• BrianW
    151
    When there is no evidence to the contrary, the tiniest shred of evidence is actionable. If you believe there is additional information available then the salience of the decision determines how much you delay the decision in favor of gathering additional information.Kaiser Basileus

    I think this refers more to choice than to knowledge. It suggests a kind of response or activity born of perception; something distinctly subjective.

    When a person says, "The world is flat." Is this a statement with reference to knowledge or perception? The person may have no evidence to the contrary (perhaps due to lack of due diligence in acquiring said evidence), and may as well be confident in his claim. It is also actionable (many sailors and navigators did set out to discover the end of the world based on such ideas and propositions). So, my question is, Can knowledge be wrong? Or, does knowledge bear any relationship to truth?

    I believe application of knowledge can be subjective but I don't think knowledge is.
  • S
    6k
    Epistemology is all about certainty...Kaiser Basileus

    Is it? I thought that it was about knowledge.
  • tim wood
    1.1k
    Do you mean to say that there are things which 1) are the case and which could be known, but which 2) no one currently knows? I presume not, since that would quickly lead to those unknown things being facts.jkg20

    Somewhere in a remote galaxy a planet revolves around a star. What do we know about it? Nothing. Is there any doubt that if and when we learn anything about it, that what we learn will constitute what we call facts about it?

    Can we have facts we don't know? How? We can hypotheses, conjectures, and where the light trails of into complete darkness, guesses and science fiction. To be a fact requires more than nothing. With nothing, there is no fact.
  • Banno
    3.3k
    Can we have facts we don't know?tim wood

    This trades on the ambiguity of "Have".

    Can we know facts we don't know? of course not.

    Can there be facts we don't know? of course there can.
  • tim wood
    1.1k
    Can there be facts we don't know? of course there can.Banno
    Easy to say. But what is a fact that has no content? One problem: if there can be facts we don't know, that should cause us to ask if there are any criteria for being a fact. If nothing is such a criteria, then why cannot we have alternate facts, alternate nothings? And there is a very large supply of nothing - there can be as many facts as you like. Accuracy doesn't matter. Nothing about any contentless fact can be either true or false.

    The idea of facts we don't know puts us both feet in Wonderland.

    I can see that from your casual and informal point of view, careless use of language only makes a difference if it makes a difference (that or it makes no difference at all). Trouble is, you haven't recognized that it makes a difference here. What difference? That I say it makes a difference.

    Disregarding difference as a matter of convenience or personal style is one thing, Denial is another matter. I'd like it now if you'd simply agree that true and fact are not synonyms, that they do not mean the same thing - or make the case that they are and do.
  • Banno
    3.3k
    One problem: if there can be facts we don't know, that should cause us to ask if there are any criteria for being a fact. If nothing is such a criteria, then why cannot we have alternate facts, alternate nothings? And there is a very large supply of nothing - there can be as many facts as you like. Accuracy doesn't matter. Nothing about any contentless fact can be either true or false.tim wood
    You are over-thinking it. There are things you don't know, that are nevertheless facts - the colour of the cup I had coffee from this morning, and so on. It's not hard to see that there are facts that no one knows.

    The inability to account for such a commonplace suggests that that an approach in which all facts must be known is just plain wrong.
  • tim wood
    1.1k
    You are over-thinking it. There are things you don't know, that are nevertheless facts - the colour of the cup I had coffee from this morning, and so on. It's not hard to see that there are facts that no one knows.
    The inability to account for such a commonplace suggests that that an approach in which all facts must be known is just plain wrong.
    Banno
    Not that all facts must be known, but that to be a fact, there must be content in the fact.

    Three broad questions have surfaced here: 1) are true and fact synonyms? Do they mean the same thing? 2) What does fact mean? 3) Under that definition/understanding of "fact," is "fact" applicable where there is no knowledge? Or, in order to be a fact, does not the fact have to comprehend something as knowledge of that something - in simplest terms, to aver possession of a fact is to claim to have knowledge?
  • Sam26
    983
    Epistemology is all about certainty, not “Truth”. Real Truth is inaccessible to us because of physical and mental filters between us and the real world, namely biological, cultural, and psychological.

    There are only two ways of knowing, empirical probability and logical necessity.
    Kaiser Basileus

    Epistemology is about knowledge, and knowledge deals with beliefs, justification, and truth. If I say that I know algebra, that statement is either true or false.

    There are at least two ways I can talk about certainty. One way is a subjective portrayal of my inner feelings about what I claim to know, and it can be expressed by emphasis. Another way that the word certainty is used, is as a synonym for knowing or knowledge. For example, I am certain that I saw Tom shoot Mary, or I am certain that Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president, etc.

