatar or what??????????????????????????


Is the picture a dead ballerina?

Anyway, with no desire to carry old emnities to new sites, here was my reply to that post.

1) Oddly, given that we have been arguing about this for a lot longer than it being a du jour matter, I actually agree with you here. I know of people who think that Logic tells us facts about the universe at the most general level possible, but I disagree with them. Mainly, I admit, because my lecturer does.

2) Since we agee on 1, we agree on 2. Well, at least, I think we do. I now just accept that me and you use the terms "truth" in different language games and neither of us are ever going to enter the others (insert innuendo here) so I think we agree here. In that, I would say, even if some logical argument was to deliver a conclusion which happened to be case, I dont think we could say we "knew" it on the basis of that alone, any more than I think that since we can come up with good mathematical models according to String Theory we *know* that String Theory accurately repreents the world - is that us agreeing?

3) The word "truth" has good use in many language games, and therefore I see no reason to object to the word.

Those who understand the "conformity" definition of "truth" have no problem whatsoever with the concept of validating opinions against facts and reality by checking to see if those opinions conform to fact or reality. That seems to enrage you, so I'll not be participating any more in that nonsense. You're welcome.


What enrages me is that for actually over a year now, I think, I have been telling you that I hold to the conformity definition of truth, (I havent got it in front of me, btu I think I said someting like a proposition needs to be in accord with what is the case for it to be true) and you simultaniously dont and accuse me of not holding to it as if you do.
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