    There are many uses of the word know that go beyond your limited description of knowledge. I can know by sensory experience, I can know based on testimony, I can know based argument, inference, or proof, and I can know based on linguistic training, to name a few. The use of the word know is much more expansive than people seem to think.
  • Relativist
    242
    Not that all facts must be known, but that to be a fact, there must be content in the fact.

    Three broad questions have surfaced here: 1) are true and fact synonyms? Do they mean the same thing? 2) What does fact mean? 3) Under that definition/understanding of "fact," is "fact" applicable where there is no knowledge? Or, in order to be a fact, does not the fact have to comprehend something as knowledge of that something - in simplest terms, to aver possession of a fact is to claim to have knowledge?
    tim wood
    These are questions of semantics. Are you just trying to get a consensus on the meaning of the terms, or are you looking for the implications based on some particular definitions you have in mind?
  • Dfpolis
    325
    Real Truth is inaccessible to us because of physical and mental filters between us and the real world, namely biological, cultural, and psychological.Kaiser Basileus

    Of course this is meaningless in the absence of a definition of "real truth" as opposed to faux truth. Fr me, truth is the adequacy of what is inthe intellect to reality. Adequacy is a relative concept, depending on contextual need.

    Further, you seem unaware that all knowledge is both subjective and objective. There is always some known object and some knowing subject. Further, the objective content we know has both an objective object, and a subjective object. If we see an apple the objective object is the apple and the subjective object (the data about the knowing subject) is that we can see, see these colors, etc. Thus, there is no biological, cultural, or psychological distortion -- there is only biological, cultural, and psychological data admixed with data on the objective object. If someone is too unreflective to recognize this, that can be corrected if the person is open-minded.

    There is no a priori knowledge, no logical necessity independent of metaphysical necessity. What we call a priori is a posteriori with resect to our learning experiences, and the only "a priori" thereafter because it is constrained by our experiential understanding of being. Logic is not about laws of thought, but about laws of thought applicable to reality. I can think <square circle> but I can't make a real square circle, nor can I instantiate an image of a square circle. These are ontological, not conceptual limitations. The ideas <square> and <circle> are abstracted form experience, not granted from on high. So, logical necessity isn't an independent category, but something we grasp by experiencing reality.

    Finally, as we have no way of measuring subjective certainty, assigning it a mathematical value is only a way of clothing subjective bias in mathematical garb.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    739
    Hello. I agree with most of what you wrote.

    Real Truth is inaccessible to usKaiser Basileus
    What about, as you mention later on, logical necessities? Truth does not contradict truth; therefore any self-contradicting statements are necessarily false; therefore any negation of self-contradicting statements are necessarily true. E.g. "Timeless objective truths don't exist" = self-contradiction; therefore "Timeless objective truths exist" = true.

    Also, what about first principles, such as the laws of logic? Knowledge of logical necessities implies that we have a priori knowledge of the laws of logic as being true, for we cannot logically prove the laws of logic to be true. And in the off chance they are not part of eternal truths, then we are all screwed.
  • Kaiser Basileus
    24
    Paradox simply doesn't exist in reality. It's a shortcoming of language. Every "thing" is a pattern with a purpose and the pattern is subservient to the purpose. Words that are self-referential or phrases that are self-refuting can't go anywhere - they have no purpose, therefore the pattern is meaningless. #paradoxsolved

    There's no reason why logic works, it simply works. It's descriptive of the relationships between other concepts. Nothing is a priori. It's all based on our experience, individually, socially in the current moment, and historically as cultures evolve. You don't need to question logic. "Just works" takes you all the way to infinity, or until it stops working.
  • Kaiser Basileus
    24
    Everything you mention can be categorised either as empirical or logical. There really are only two ways of knowing.
  • Kaiser Basileus
    24
    A fact is an individual instance of truth just as a choice is an individual instance of freedom. Knowledge is equivalent to epistemological warrant.
  • Kaiser Basileus
    24
    I don't know if i got these responded to in order. The response threading here is confusing me.
  • Kaiser Basileus
    24
    If you don't know it, it's not a fact to you, or for any of your purposes. Likewise if we collectively don't know it, it's not a fact for all intents and purposes. In other words, identical to fiction.
  • Banno
    3.3k
    All you have done is mandate that a fact is something you know rather than something that is true.

    Go right ahead, if you like; but that's not how the rest of us use it.
  • Kaiser Basileus
    24
    You can never know anything is "true" with 100% certainty. Certain *enough* for a given purpose is all that knowledge can possibly mean.
  • Banno
    3.3k
    Are sure of that?
  • Kaiser Basileus
    24
    Yes. Logic works for 100% of applications that i'm aware of, but i'm no expert in logic.
  • Banno
    3.3k
    so both:

    You can never know anything is "true" with 100% certainty.Kaiser Basileus

    and

    Logic works for 100% of applicationsKaiser Basileus

    Hmm.

    So logic does not tell us what is true?
  • Relativist
    242

    "A fact is an individual instance of truth just as a choice is an individual instance of freedom. Knowledge is equivalent to epistemological warrant. "

    Then I take it that a fact = a true proposition = a truth.

    So when you ask "What does fact mean? " you're asking "what makes a proposition true?"
    The most commonly accepted theory of truth is correspondence theory of truth. What makes a proposition true is that it corresponds to some actual aspect of reality. The proposition "the ball is read" is true if the ball is actually red.

    (I questioned semantics, because epistemologists often use the term "fact" to refer to the element of reality to which a proposition corresponds, if true. )

    You also asked," Under that definition/understanding of 'fact,' is 'fact' applicable where there is no knowledge"
    Knowledge = a belief that is true, justified, and (somehow) avoids Gettier problems. Can there be a fact (i.e.a true proposition) if no one has knowledge of that proposition? Absolutely: I believe X, but I believe it for a bad reason, therefore I don't have knowledge of X. Nevertheless, X is actually true (i.e. it's a fact). There's an example of there being a fact without knowledge.

    Perhaps you're using the term "knowledge" in the less technical, but more common sense, as equivalent to a belief, one that may or may not be justified. That makes for a more controversial analysis: is there a fact (true proposition) if no one actually believes that proposition? It depends on your stance on propositions. If (like me) you consider propositions as a set of words formulated by, and contained within, minds - then if no one has formulated a proposition then it doesn't exist. Consider the universe 100 years after the big bang. There were no true propositions (facts) at the time because there were no minds to formulate and contain them.

    On the other hand, some treat propositions as abstractions, like numbers - they consider there to exist a proposition to describe every aspect of reality, irrespective of whether anyone has actually articulated it They would say, "yes, truths/facts exist even if no one believes the truth/fact/proposition".
  • Sam26
    983
    So logic does not tell us what is true?Banno

    No, logic doesn't tell us what's true. Logic is a tool to help us draw proper conclusions, but it certainly doesn't guarantee truth. If certain propositions are true (for e.g. a proof), then it follows that the conclusion is true, but that is contingent on whether the premises are true. So in that sense it doesn't tell us what's true. Logic is a tool of correct reason.
  • Banno
    3.3k
    Lies to children, for Kaiser's sake.
  • Kaiser Basileus
    24
    Sure it does. But can you ever be 100% sure that you used it correctly? Can you be so sure of the premises that you plugged into that 100% certain logic? You can certainly get to epistemological warrant with logic, and that's the line that's always sufficient.
  • Kaiser Basileus
    24
    Justified "true" belief is a step too far. If everyone in the entire species thought something was a fact and it turned it not to be, it would still have been true "for all intents and purposes" until the new information came to light. Hypothetical future changes are an unknown unknown and so can never be accounted for.

    I'm a relativist, yes, but that doesn't mean arbitrary. The truth isn't relative to imaginary transcendent knowledge, but to our best attempts at verification.. "for all intents and purposes.

    As for numbers; math is descriptive of the relationships between idealised entities that do not exist in reality.
  • Relativist
    242

    Kaiser Basileus

    18

    ↪Relativist

     Justified "true" belief is a step too far. If everyone in the entire species thought something was a fact and it turned it not to be, it would still have been true "for all intents and purposes" until the new information came to light.
    That is confused because it redefines "truth" by equating it with popular belief or conventional wisdom.
  • Kaiser Basileus
    24
    Truth in any more absolute sense is inaccessible to us. It's statistical probability at best, which is a sort of knowledge, but not a fact. It's not "popular" or "conventional" at all. It's the extent of whoever is involved. The truth for humanity is something like the sun will rise tomorrow, but the truth for an individual might be "i'll be dead by then." which clearly usurps the sun rising in any sense relative to them. If the best knowledge available turns out to be wrong, should it not have been considered truth before that? If the best available information isn't enough, there is no truth at all. If it is, my definition stands.
  • Relativist
    242

    I agree that, in most cases, truth is inaccessible. But we need an idealized concept of truth to grasp the very concept that objective truth is usually inaccessible.

    " If the best knowledge available turns out to be wrong, should it not have been considered truth before that? "
    No! We should be fully cognizant that the things we believe may be false. Only then can we explore why we might be wrong. The biggest obstacle to seeking truth is certainty: if you "know" x, then you won't entertain the possibility of not-x, which closes doors. Even if the truth we seek is unobtainable in principle, it is the direction we should try to head toward.
  • Banno
    3.3k
    ok. So we can be 100% certain of the truth of logical rules.

    What about maths? Can we be sure that twice two is four?
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